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13 Apr 2023

Full-Time Aquatic Animal Health Researcher

Ocean Associates Inc. – Posted by oai1 Port Orchard, Washington, United States

Job Description

Ocean Associates, Inc. (OAI) is seeking a candidate to submit in response to a request for proposal to support the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental Fisheries Science (EFS) Division’s Aquaculture and Marine Fish and Shellfish Biology Program. OAI conducts research, offers policy advice, and provides personnel support services to government and industry clients for marine fisheries and protected species.


The EFS Division examines the impact of diseases on fish and shellfish, and how different species/stocks, temperature, and anthropogenic stressors (e.g., contaminants) can alter the impact of disease. The Aquaculture and Marine Fish and Shellfish Biology Program is focused on biological questions pivotal to the sustainability of natural marine fish and shellfish populations and their artificial propagation for aquaculture. The goal is to utilize information gained from studying wild populations to enhance aquaculture. In reverse, information gained from experiments on artificial propagation can be used to understand the dynamics of wildmarine fish and shellfish populations and to aid in their management. Our science is used by commercial and Non‐ governmental organization (NGO) partners to enable and optimize their aquaculture operations.

Research of the EFS Division addresses at least three NWFSC research themes and several foci under those themes, including: i) sustainable, safe, and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities; ii) ecosystem approach to improvemanagement of marine resources; and iii) habitats to support sustainable fisheries and recovered populations.

The EFS Division conducts research in the areas of aquatic animal health and disease to assess the impact of diseases on both important cultured and wild species. These areas of research are important to the Center’s research programs with finfish andshellfish aquaculture and also assist in characterizing disease interactions between and among both wild and cultured species.

Disease of aquatic species can severely impact the health of both cultured and wild aquatic species at various life stages. Understanding disease dynamics requires knowledge of the epidemiological triad that consists of the host (fish/shellfish), the environment of the host and the disease‐causing pathogen that the host may contact.Aquatic animal health management requires knowledge of host immunology, molecular and microbiology, and how the environment interacts with pathogens and hosts to influence disease outbreaks.

The employee shall conduct research in the areas of aquaculture and aquatic animalhealth and disease and manage laboratory activities associated with a fish health and immunology laboratory. This will include assessment of the impact of diseases on both important cultured and wild fish and shellfish species. The employee will specifically perform vaccine and immunology research, diagnose and characterize disease agents, culture bacterial, viral, and parasitic fish/shellfish organisms, and utilize a range of molecular and microbiological assays to address important research questions. These areas of research are important to the Center’s research programs with finfish and shellfish aquaculture as well as characterizing disease interactions between and among both wild and cultured species.


Key tasks include the following:

1. Laboratory management and organization

The employee shall assist in set up, maintenance, and daily organization of a laboratory and be expected to operate specific equipment (e.g. qPCR, PCR cyclers, biosafety hoods, incubators, centrifuges, etc.). The employee shall keep the labappropriately stocked with general supplies, maintain laboratory equipment in properworking order, maintain safe chemical hygiene practices, assist the property manager with laboratory inventory, adhere to laboratory safety practices, ready hazardous waste for disposal, label chemicals, and provide general lab training to personnel as needed.

2. Fish disease challenge and host immune response analysis

The employee shall participate in disease challenge studies and in determining andanalyzing disease challenge studies of fish, which includes culturing pathogens of fish/shellfish, characterizing the pathogen using a variety of techniques (e.g. PCR/qPCR, ELISA, and eDNA techniques), assessing host immune response using molecular and standard assays, and properly storing frozen bacterial or viral stocks for later experiments. The employee shall expose fish/shellfish to aquatic pathogens, collect samples by necropsy, and record data. The employee shall monitor mortalities over time. Autoclave waste at the end of experiments. The employee shall be proficient in all aspects of molecular and immunological methods, laboratory disease challenges, and techniques such as SDS‐PAGE, Western blotting, 2‐D PAGE, histology, ELISA, qPCR, etc.

3. Determine the degree of phenotypic variation in host response

The employee shall optimize methods for determining the degree of phenotypic variation in host responses to various pathogens and environmental influences. Optimizing methods may include determining and obtaining an appropriate pathogen,determining the appropriate concentration of the pathogen, and determining optimal water temperature for optimal mortality. Environmental influences examined may include contaminants, ocean acidification, temperature, and predators.

4. Fish husbandry of both finfish and shellfish

The employee shall work with the aquaculture team and periodically assist with husbandry for both finfish and shellfish as needed. This may include raising artemiaand rotifers, cleaning tanks, feeding fish, and measuring water quality parameters necessary to produce healthy finfish and shellfish for performing experiments.

Start Date: Estimated to start in Summer 2023

Location: Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Manchester Research Station, Port Orchard, WA.

Salary and Benefits: This is a full-time position with benefits. Salary commensurate with experience between $28 and $42/hr.

Travel: Travel is anticipated for this task order. Travel will be required for regional meetings and conferences to discuss and present project related research in the US and beyond.


The following minimum qualification is required:

  • Master’s degree, or higher, from an accredited college or university with a majordirectly related in a field of study as related to the requirements of specific task order outlined below with emphasis in fisheries.

Additional required qualifications shall include:

  • Experience in working with pathogens that affect aquatic species.
  • Experience in fish husbandry practices of aquatic species, and knowledge ofwater quality issues and diseases that affect aquatic animal health.
  • Experience in applying microbiological and molecular techniques to researchquestions on fish health.
  • Five (5) years or more experience working in a laboratory setting.
  • Ability to work effectively both individually and collaboratively in a team/group setting.
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback and implement appropriate action.

Only qualified applicants that meet minimum experience or background requirements stated above need apply. When applying for this position you will be asked to upload your resume at the end of this online application.

Applicants should submit a resume that includes the following:

  • Cover letter that briefly describes how you meet the required and preferred qualifications listed.
  • Work history for past 10 years or since last full-time education.
  • Education.
  • Previous experience or training with similar requirements.
  • Three professional references.
  • Include your name in the document file name.
  • Upload your resume in readable, not scanned, PDF or Word format (PDF is preferred).
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Job Categories: Equal Opportunities. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 60,000 - 80,000.

Job expires in 37 days.

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