Postdoctoral Associate in Computer Science

Cornell University

United States

Postdoctoral Associate

Cornell Employee - Postdoctoral Associate – Data or Computer Scientist

This is a data science postdoctoral position with the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab (CWHL). The CWHL is a 10 member laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. The scope of CWHL’s research spans wildlife health issues across North America, and our scientists collaborate with researchers and agency representatives from academic institutions, state and provincial wildlife agencies, and federal natural resource agencies. 

This postdoctoral position will work 100% FTE on the Surveillance Optimization Project for Chronic Wasting Disease (SOP4CWD) https://cwhl.vet.cornell.edu/project/sop4cwd. The SOP4CWD is multi-year modeling and big data endeavor that leverages traditional and new techniques in data and statistical science to generate data-driven recommendations for surveillance sampling of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer. The modeling outputs will guide managerial activities aimed to monitor and manage the spread of CWD through deer populations in the eastern US and Canada.

Phase 1 of SOP4CWD requires the setup, calibration, and execution of traditional and novel computational models for epidemiological research for delivery of sampling recommendations to participating states and provinces. Phase 2 of SOP4CWD requires the development of the Data Dashboard, an interactive, online repository of model outputs and graphics that communicate the data-driven surveillance recommendations to wildlife agency representatives. Phase 3 of SOP4CWD requires the development of the Data Warehouse, a region-wide repository of disease, demographic, hazard, and risk data as generated and provided by the participating state and provincial wildlife agencies. Phase 4 of SOP4CWD requires the development of the “autonomous computational pipeline” that links the software products and informational transfer among Phases 1-3.

At the time of this posting, the SOP4CWD collaboration has gathered data from over a dozen state and provincial wildlife agencies. The goal of the project is to forge cross-jurisdiction cooperation among wildlife agencies. As such, in addition to the overall research goals, there exist countless unforeseeable logistical and mechanical puzzles needing clever solutions to mesh the data, its storage, the models, and their outputs into and out of the pre-existing managerial infrastructure that may or may not be consistent across agency jurisdictions. The primary project goal is to produce a single, cohesive, useful, and user-friendly system.

If you like thinking through and solving diverse puzzles from simultaneous perspectives of ecology, wildlife, disease, statistics, mathematics, computer science, data management, and natural resource management, then this position is for you!

As a postdoctoral associate, some of your specific duties will include:

  • Design, engineer, and/or improve existing workflow software that transfer information from its raw form into a format usable for local, state, or regional scientific analysis and communication. This includes the design and creation of repeatable and scientifically sound data cleaning, standardization, and/or processing workflows for data that originates from the agency in any raw form. Workflow software should produce structural outputs of data that satisfy the formatting requirements necessary for immediate (and autonomous) upload into several statistical and/or algorithmic models. Workflow software must also include the detailed debugging of command codes and annotated comments such that the software may be replicated by other programmers and can be used to autonomously clean and format data as it is submitted to the Data Warehouse by participating state and provincial agencies. 
  • Develop data visualization tools to illustrate model outputs including maps, tables, graphs, and narratives that aid interpretation of the models and teach users about the quantitative processes.
  • Develop and implement novel statistical modeling and/or algorithmic approaches to integrate convenience, observational, and/or limited wildlife disease data into pre-existing and/or novel mathematical models to advance knowledge and prediction of wildlife diseases.
  • Develop software that autonomously links new and existing R code of mathematical and/or statistical models into a single, cohesive, robust computational pipeline, which is capable of seamlessly importing data from the Data Warehouse and exporting modeling results to the Warehouse and Dashboard.
  • Edit pre-existing R software to reduce runtime of user interface or algorithms through parallelization and/or modularization of code and/or through other modifications of codes as appropriate and/or applicable.  
  • Develop software to ensure privacy of sensitive data and research outputs, including the development of log-in pages and/or the development of secure computational linkages between the Data Warehouse, the models, and the Data Dashboard.
  • Generate collaborative research outputs (scientific publications, software, outreach materials, grant applications, and/or presentations) that develop and/or communicate software, data science techniques, mathematical techniques, and/or new statistical techniques to advance the field of wildlife disease, to aid in prediction, reproducibility, and communication of scientific knowledge of the field, and to increase quantitative infrastructures available to researchers in the fields of resource management, ecology, wildlife, and/or wildlife diseases.
  • Communicate research findings to all audiences, including the development of materials that are understandable to persons with education levels ranging from high school through doctorate in fields that may or may not include wildlife disease, wildlife management, or ecology. 
  • Independently, or with a team, execute all stages of the scientific publication process, including the initial draft, submission, revisions, finalization, and promotion of the products to contribute to the body of knowledge in the scientific field.
  • Participate in steering, planning, and/or project update meetings with the CWHL and collaborators and work closely with personnel at the CWHL, and as needed with other project partners including modelers, researchers, programmers, and agency representatives of partnering entities.
  • Other duties as assigned.

