The hired scientist will be engaged in a large-scale study of the lineage boundaries, mechanisms, rates, and consequences of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in marine bacterioplankton. Bacterial and archaeal HGT enables fast adaptation to environmental changes, as suggested by studies of human pathogens. Therefore HGT may also play an important role in bacterioplankton responses to natural and human-induced perturbations. However, microevolutionary processes are often overlooked in microbial ecology and biogeochemistry studies. The specific mechanisms, rates and consequences of microbial HGT in nature remain largely unknown, to a large degree due to methodological limitations. Unlike earlier, cultivation-based and metagenomic approaches, single cell genomics is well suited for in situ studies of HGT, because it recovers genomes from a randomized subset of unicellular individuals and successfully captures genome regions that have divergent evolutionary histories (e.g. HGT events) or are located on separate DNA molecules (e.g. plasmids). The project is led by Dr. Stepanauskas, utilizes single cell genomics and other cutting-edge technologies, and takes advantage of significant bioinformatics support and computational resources at Bigelow Laboratory and collaborating institutions. Candidates must have a PhD degree or post-degree experience in relevant fields, such as evolution, bioinformatics and microbiology.
Undergraduates in Bigelow Laboratory’s summer REU Program spend ten weeks at the Laboratory conducting independent research with guidance from a scientist mentor. Directed by Senior Research Scientist Dr. David Fields, and funded by the National Science Foundation, the REU Program is designed to give students pursuing degrees in the sciences, mathematics and engineering a laboratory-based research experience with an emphasis on hands-on, state-of-the-art methods and technologies. REU students are immersed in the Bigelow community and participate in seminars, field trips, Laboratory outreach programs, social events, and more. Each student in the program is paired with a Bigelow Laboratory scientist based on mutual research interests. During the ten weeks, students work with their mentors to identify a research question, develop a proposal, conduct their research, and prepare an abstract and poster. At the end of the program, students present their poster and give a talk at a student symposium. Research areas include the deep biosphere (check out C-DEBI researcher Orcutt’s lab page), as well as marine microbiology, ocean biogeochemistry, optical oceanography, remote sensing, bioinformatics, sensory biology and phytoplankton ecology. The 2017 program dates are May 30 through August 4 and will be held at the Laboratory’s East Boothbay campus. Successful applicants receive a stipend, free housing, and funds for travel to and from Bigelow Laboratory. Applications due February 15, 2017.
Two postdoctoral positions are available in Dr. Stepanauskas’ research group. Hired scientists will be engaged in a major effort to improve our understanding of the composition, functional capacity and microevolution of the marine microbiome, by taking advantage of the recent advances in single cell genomics, metagenomics and other cutting-edge technologies. One of the key goals is a quantitative analysis of horizontal gene transfer – a major evolutionary process that is expected to be important in ocean’s response to environmental changes but remains poorly understood. Candidates must have a PhD degree in a relevant field and significant experience in microbiology, evolution and bioinformatics. Excellent written and verbal communication skills and ability to work harmoniously in a collaborative research team are crucial. Anticipated employment duration: 2 years, with potential extension. Bigelow Laboratory’s new campus is located in scenic, coastal Maine with abundant opportunities for outdoor and cultural activities. It is about an hour drive from Portland and a 3-hour drive from Boston. For full consideration, the application should be received by January 15, 2017.