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Postdoc: Kelp Modeling - Hakai Institute

Postdoc: Kelp Modeling

Photo by Markus Thompson

We invite applications for a Postdoctoral research position to lead development of an analytical framework for a Spatially Integrated Kelp Production Model’.

The Hakai Postdoctoral researcher will be responsible for developing and building an open-source analytical framework to combine and integrate local-to-regional scale habitat data derived from field-based surveys and remote sensing platforms (see dataset overview – BC Kelp Integrated Datasets). The end goal of this model framework is to lay the foundation for assessing and forecasting kelp biomass and productivity in British Columbia (Canada), thereby supporting the stewardship of coastal habitats in an era of changing climate and shifting biological baselines. 

We invite Postdoctoral applicants with interests in applied ecology, and technical expertise in modelling to submit their ideas and approach for this broad-scale task. In a cover letter, applicants should demonstrate their quantitative approach and skills to addressing this task. The cover letter should provide a brief proposal of ideas for creative and quantitatively rigorous approaches to construct a framework for a ‘Spatially Integrated Kelp Production Model’

The model framework can make use a variety of analytical approaches to integrate field-based monitoring data (e.g. field-based data on kelp biomass, productivity and distribution from surface/sub-surface quadrat/transect surveys and drone mapping, remote sensing data from satellite and plane-based platforms (see BC Kelp Integrated Datasets), as well as qualitative data from Indigenous stewardship staff field observations. We envision that local ecological knowledge (LEK) could be used to validate the biomass and productivity outputs from the model.

BC Kelp Integrated Datasets Figure. Core dataset parameters bounded by method of data acquisition. Arrows demonstrate potential linkages between datasets to model

Background and skills

We invite applicants from a variety of fields to tackle this big picture project using a suite of quantitative skills. Backgrounds in statistical population modeling, stock assessment, expertise in remote sensing, and/or advanced spatial statistics and machine learning are encouraged. Interest in learning new skills will be supported by the wide-ranging expertise of the project advising team. Knowledge of marine system dynamics is preferred, but experience in multi-scale assessment of terrestrial system productivity may also be transferable. Experience in kelp forest ecology is beneficial but not essential. 

In addition to experience with ecological modelling, successful applicant must also have demonstrated ability collaborating with a diverse network of researchers  They will work closely with researchers at the Hakai InstituteMaPP (Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast), and Florida State University as well as with collaborators at the University of VictoriaUniversity of British Columbia, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and a number of other Provincial and Federal institutions. The Postdoc will also work closely with other postdocs connected to active kelp projects in BC: kelp resilience and remote sensingfisheries and ecosystem modelling

The Hakai post doc will be based at UBC (University of British Columbia), but will have the opportunity to work remotely to collaborate with organizations across British Columbia. They will work with Hakai, MaPP and collaborators to synthesize data, author/co-author publications and build the framework for the Spatially Integrated Kelp Production Model. They will play a leadership role within this collaborative project, organizing monthly meetings to draw on diverse datasets assembled by the BC Kelp Mapping Analytical Working Group. 

Expected outcomes from proposed work

  • Lead manuscripts that focus on describing the analytical methodology for the Spatially Integrated Kelp Production Model, demonstrated through a case study from data rich regions and an open-access model;
  • Collaborate, with Hakai Scientists and collaborators, on publications examining kelp ecosystem change dynamics, subtidal to canopy biomass scaling, and carbon cycling (amongst others); 
  • Work with MaPP Partners and other collaborators to inform the regional kelp monitoring program and ecosystem-based management of coastal systems in B.C.;
  • Contribute to the evolution of kelp spatial EOVs (Essential Ocean Variables) for CIOOS Pacific based on outputs from the model.


We encourage diverse applicants to apply for this position; equity and diversity are essential to research excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person. Candidates of any nationality are encouraged to apply. 

This is a two-three year position, depending on years since graduation and experience of the applicant.  Salary is commensurate with experience, starting at $50,000 CAD per year, including Mandatory Employment Related Benefits. A research budget for travel and supplies is also available. 

Please submit a CV and a cover letter outlining technical and collaborative qualifications (1 page) and proposed ideas and approach for this project (1-2 pages)Direct your application package to: Dr. Margot Hessing-Lewis, Hakai Institute (margot@hakai.org), C/O the advising team (below). 

Project advising team

  • Dr. Margot Hessing-Lewis, Hakai Institute, IOF UBC – nearshore ecology
  • Dr. Rebecca Martone, Province of BC/MaPP – kelp ecology and marine planning
  • Dr. Dan Okamoto, Florida State University – population modeling
  • Dr. Tom Bell, UCSB – remote sensing and geospatial analyses
  • Dr. Emily Rubidge, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, UBC Forestry – seascape ecology and conservation
  • Dr. Maycira Costa, UVic – remote sensing and coastal dynamics

This call will be open through Nov 1, or until a suitable candidate is found.