Super science postdoctoral fellowships available at the Australian Institute of Marine Science

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is the leading national organisation researching tropical marine ecosystems. The Institute has world-class laboratory facilities, two modern research vessels and extensive technical support. Facilities are being enhanced with $55M of capital funds from the Australian Government. This will include a state-of-the-art experimental ocean simulator in an extensive seawater precinct to support innovative research into coral spawning, water quality and climate change.

As part of the Australian Government’s Super Science Initiative (Marine and Climate), AIMS has received competitive funding from the Australian Research Council to support three exceptional early-career researchers. Successful applicants will conduct original research within a Project entitled ?A Changing Climate on the Great Barrier Reef: Present and Future Implications?, with a focus on the following topics:

1. Interactive effects of changing climate and water quality on corals and coral reefs
(Position No. 468):

Position summary:
– To conduct innovative experimental and/or desktop research to investigate the interactive effects of multiple stressors from changing climate (warming seawater/declining pH) and water quality (inshore nutrient loading/sedimentation) on corals and coral reefs.
– To investigate whether improved inshore water quality would ameliorate the impact of global warming on coral reefs.
– Contribute to the identification and definition of specific research questions within this framework, and the development of new approaches to address these.
– Lead and participate in original research, which may be field or laboratory based experimental research, research taking advantage of natural settings, and/or desk based work focusing on the synthesis and interpretation of the wealth of existing data on the subject.

2. Coral cellular microbes: community transitions and roles in a changing climate
(Position No. 469):

Position summary:
– Investigate the functional gene changes of the coral holobiont bacterial community during transition of corals from healthy to experimentally stressed (temperature, reduced water pH, nutrients) and diseased states.
– Correlate bacterial gene expression changes and coral/zooxanthellae gene expression during experimental stress experiments on corals.
– Investigate the bacterial community and functional shifts of coral microbial communities in relation to experimentally induced coral stress signs.
– Explore if bacterial communities return to the pre-stressed profiles in relation to structure, location and function.

3. Coral associated viruses: pathogens, mutualists or agents of evolution in a changing climate
(Position No. 470)

Position summary:
– Isolate viruses and viral nucleic acids for virome sequence analysis from (1) the water surrounding the coral, (2) the coral surface mucus layer, (3) the coral tissue with all its symbionts, and (4) the zooxanthellae associated with the coral.
– Conduct bioinformatic analyses on virome sequence data, either as a lead scientist or in collaboration with bioinformaticists associated with the project, in order to assess viral diversity present in corals, and gain insight into the functions of coral-associated viruses based on gene content.
– Conduct conventional and/or quantitative PCR to assess spatial and temporal patterns in abundance of certain viral groups in corals.
– Explore coral genome sequences for signatures of lateral gene transfer, either as a lead scientist or in collaboration with bioinformaticists associated with the project.
– Undertake original and adapted field or laboratory based experimental research and data synthesis.

These fellowships are available from 1 July 2011, and represent an exceptional opportunity for early career researchers with skills in marine ecophysiology, molecular biology, microbiology and virology, prokaryote bioinformatics, ecological modelling or geochemistry and an interest in climate change impacts. More information about these jobs and detailed application kits can be found at

Successful candidates will join a collaborative, multidisciplinary team addressing important questions about the future of coral reefs. Ideal candidates will be high achievers with up to 3 years of postdoctoral experience in directly relevant research. Positions are available for 3 years fixed term and will be based in Townsville, Queensland. Generous working conditions apply including a commencing salary of AU$73,714 – AU$81,091 plus superannuation and other benefits.

Project specific inquiries may be made to:
– Position No. 468 – Dr Katharina Fabricius (
– Position No. 469 – Dr David Bourne (
– Position No. 470 – Dr Madeleine van Oppen (

General enquiries may be directed to AIMS Research Manager, Dr Lyndon Llewellyn (

Closing date for all positions is 4 March 2011.

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