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Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement

A Two-Year Program for Postdoctoral Support Combining Public Health Applications and Climate Science

Based on the success of the initial postdoctoral training fellowship program begun in 2010, a second fellowship program will commence in 2013, continuing a partnership between the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is widespread scientific consensus that the world's climate is changing and that there will be a broad range of impacts on health through a variety of factors, including greater heat stress, air pollution, respiratory disease exacerbation, and changes in the geographic distribution of vector-, food- and water-borne disease. The complexity of such influences requires that the next generation of climate and health scientists undergo training in a multi-disciplinary setting to ensure that they can address climate-related public health challenges. To this end, a two year postdoctoral program in which fellows are trained and conduct research in epidemiology, ecology, behavioral science, modeling and atmospheric science has been developed.

Fellows will acquire specific training in atmospheric and climate research following NCAR's established postdoctoral training program, as well as training in public health at CDC. The goal is to increase the number of scientists with the appropriate experience and training to conduct research in this emerging field.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is a research institution located in Boulder, Colorado, operated by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an Agency within the federal government under the Department of Health and Human Services. For this fellowship program, the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)/Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) located in Fort Collins, Colorado and CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), located in Atlanta, Georgia, will host postdoctoral fellows in conjunction with NCAR.

The deadline for applications to the program will be 14 January 2013 at 11:59 p.m. MST. Applications will be jointly reviewed by CDC and NCAR. Telephone interviews may be conducted in February 2013. We anticipate fellowship awards will be announced by 15 March 2013.

Overview

The postdoctoral program provides an opportunity for recent doctoral graduates to continue pursuing their research interests in an environment that fosters the development of transdisciplinary projects. The program invites postdoctoral applicants in the fields of public health, epidemiology, ecology, atmospheric sciences, climatology, geography, biology, social and behavioral sciences, health economics or related fields.

The primary goal of the program is to develop the careers of recent doctoral graduates. The program will encourage independence and creativity while providing an environment in which fellows interact with and receive advice from experienced scientists at NCAR and CDC. The fellows will spend time at NCAR for research and training in weather/climate analysis and modeling, and at CDC for research and training in epidemiology and disease ecology (at NCEZID) or for research and training in environmental health (at NCEH). The time spent by the fellow at each institution will be agreed upon by the fellow and project advisors.

Research Opportunities

The postdoctoral fellowships provide opportunities to address public health concerns related to climate variability and change. The fellows will develop research projects in collaboration with NCAR and CDC scientists. Strong preference will be given to candidates who propose work on one of the priority research areas outlined below; however, applicants with related interests not covered in the priority research areas should contact one of the coordinators listed below to discuss their research proposal.

Research at NCAR includes studies of atmospheric dynamics (on all scales), climate science, atmospheric chemistry and radiation, oceanography, and societal impacts related to these scientific areas. Specific interest areas include precipitation and flooding, drought, hurricanes, soil moisture, land surface modeling, land use/land cover changes, regional climate modeling, and future climate modeling at global and regional scales, assessment of the societal impacts of climatological events, and public policy/economics as related to climate.

Research activities at NCEZID include developing spatially- and temporally-explicit models to predict the risk of vector-borne diseases such as human plague, Lyme disease, tularemia, dengue virus and West Nile virus. The population dynamics of disease vectors (e.g., fleas, mosquitoes, ticks) are linked to many factors, among them climatic variables such as temperature, humidity and precipitation. Many existing climate datasets do not have the spatial or temporal resolution required to adequately model disease risk in the regions of interest, which are often in remote or underdeveloped areas, or else there is inadequate access to climate data by the disease modelers. The postdoctoral fellow will be trained at NCEZID to gain the ecological and disease expertise necessary to develop and employ useful disease risk models for present and future (i.e., predictive) conditions. A potential collaborative area is the integration of human behavioral and human ecological factors into risk models for climate sensitive diseases.

