Exciting postdoc opening in spatial statistics at Michigan: Coccidioides is coming, and only you can stop it!

Jon Zelner is an collaborator who does great work on epidemiology using Bayesian methods, Stan, Mister P, etc.

He’s hiring a postdoc, and it looks like a great opportunity:

Epidemiological, ecological and environmental approaches to understand and predict Coccidioides emergence in California.

One postdoctoral fellow is sought in the research group of Dr. Jon Zelner (Dept. of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health) who is leading a cluster epidemiologic modeling studies as part of a new NIH-funded study (R01AI148336; 2020-2025) examining the emergence of coccidioidomycosis (cocci) in Southwestern states, which are currently experiencing among the highest incidence rates ever recorded. This project will be completed in collaboration with Dr. Justin Remais (Environmental Health Sciences, UC Berkeley). The research will fill critical gaps in our understanding of the
environmental transmission of cocci, including the dust exposures that pose the highest risk of infection; the role of zoonotic hosts in sustaining Coccidioides spp. survival and growth in soil; how land use, drought, and wind influence pathogen dynamics in soil and air; and how variation in dust and pathogen exposure interact with sociodemographic risk factors.

The postdoctoral fellow will have the opportunity to contribute to a cluster of studies that integrate machine learning/predictive modeling of the spatiotemporal distribution of pathogens in soil and air; whole genome sequencing to discover how pathogens adapt to changes in their physical environment; metagenomic analysis to determine taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships of known and newly emerged Coccidioides strains; precise methods of dust and exposure estimation; and spatiotemporal analysis of population-level data to elucidate fundamental aspects of cocci epidemiology. These activities will support two core epidemiologic studies in California: a retrospective cohort study of over 65,000 cocci cases (2000-2018) to determine key environmental and demographic drivers of cocci transmission foci at a high spatial resolution; and a case-crossover study with prospective surveillance for incident cases to estimate the pathogen exposure-response relationship within key high-risk subgroups. A major goal is to inform the public health response to the current epidemic through the design of improved surveillance and environmental intervention.

The postdoc would join an exceptional team at Michigan, along with collaborators at Berkeley working on a collection of related studies examining the consequences of environmental change for the dynamics of infectious diseases. Ideal applicants would have a PhD and a demonstrated record of scientific achievement in infectious disease epidemiology, statistics, geospatial analysis, disease dynamics, or similarly quantitative fields in biology and medicine. Applicants should be proficient at statistical and scientific programming, for transmission modeling and data analysis (e.g., R, Python, Julia, or similar). Experience with Bayesian hierarchical modeling, spatio-temporal modeling, modeling dynamical systems, and high-performance computing [emphasis added] is especially valuable.

Candidates with backgrounds in statistics [emphasis added], applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, the quantitative environmental sciences, and physics are also encouraged to apply. A track record of research excellence and strong quantitative skills is essential, as well as a strong interest in the area of applied infectious disease epidemiology.

Interested applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, a 1-2 page letter that describes the professional qualifications for the above-described activities, and contact information for three references to Jon Zelner (jzelner@umich.edu).

In case you’re wondering what Coccidioides is, I looked it up for you on Wikipedia. Coccidioides is “a genus of dimorphic ascomycetes in the family Onygenaceae.” So there you have it.

Ann Arbor is the site of a world-class university with the world’s best psychology department, a world-class institute for social research, excellent departments of statistics and biostatistics, and the best college football team west of Ohio, north of Indiana, and east of Illinois and Wisconsin.