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Postdoctoral Scholar-Sierra Nevada Research Institute

Recruitment Period

Open October 29th, 2018 through November 28th, 2018


The University of California, Merced, is the newest of the University of California system’s 10 campuses and the first American research university built in the 21st century. With more than 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students, UC Merced offers an environment that combines a commitment to diversity, inclusion, collaboration and professional development. With bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, strong research and academic partnerships, and community involvement, the UC Merced campus is continually evolving and requires talented, knowledgeable and dynamic educators, researchers, management and staff.

Ranked among the best public universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, UC Merced is uniquely equipped to provide educational opportunities to highly qualified students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports the economic development of Merced and the region.

In Fall 2016, UC Merced broke ground on a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education. The Merced 2020 Project will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus by 2020, enhancing academic distinction, student success and research excellence. In 2018, UC Merced opened the Downtown Campus Center, a $33 million, three-story administrative building in the heart of Merced.

The Frank lab is recruiting an exceptional and highly motivated postdoctoral scholar to work on diversity and function of the conifer foliage microbiome.

The successful candidate will contribute to on-going research that seeks to understand the diversity, function, and transmission routes of the microbiome associated with foliage of western high elevation conifers.

The specific research focus involves characterizing the taxa responsible for nitrogen fixation in conifer foliage. Old-growth conifer forest productivity is largely limited by nitrogen (N), and forest trees must use a diverse combination of sources and pathways to meet their N demand. Recent findings suggest that both evergreen and deciduous trees have the potential to directly access atmospheric N via N2-fixing bacteria in the foliage. These findings are important to our understanding of how plants in N-limited ecosystems meet their N demand, and to balancing ecosystem N budgets. Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene has shown that the conifer microbiome is largely consistent across species and geographic sites, with several potential N2-fixing uncultured taxa dominating the community.

The successful candidate will use a combination of enrichment of bacterial cells and DNA; metagenomics and single cell genome (SAG) sequencing; amplification of nitrogenase (nif) genes using PNA PCR blockers to exclude conifer nif homologs; designing and using nif primers for specific groups of bacteria; and bioinformatics analysis of metagenomes and SAGs. Metagenome- and SAG sequencing is performed in collaboration with Tanya Woyke’s group at Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, CA. There are also opportunities for collaborating with Jennifer Pett-Ridge’s group at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for fluorescence in situ hybridization. The project involves sampling lodgepole pine in nearby Yosemite National Park.

Applicants must have a Ph.D., completed or completion imminent, in microbiology, evolution, genomics, bioinformatics, or related fields. Programming and bioinformatics experience is desirable.

Interested applicants are required to submit 1) a cover letter 2) curriculum vitae and 3) a list of three to five agreed references with contact information including mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address submitted through AP Recruit during the application process.

This position begins in January and is funded for 12 months contingent on funding agency approval, with the possibility of extension for a total of 2 years, also contingent on funding. Review of applications will begin immediately with a closing date of November 28, 2018; however, the position is open until filled. Salary is based on the University of California Academic Salary Scales.

Prospective applicants should contact Carolin Frank at cfrank3@ucmcerced to discuss the project.

UC Merced is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer with a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of diversity among its faculty, staff, and students.

Job location

Merced, CA


Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter

  • Statement of Research

Reference requirements
  • 3-5 required (contact information only)

How to apply

  1. Create an ApplicantID
  2. Provide required information and documents
  3. If any, provide required reference information
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