Research activities at NCEH include but are not limited to: altered hydrological cycles due to climate change and its impact on the transport-fate of pollutants through regional watersheds; changes to nutritional and growth factors of various plant species with increased concentration and spatial coverage of the carbon dioxide biome and its implications for airway diseases; use of remote sensing technology in the identification of vulnerable populations to excessive heat exposure or elevated aeroallergen burdens; predicting the emergence of harmful algae blooms in the presence of increased water temperatures and nutrient run-offs; impacts of projected temperature increases on current air quality regulations/standards and its implication on future respiratory and cardiovascular diseases burdens.

Each fellow is encouraged to pursue research objectives which take maximum advantage of the opportunities available at NCAR and CDC. Fellows have direct access to the NCAR and CDC computers and libraries, and can obtain appropriate access to other research facilities by mutual agreement with the appropriate project or facility. Special needs (e.g., for laboratory facilities) can often be met but should be arranged in advance through the appropriate project mentor or facility.

Fellows are expected to participate in postdoctoral and scientific community activities including seminars, lecture series, and research reviews and in community service activities during their term.

Priority Research Areas

Strong preference will be given to candidates who propose work on one of the priority research areas; however, applicants with related interests not covered in the priority research areas will also be considered. Applicants (whether proposing work in the priority research areas or not) are highly encouraged to contact one of the coordinators whose information has been provided to discuss the research plan they intend to propose; coordinators can assist in making contact with other scientific staff at CDC and NCAR.

Modeling Arboviral Disease Transmission

Many of the mosquito-borne diseases transmitted in the US and internationally are classified as arthropod-borne viruses, or arboviruses. Most arboviruses in the US are amplified in vertebrate hosts such as birds or small mammals, and a number of different mosquito species are implicated in the transmission of arboviruses. The combination of vector, host and pathogen contributes to the complex disease ecology of arboviruses. The post-doctoral fellow will cooperate with a multi-disciplinary team to model the spatial and temporal effects of weather, climate and other variables on the transmission dynamics of arboviruses. Arboviruses of particular interest include West Nile virus and Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, although models should be broadly applicable to other arboviruses. Temporal analysis will include the effects of short-term climatic events, seasonal changes, annual variation, and potential long-term climatic changes on virus amplification and disease transmission. Spatial components could include fine scale differences in vegetation within and among neighborhoods and river basins, to large-scale variations associated with regional differences within the USA, or between North American and tropical areas such as Puerto Rico and Guatemala. Initial predictive models will be evaluated with existing independent data sets obtained from NCAR, CDC or state and county health departments or by future field studies.

Modeling Bacterial Disease Transmission

The bacterial diseases of particular interest to this research area are those with arthropod vectors (primarily fleas and ticks) and zoonotic amplification hosts (most often small mammals). The combination of vector, host and pathogen contributes to complex ecologies of the disease. The post-doctoral fellow will cooperate with a multi-disciplinary team to model the effects of weather, climate and other variables on the distribution and abundance of bacterial disease vectors and the transmission dynamics of bacterial disease agents. Bacterial diseases of particular interest include plague, tularemia, and Lyme disease, although models should be broadly applicable to other vector-borne diseases. Temporal analyses may include the effects of short-term climatic events, seasonal changes, annual variation, and potential long-term climatic changes on vector abundance, bacterial amplification, human case occurrence and pathogen transmission. Spatial analyses may explore the relationship between spatial heterogeneity in temperature and rainfall, particularly in topographically diverse areas, and human risk of exposure to vector-borne bacterial pathogens. Initial predictive models will be evaluated with existing independent data sets obtained from NCAR, CDC or other state and county health departments or by future field studies.

