Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

Open MS position: Microbiome and Parasite Communities of Marine Mammals 

The Couch and Arnold Labs at Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR) are actively recruiting a masters student for a computational ecology position to study sea lion gastrointestinal parasite and microbiome communities. The student will use computational and bioinformatic tools to link microbial ecology with host health (see project description below). The trainee will gain a highly diverse interdisciplinary skill set in areas important for wildlife conservation (ecology, immunology, disease biology), computational biology (bioinformatics, statistics, data science, computer coding, data visualization), as well as gain a skill set which can be generally applied to the sciences (interpretation of scientific results, manuscript writing, presentation skills, and scientific communication). The trainee will be a part of the Comparative Health Sciences Program (CHS) through the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Admission to CHS PhD 
 pending successful completion of masters program is negotiable if desired.  
 
Prior experience using R, perl, unix/linux command line, data visualization, version control (git), or analysis of second generation sequencing data are preferred but not required. If no prior experience in these areas, the candidate should have a high motivation to learn the computational skillset. Demonstration of motivation (e.g. Coursera certificate) are a plus. 
 
Contacts:  
Claire Couch, Assistant Professor (Sr. Research), Department of Biomedical Sciences & Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences, Oregon State University.  
email: claire.couch@oregonstate.edu; website: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Claire-Couch 
 
Holly Arnold, Assistant Professor (Sr. Research), College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University. 
email: Holly.K.Arnold@gmail.com; website: https://arnold-lab.org/ 
 
 
Sea Lion Microbiome & Parasite Communities Project Overview:  
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Zoonotic Disease Initiative is currently funding the development of the Eastern Pacific Marine One Health Coalition (EPMOHC). The purpose of this program is to strengthen capacity for health monitoring, zoonotic disease surveillance, response and management in marine ecosystems. We are partnering with the EPMOHC to characterize gastrointestinal microbiome and parasite communities in California sea lions and Steller sea lions that are sampled nonlethally by EPMOHC members from Washington, Oregon, and California. The student will process high-throughput sequence data to characterize parasite and microbiome communities, and link these communities with metrics of general host health, immune function, and disease. The student will have some flexibility in the specific research questions they pursue using these data. However, they will be expected to make their results publicly available and accessible to conservation, management, and public health users. Students from groups that are underrepresented in ecology and computational science are encouraged to apply.  
 
To be considered for the position, please send a statement of interest, resume/CV, and undergraduate transcripts to claire.couch@oregonstate.edu and holly.k.arnold@gmail.com