Sept. 1, 2020, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

We are looking for a quantitative ecologist to join our team to work on the NSF Macrosystems project “MSA: Macro-demography of North America’s migratory birds”. During this two-year postdoc position you will work in a dynamic interdisciplinary group of ecologists and data analysts within the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The project is led by Adriaan Dokter (project PI), in collaboration with Alison Johnston and Frank La Sorte (co-PIs) and others.

Job posting available at AcademicJobsOnline.org. Also submit your application here.

Learn more about the Macrosystems NSF project here.


Lab of Ornithology
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

POSITION: Postdoctoral Associate, Quantitative Ecologist
LOCATION: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Center for Avian Population Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world’s leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The Lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where full-time faculty and other renowned professionals direct six world-class, mission-driven centers. Staff at the Lab teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, collect and disseminate world-famous digital resources on biodiversity, and engage with partner organizations and people around the world to conduct scientific research and conservation actions. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

The Cornell Lab is currently home to a vibrant community of several dozen postdoctoral associates working across all six centers, and we strive to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for this community that fosters personal growth and career advancement. The postdoc will work with a dynamic interdisciplinary group of ecologists and data analysts within the Center for Avian Population Studies. Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We’re an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and individuals with disabilities. We particularly encourage applications from individuals of under-represented minority groups within science.

This is a full-time appointment for two years, appointed annually with the second year conditional on satisfactory performance.


The North American continent is supporting 3 billion fewer birds today than in 1970, however the demographic mechanisms underlying these declines remain poorly understood. Within this NSF project we aim to develop a methodological framework to understand current population declines and point towards a roadmap for the recovery and conservation of the mass migration of birds. The Postdoctoral Associate will examine population change from a large-scale demographic perspective, relying on ‘big data’ resources that can be readily generalized across many species. The postdoc will collaborate with Cornell Lab’s quantitative team to develop macro-demographic indices of avian recruitment and mortality, based on continent-wide radar data (NEXRAD), broad-scale citizen-science data (eBird) and fine-scale data from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and Phenocam. These novel indices will be related to environmental data, to gain mechanistic insights into how climate extremes are driving population changes, and to assess how macro-scale demographic patterns scale down to individual ecoregions and local sites.


  • Develop and validate novel tools and approaches for estimating macro-demographic indices of abundance, recruitment, and mortality in a large-scale avian migration system, based on radar and eBird data. (30%)
  • Describe the primary macro-scale demographic patterns and characteristics of the North-American migration system, and test hypothesized mechanisms for these patterns by quantifying the associations between the macro-demographic indices and extreme climatic events. (30%)
  • Present results at professional meetings, conferences, and popular seminars. Prepare peer reviewed papers and other research products. (25%)
  • Engage in ongoing academic and intellectual life within the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Lab of Ornithology and at Cornell University. (10%)
  • Participate in general project management and working directly with internal and external project collaborators. Perform related projects and special duties as assigned. (5%)


  • PhD in (quantitative) ecology, applied statistics, or a related field with strong background in data science, statistics and model development.
  • Ability to apply quantitative methods to ecological hypotheses and questions.
  • Multi-disciplinary skills to effectively bridge fields, including population ecology, movement ecology and geospatial statistics.
  • Strong record of success conducting research and scholarly activities, including publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Experience with R and/or other programming languages.
  • Experience working with large datasets and cloud computing
  • Experience in ornithology and affinity with birds are a bonus, but not required.


Commensurate with experience


Supervised by Dr. Adriaan Dokter with co-advisors Dr. Alison Johnston and Dr. Frank La Sorte


Please send a single pdf file containing a letter of application outlining qualifications, Statement of Contribution to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and interest in the position, curriculum vitae, 1 example publication and appendix code, and the names and contact details for two references. Application materials should be submitted to Academic Jobs Online at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/16732. Inquiries about position specifics can be directed by email to Dr. Adriaan Dokter. Review of applicants will begin Sept. 28, 2020 and continue until the position is filled.

Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We’re an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and individuals with Disabilities.

Application deadline: 2020/09/27 11:59PM EST.