Modeling Mosquito Populations for Management in Natural Disasters

Natural disasters often profoundly affect local ecosystems; one outcome can be conducive conditions for larger mosquito and other arthropod populations, which can hamper recovery efforts and adversely affect human health. The post-doctoral fellow will cooperate with a multi-disciplinary team to document the effects of adverse weather events such as wide scale flooding on mosquito activity. Using flooding and wind damage information generated by satellite imagery and mosquito trapping data from the ground, a modeled algorithm will be developed that will affect decision making for determining when emergency vector control is no longer needed in areas with no historical mosquito control data. Initial predictive models will be evaluated with existing independent data sets obtained from NCAR, CDC or other state and county health departments or by field studies to assess future management of mosquito disease vectors in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Climate, weather, and arbovirus transmission dynamics

Mosquito-borne viruses are some of the most important pathogens globally. Because transmission is dependent on mosquitoes, it is intrinsically linked to the environmental factors that regulate mosquito populations. Our work aims to elucidate the factors that contribute to the complex spatiotemporal dynamics of arbovirus transmission so that interventions may be more effectively designed and implemented. The postdoctoral fellow will research the influence of weather and climate on the transmission of several globally important arboviruses such as dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and chikungunya using existing data sets from CDC, NCAR, and other resources. Potential projects range from estimating the direct effects of temperature on transmission potential for individual mosquitoes to the influence of global climate on the spatial patterns of incidence. A special focus is put on identifying and investigating spatiotemporal heterogeneities. For example, though the main mosquito vector of dengue viruses is naturally dependent on rain water, the effect of additional precipitation in any given area may be positive, negative, or neutral depending on how much precipitation there already is and local water storage practices. Thus, while transmission mechanisms may be universal, the drivers of local dynamics may vary substantially. Understanding transmission on these two scales is fundamental for understanding evolving arboviral transmission dynamics and designing appropriate prevention activities. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in statistics and interest in public health, ecology, and spatiotemporal statistics.

Mapping Vulnerability to Excessive Heat Events and Aeroallergen Burdens

The post-doctoral fellow will cooperate with a multi-disciplinary team to map regional and local vulnerability to exposures of excessive heat events and degraded air quality within urban micro-climates. Extreme heat events are likely to increase in the future; studies show that the elderly and socially isolated are most vulnerable. Increased carbon dioxide levels and temperature will result in a longer growing season, altered allergenicity of pollen proteins, and heavier pollen loads, which may impact individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. Identifying communities most vulnerable to the excessive heat exposures and elevated aeroallergens through remote sensing technologies, various vegetative indices, health and demographic data, with the added component of climate modeling and forecasting applications will allow cities to better target preparedness and intervention strategies to promote health. Initial predictive models for the focus areas will be evaluated with existing independent data sets obtained from NCAR, CDC or other state and county health departments or by future field studies.

Modeling the Emergence of Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters

The post-doctoral fellow will cooperate with a multi-disciplinary team to model the impact of climate on the emergence of harmful algae blooms in coastal waters. Models will focus on the temporal and spatial coverage of these blooms, taking into consideration variables such as short and long-term climate variation including rising surface water temperature, expansion of suitable habitats and frequency of contamination among marine life. The models will also explore the relationship of environmental factors such as heavy rainfall with the emergence of the blooms. Initial predictive models will be evaluated with existing independent data sets obtained from NCAR, CDC or other state and county health departments or by future field studies.

Qualifications

An applicant must have a PhD, ScD, DrPH, DVM, MD or equivalent degree granted in an area specified above or must be able to complete such a degree and finish all thesis revisions and defense before starting the appointment. We encourage applications from women and minorities. Successful foreign applications will be contingent on visa and security requirements.

Primary criteria used in the selection of postdoctoral fellows are the applicant's scientific capability and potential, especially as indicated by originality and independence, and the match between the applicant's interests and the research opportunities available at NCAR and CDC.

Stipend and Benefits

Successful applicants will receive stipends on the same scale as other postdoctoral fellows at NCAR. Presently NCAR postdoctoral fellows receive a stipend of $57,500 in the first year, and $60,000 in the second year. These stipends are adjusted annually in October based on surveys of like institutions. All appointees are eligible for life and health insurance. Travel expenses to NCAR will be reimbursed according to UCAR relocation guidelines for the fellow and his or her family. Allowances of $750 for moving and storing personal belongings, and up to $3500 for annual scientific travel support will also be provided. If relocation to a CDC facility is necessary during the period of the fellowship, those relocation costs will be covered in accordance with UCAR relocation guidelines.

