Postdoctoral Researcher: Environmental DNA and ocean monitoring

The Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability invites applications for a three-year postdoctoral fellowship within the Center for Earth and Environmental Systems, based at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. 

The selected candidate will conduct research related to a funded project, “Identifying microbially-mediated marine eDNA decay rates to enhance ocean monitoring,” and work closely with a collaborative group of microbiologists, ecologists, and fisheries scientists from USC, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP), and the NOAA California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries (CalCOFI). This project will involve a series of mesocosm experiments focused on identifying the rate of marine eDNA decay as well as the microbial community members responsible for eDNA degradation and how these communities shift over time. The team will apply various ‘omics approaches including qPCR, DNA metabarcode sequencing, metagenomics, and DNA stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP) to resolve the microbial communities and their metabolic pathways that impact marine eDNA decay rates.

The selected candidate will spearhead lab-based experiments, field work, presentations to the project technical advisory committee and professional conferences, and will lead and contribute to peer-reviewed manuscripts based on the findings of these investigations. The location of the position will be in the greater Los Angeles area; office and lab space will be provided at the USC University Park Campus near downtown Los Angeles. Experiments will primarily take place at the SCCWRP facility in Costa Mesa, CA and at the Wrigley Institute’s marine laboratory on Catalina Island (the Wrigley Marine Science Center) located 21 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, CA. The study will require some extended (~1 week, paid-for) stays at the marine laboratory; boat transportation and island housing are provided. The selected candidate can also develop other related research of interest that fits within the Earth & Environmental Systems center, as opportunities arise. 


Individuals with a Ph.D. and research interests in biology, ecology, microbiology, marine sciences, or related fields are encouraged to apply; we especially seek scholars with a strong background in one or more of the following areas: microbiology, marine microbial ecology, biochemistry, DNA metabarcode sequencing, metagenomics, cultivation of microbes, coding in R, statistical methods, and/or stable-isotope probing. Preferred start date is Fall 2023. 

This is an in-person, fixed-term position that will be based in Los Angeles, CA. The position is full-time (100% FTE), 12-months/year, with an initial term appointment of one year (12 months) and the expectation of renewal for two additional years based on performance and funding. The salary range for this position is $70,000-80,000; benefits will be provided. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

About the Wrigley Institute:

The mission of the Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability is to inspire global environmental solutions through frontier research and education. The institute is in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, one of the nation’s premier research universities. The Wrigley Institute also has its own dedicated campus on California’s beautiful Santa Catalina Island. The Wrigley Institute is part of USC’s oldest and largest school, the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and plays a key role in USC’s high-profile sustainability initiatives.

Through education, research, and engagement, the Wrigley Institute trains the next generation of environmental leaders, develops original solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems, and encourages nonpartisan action for sustainability and environmental justice. The Wrigley Institute is home to:

  1. The Environmental Studies academic program, which grants both undergraduate and graduate degrees;
  2. The Wrigley Marine Science Center, our Catalina Island campus and field research base;
  3. USC Sea Grant, which leads research, education, and outreach activities with a specific focus on policy and management of the ‘urban ocean’;
  4. Research centers on Earth & Environmental Systems, Applied Environmental Solutions, and Social Transformation;
  5. The USC Hyperbaric Chamber, which serves the Southern California dive community; and
  6. Signature public events that bring together business leaders, policy makers, activists, and scholars for conversations of consequence on the environment and sustainability.

A position at the Wrigley Institute is an opportunity to help solve some of the most important challenges of our era. We are growing rapidly, with dedicated communications and DEI programs to help maximize our reach and ensure that the work we do is accessible to and beneficial for everyone.

Those who work at the Wrigley Institute are dedicated to helping create a more sustainable future!

To Apply:

Applications will be accepted until a suitable candidate has been identified. To apply, please send the following to both Dr. John Heidelberg ( and Dr. Susanna Theroux ( a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, examples of research including refereed journal articles, official graduate transcripts, and the names and contact information for three professional references.

Please contact Dr. John Heidelberg ( and Dr. Susanna Theroux ( with any questions.