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Post-Doctoral Associate in the Division Science Biology, Selective Coral Breeding, Dr. John Burt

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Closing date
12 Dec 2023

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Academic Discipline
Biological Sciences, Life sciences
Job Type
Academic Posts, Postdocs
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


The Burt Lab at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join our team in a forward-looking project aimed at using innovative breeding techniques to enhance the thermal tolerance of corals. The candidate will lead a selective breeding program to cross heat tolerant corals from the Arabian Gulf, home of the world’s hottest coral reefs, with less resilient conspecifics from within and outside of the region to enhance offspring thermal tolerance, and will use the tools of quantitative genetics/genomics and molecular biology to analyze the underpinnings and follow-on implications of these processes. The individual will collaborate with a larger team of researchers investigating related aspects of coral biology (e.g. molecular mechanisms driving variation in thermal tolerance in wild populations; the host-associated microbial assemblage; etc.). 

Located in a region with the highest recorded coral thermal tolerance, NYU Abu Dhabi provides a distinctive platform for research and innovation in coral breeding and research on adaptation to thermal extremes, and our proximity (2.5 hr drive) to more thermally-benign reefs of the Indian Ocean make this an unparalleled setting for comparative research. 

The candidate will operate under the supervision of Prof. John Burt, head of the NYUAD Marine Biology Lab, and will be affiliated with the Arabian Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences (ACCESS), working with a growing team of Post-doctoral Researchers, Research Assistants, and Aquarists/Technicians who are collaboratively investigating the biology of the uniquely adapted corals and other reef fauna from the Arabian Gulf. In the interdisciplinary ACCESS research center, where Burt serves as co-PI, the candidate will collaborate closely with researchers across NYUAD units including ACCESS, the Marine Biology Laboratory, the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB), the Water Research Center (WRC), and the CITIES Center, thus integrating into a diverse and dynamic team with research spanning genomics and molecular biology to ecosystem-level ecology. 

The position will be for two or three years (length depending on the candidate’s interest, and potentially renewable depending on performance; funding is available for up to 5 years) and will begin in mid-2024 (between May – July, with some flexibility for the right candidate).

Principal Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement innovative selective breeding programs aimed at enhancing thermal tolerance in coral offspring. This includes strategic cross-breeding of heat-tolerant corals from the Arabian Gulf, a region with the highest recorded coral thermal tolerance, with less resilient conspecifics, both locally and from outside the Gulf.
  • Utilize advanced molecular biology techniques to analyze the genetic diversity and heritability of key coral traits. This involves a deep focus on understanding and maximizing thermal tolerance, stress resistance and other critical physiological traits.
  • Engage in research and application of strategies for heritability and selective breeding. Investigate the genetic inheritance of key traits like thermal tolerance, and design breeding programs that balance enhancing desirable traits with the potential for physiological trade-offs.
  • Collaborate in a team to enhance coral offspring survival, health, and growth throughout their life cycle to support efforts to scale-up larval production and enhance post-settlement success. This includes involvement in all stages from gamete collection, larval rearing, to assessing and improving post-settlement performance. [This will be led/managed by the candidate, but can be supported through engagement of a Research Assistant].
  • Actively collaborate with other Post-doctoral Researchers and participate in research on related aspects of the larger program (e.g. an individual who will be identifying thermally tolerant individuals (for use in this and related studies) and investigating drivers of population-level variation in hosts; another who would collaborate to inoculate larvae/spat with priobiotic treatments and another infecting individuals with varied strains of cultured Symbiodiniaceae, etc.). 


The qualifications and experience serve as the primary criteria for selecting candidates:

Required Education, Certifications, Licensing or Training

  • PhD in biological sciences, evolution, genetic molecular ecology, or a related (must be completed by May 2024)
  • Advanced SCUBA certification, with research-based diving experience

Preferred Education, Certifications, Licensing or Training

  • Experience conducting lab (e.g. aquarium/CBASS) and field-based coral thermal stress experiments
  • Drivers license in home country
  • Boat operator certification would be an asset
  • Scientific Diver (e.g. AAUS) certification would be an asset

Required Work and Related Experience 

  • Experience with coral spawning for experimental purposes is required
  • A track-record of first-author publications relevant to the position
  • Proficiency in lab techniques in molecular biology/genetics
  • Demonstrated competence with statistical analyses/bioinformatics

Preferred Work and Related Experience 

  • Multi-omics experience would be an asset
  • Coding experience (R, Python) would be a strong asset
  • Supervision experience of students and/or research staff

Application Instructions

Applications must be submitted via Interfolio by 12 December 2023; interviews will be conducted over the following two weeks for those selected. The application should consist of a 1-2 page cover letter elaborating the candidate's background, as well as how each qualification criterion is met. Also include a detailed curriculum vitae, including contact information for three references. For any questions, please reach out to Dr. John Burt

Employment is contingent upon successful completion of security, health, and reference checks, among other HR processes. The position is for a two-year fixed-term contract, potentially renewable subject to performance and funding. The compensation package is highly competitive and fully tax-free, including benefits such as housing allowance, annual flights, healthcare, and provisions for dependents, and the candidate will engage in a supportive work environment that has unparalleled opportunities for professional and personal development. Come join our vibrant research team in the Burt Lab, offering unparalleled research opportunities, professional growth, and a rich cultural experience in a dynamic international setting.

About NYUAD:

NYU Abu Dhabi is a degree-granting research university with a fully integrated liberal arts and science undergraduate program in the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Engineering. NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU New York, and NYU Shanghai, form the backbone of NYU’s global network university, an interconnected network of portal campuses and academic centers across six continents that enable seamless international mobility of students and faculty in their pursuit of academic and scholarly activity. This global university represents a transformative shift in higher education, one in which the intellectual and creative endeavors of academia are shaped and examined through an international and multicultural perspective. As a major intellectual hub at the crossroads of the Arab world, NYUAD serves as a center for scholarly thought, advanced research, knowledge creation, and sharing, through its academic, research, and creative activities.

EOE/AA/Minorities/Females/Vet/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Employer

UAE Nationals are encouraged to apply.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

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NYU is an equal opportunity employer committed to equity, diversity, and social inclusion.

Deadline Dec 12, 2023 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time

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