Just a quick post today to commemorate the start of my new postdoc position. After 6.5 years (5 year PhD + 1.5 year postdoc) at the University of New Hampshire, I am not a postdoc at UMass-Amherst working with Keith Nislow, Ben Letcher, and Evan Grant. Interestingly, they are all federal government employees with adjunct status at UMass so I will get to spend a significant amount of time in US Forest Service and US Geological Service offices.
Some people would lament the need for a 2nd postdoc before getting a more permanent job in ecology. I’ll save that rant for another day, because right now I am very excited about my new position. I have some freedom to explore different aspects of the project, but in general I will be working with existing data to model climate change effects on brook trout and stream salamander populations. My collaborators have been working with other people at the northeast Climate Science Center at UMass (jointly with the Department of the Interior) to downscale general circulation models (GCM) to predict how future changes in air temperature and precipitation will affect stream temperature and flow. I’ll use this information along with population data to make future population predictions.
Part of the project will focus on partitioning the uncertainty to better understand what we know and what we don’t know (i.e. how specific factors contribute to uncertainty in predictions along with uncertainty in the climate projections and downscaling models). Understanding uncertainty is important for management decisions and one really neat part of the job will be working with collaborators to use my model outputs to inform structured decision models. These models allow managers and policy makers to test how adjusting different management options or regulations would affect populations. The combination of basic ecology and population biology with applied management implications makes this project especially exciting for me.
I’ve already met a lot of really nice, very bright people that I’ll be interacting with, so I should have a nice working environment as well. Working at government agencies and with government employees is also a perk for me. For a long time I’ve been focused on a career in academia but more recently I’ve been curious about what it would be like to work for the Forest Service or USGS, so this position will give me insights to know whether I still indeed want to work in academia or if I’d be interested in a federal position.
I will have to update my research paper soon as the project evolves.
Wish me luck!