As a postdoctoral associate, you must:

  • Have the ability to work independently and make scientifically sound and defensible modeling and/or software programming decisions with the highest scientific integrity.
  • Be a self-starter, capable of meeting deadlines and keeping your project responsibilities on track for on-time completion from your remote location.
  • Be comfortable asking for assistance from others and/or providing others with assistance if asked.
  • Be willing to work with and collaborate effectively with a diverse community of professionals that may or may not understand the technical details of the methods, procedures, or infrastructures of the quantitative field.
  • Have a problem-solving attitude.

Required Qualifications:

  • PhD in Statistical Science, Data Science, Computer Science, or related field.
  • Fluency in R and R Studio.
  • Proficiency in the development/maintenance of databases, data storage, processing, and APIs.
  • Proficiency in data security, including the appropriate handling of sensitive data, and the maintenance of data privacy throughout all computations and workflows.
  • Interest in the creative development of quantitative infrastructure capable of leveraging existing sources of opportunistic and/or incomplete wildlife data sets to aid in the advancement of the use of available data in natural resource management decisions.
  • The ability to invent creative yet scientifically sound ways to think through and overcome obstacles with missing and/or incomplete data in both small and large scopes.
  • Willingness to teach yourself what you need to know to complete your duties, but capable of asking for help if you run into a dead end.
  • Your own computer, workstation, and reliable internet connection.
  • Tenacity to solve novel and unforeseen scientific problems, big and small.

Preferred Additional Qualifications:

  • Proficiency in the field or application of ecological mathematical modeling, such as familiarity and/or facility with agent-based or population-based ecological models.
  • Proficiency in R Shiny and the development of web site interactive applications.
  • Previous education and/or professional experience in boots-on-the-ground wildlife disease, wildlife, ecology, natural resource management settings, with field experience that included data collection and/or the participation in management discussions a particular plus.
  • Proficiency in Net Logo and/or the running of computational simulations as an experimental methodology.
  • Dedication to a career track in wildlife and/or natural resources management.

For more information on SOP4CWD, contact Dr. Krysten Schuler at the CWHL (cwhl@cornell.edu) or visit https://cwhl.vet.cornell.edu/project/sop4cwd

Timeline: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and position start is flexible, but ideally would be on-board by 6/2021. Position is funded for 1 year with the possibility of extension if additional funding is secured, and successful performance.

To Apply: visit  https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/18043 to submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, contact information for three references, and a research statement.

Location: Ithaca, NY. The opportunity to work remotely will be reviewed and decided upon approved US domestic locations that meet all liability and compensation policies.

Employment Assistance:

If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University's Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at voice (607) 255-3976, fax (607) 255-7481, or email at owdi@cornell.edu.

For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting.

Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor. You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday - Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application.

Notice to Applicants:

Please read the required Notice to Applicants statement by clicking here. This notice contains important information about applying for a position at Cornell as well as some of your rights and responsibilities as an applicant.

EEO Statement:

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university's mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.


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