INFORMS Open Forum

Postdoctoral position in decision analysis, SARS-CoV-2, and wildlife

  • 1.  Postdoctoral position in decision analysis, SARS-CoV-2, and wildlife

    Posted 07-31-2020 15:41
    Postdoctoral research scientist – Risk analysis for SARS-CoV-2 in North American bats

    Position summary:
    Seeking a postdoctoral scientist whose interests lie at the nexus of human disease, bat ecology, and decision analysis.

    The novel betacoronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that has caused a pandemic disease in humans, arose from a mammalian host, possibly Old-World bats in the family Rhinolophidae. This raises an important question about whether North and South American bats could be vulnerable to infection with SARS-CoV-2, via contact with humans, which in turn raises questions about whether there may be reciprocal spread to humans via a bat reservoir. We have conducted an initial analysis of this risk, but additional work is needed to further characterize the risk of human-to-bat and reciprocal transmission, and to work with management agencies to assess available mitigation strategies to reduce these transmission probabilities.

    We seek a postdoctoral scientist to update and extend a risk analysis for SARS-CoV-2 in North American bats ( and possibly expand it to other wildlife. The candidate will work directly with state, federal, and tribal management agencies to identify and assess potential mitigation strategies to reduce transmission risk. The work will involve collaborating with managers to identify management objectives and mitigation actions; facilitating expert elicitations regarding parameters for which there are few data; developing and using models of human and bat epidemiology to evaluate management strategies which may be effective at reducing transmission risk; and identifying research needs and funding for future work to address various management uncertainties.

    Competitive candidates will have skills in modeling, estimation, expert elicitation, decision analysis, and/or optimization, with previous experience leading a collaborative research project and familiarity with disease ecology, epidemiology, and bat ecology. The successful candidate will also have excellent writing and personal communication skills, and a demonstrated desire and ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals. Applicants are expected to have earned a Ph.D. degree in a relevant discipline, preferably within the last 5 years.

    Salary and benefits are competitive, with support available for at least 13 months. Some travel funds will be available to support visits with study team members and outside cooperators, to attend regional workshops during model development, and to attend professional conferences.

    The position will be based at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD or the Conte Anadromous Fish Research Lab in Turners Falls, MA. Work will involve close collaboration with the PIs stationed at these facilities.

    Send a letter describing your background and experiences as they relate to this position, and a CV with names and contact information for three references to Evan Grant ( and Mike Runge ( Applications will be reviewed as they are received, until 20 August.

    Michael Runge
    Research Ecologist
    USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
    Laurel MD