Number and Terms of Appointments

Two (2) postdoctoral fellowship training positions will be awarded. Appointments are for a maximum of two years. It is anticipated that these fellows will begin their appointments1 June 2013.

Program Coordinators

Dr. Mary Hayden, NCAR, mhayden@ucar.edu (303)497-8116
Dr. George Luber, CDC/NCEH, GLuber@cdc.gov (770)488-3429
Dr. Ben Beard, CDC/DVBD, CBeard@cdc.gov (970)221-6418

How to Apply

You will be applying for the NCAR/CDC Postdoctoral Fellowship through NCAR’s online application program. The program will prompt you to create a login and a profile that contains required information for our search. You will be asked to upload documents, and to provide the names of 4 references who will be sending letters of recommendation on your behalf.

Your application consists of 5 components:

1. Statement of Research (Must be a PDF document)
2. Curriculum Vita (Must be a PDF document)
3. Transcripts (Must be a PDF document)
4. Cover Letter (Must be a PDF document)
5. The names and email addresses of four references who will provide a letter of reference.

For more information about creating a PDF document, please go to: http://www.asp.ucar.edu/createpdf.php

Statement of Research

Your statement of research provides information about what you propose to research at NCAR and CDC in response to the priority research area descriptions provided above. Your proposed research should enhance and complement the research already being conducted at NCAR and CDC. Applicants are highly encouraged to contact the researcher or a coordinator whose information has been provided. Your statement of research should be a maximum of 3 pages (12pt font, single spaced). The document MUST be a PDF file.

Curriculum Vita

Your Curriculum Vita must be uploaded to the application program as a PDF document.

Transcripts

Your transcripts must be uploaded to our system as a PDF document. We only need your graduate transcripts, and they can be unofficial. Please get a copy of your transcript and scan it as a PDF document. If you attended an American institution and your transcript contains your social security number, please be sure to block out that number before scanning. If you attended graduate school at an institution that does not have transcripts, please provide a list of your graduate coursework and any grades/marks received.

Cover Letter

Please include a cover letter as a PDF document.

Letters of Reference

As part of the application process, we will need 4 letters of recommendation from your references. Your references will be able to upload their letters of recommendation for you directly into the application program. (The online application program will automatically send an email requesting a letter of reference to the email address that you enter into the system. The email will include an exclusive link that will allow them to upload a document. You will receive notice from the system when each of your references has successfully uploaded a letter on your behalf.)

If your reference has not received the automated email or has deleted it due to it being marked as spam (unsolicited bulk email) please have them send the letter via email to asp-apply@asp.ucar.edu

APPLICATIONS WILL NOT ACCEPTED AFTER 14 January 2013 (11:59 P.M. MST)

Please click here to download the instructions for the ASP application system. It is very important that you download and read this document.
http://www.asp.ucar.edu/pdfp/ch/how-to-apply.pdf

Please click here to access the Postdoc Application System
http://www.nsa.ucar.edu/pdoc2013/login.php

Background Materials

An extensive discussion of NCAR science is featured in the NCAR Annual Scientific Report, which can be found at http://www.nar.ucar.edu/ and in the NCAR Strategic Plan at https://ncar.ucar.edu/documents/strategic-plan/2009. Additional information on the NCAR scientific program can be found here, https://ncar.ucar.edu/labs-observatory/.

CDC's work in the area of climate change and public health is detailed online: http://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/default.htm. Public health topics covered by the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases are delineated at http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/. The website for the Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects is http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/.

Other NCAR/UCAR Postdoc Opportunities:
http://www.ucar.edu/opportunities/postdocs/

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