Postdoc Researcher / Microbial Ecologist

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POST DATE 8/17/2016
END DATE 10/14/2016

University of Kansas Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS
AJE Ref #
Job Classification
Full Time
Job Type
Company Ref #
Entry Level (0 - 2 years)
Doctoral Degree


Position Overview
Dr. Ben Sikes is recruiting a postdoctoral researcher to join his lab in the University of Kansas. This position is a non-tenure leading post-doctoral researcher position established to conduct next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics of microbial communities in experiments related to fire-fungal feedbacks and modeling to link plant and fungal communities in pyrogenic ecosystems. Continuation of this position is contingent upon the availability of grant funding and satisfactory accomplishment of assigned duties.

The research focuses on potential feedbacks between fire, fungi, and plants in ecosystems with recurrent fires. The person would be responsible for sequencing and bioinformatics of samples collected at field sites and integrating soil fungi into existing models of fire-plant feedbacks. She/he would be based at the Kansas Biological Survey and the University of Kansas. Some brief periods of travel to collaborating institutions (Louisiana State University, Tall Timbers Research Station) will be expected. The postdoc would have no less than one quarter of her/his time to develop a related, independent research project based on interests. The postdoc would also be expected to contribute to teaching module development with the UKanTeach program as an outreach component of the research.

The broad research goal of the lab is to better understand the community ecology of soil microbes, particularly fungi, and integrate them into broader ecological theory and ecosystem management. We use a combination of field, greenhouse, and lab based experiments to assess the forces that structure soil microbial communities and their importance in fiery ecosystems. We utilize basic techniques including culturing, microscopy and plant growth responses combined with next-generation sequencing of communities and metagenomics. Example projects here: ( ) and the here ( ).

We seek individuals who are passionate about understanding microbial ecology and using that knowledge to better understand our environment. Required qualifications include a Ph.D. at the time of appointment or soon thereafter in ecology, environmental biology, bioinformatics, microbiology, or a related field. We require all candidates to have excellent mathematical capability, as well as fluid spoken and written English language skills. Preference will be given to researchers with backgrounds and experience in environmental sequencing/metagenomics, plant-fungal relationships in naturally disturbed systems, and/or ecological modeling in fire-frequented ecosystems.

The University of Kansas (KU) is a major research university with special strength in ecology and evolutionary biology. The EEB department has 40 tenured and tenure-track faculty working in a wide variety of areas, with National Research Council and Chronicle of Higher Education rankings in the top 10 in the USA. KU is located in the town of Lawrence, Kansas, about 40 miles from Kansas City. Lawrence is a progressive and cosmopolitan university town of about 100,000 people, with vibrant art, music, and sports scenes. Lawrence was ranked among the top ten college towns in the country in 2012 by, beating, for instance, Ann Arbor, MI, and Austin, TX.

Job Description
50% Sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of samples from field and greenhouse experiments, experimental design of fire-fungal feedback projects, modeling of fire-fungal-plant feedbacks.

25% Organization and curation of all metadata related to these projects. Manuscript preparation, professional training, and assistance with grant preparation.

25% Development of own parallel projects based on postdoc interests.

Required Qualifications
1. A Ph.D. in environmental biology, bioinformatics, microbiology, ecology or related field.
2. Experience with microbial community analysis including environmental sequencing and bioinformatics.
3. Background in statistics, and/or computer science as evidenced by work history or education.
4. Excellent written communication skills as evidenced by application materials.

To be appointed at the Postdoctoral Researcher title, it is necessary to have the PhD conferred at the time of hire. Appointments made without a diploma or certified transcript indicating an earned doctorate are conditional hires and are appointed on an acting basis not to exceed 6 months. Upon verification of degree the appointment will be extended to its full duration.

Preferred Qualifications
1. Experience with fire-frequented ecosystems.
2. Experience with analysis of next-generation sequencing data of microbial communities
3. Experience with soil fungi

Additional Candidate Instruction
A complete application consists of the online application with CV or resume, one-page cover letter detailing how qualifications are met, names and contact information for three references, and one of your publications that best reflects your research interests.

Initial review of applications begins September 16, 2016. Position will remain open until a pool of qualified candidates has been collected.

Contact Information to Applicants
Benjamin Sikes

Advertised Salary Range

Application Review Begins

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information and retaliation in the University's programs and activities. Access to information regarding equal opportunity and diversity worksite posters is available at*category=8 or you may contact 785-864-4946 or for alternate access options. Any inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies should be directed to: Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.