All posts by Jason Stajich

Assistant Professor at UC Riverside

On the importance of conferences

I just returned from the biennial Fungal Genetics Conference held at Asilomar State Park in Pacific Grove, California. It is wonderful, exhausting, invigorating, at times overwhelming firehose of new information. Nearly 900 researchers who work on fungi in some form come to attend.  This meeting grew out of a primary focus on fungal genetics, but has now become a gathering that encompasses epigenetics, genomics,  ecology, population and evolutionary biology, fungal associated chemistry, medical and animal associated mycology, and education and outreach on fungal biology. For me, it has become a special meeting since my first attendance as a graduate student. I’ve made friends, met mentors, got to know the fungal biology stars and rockstars (and more).

On the importance of gathering

I was thinking about the need for conferences and whether it was worth it for ~900 people to get on planes and cars and assemble in one place for a 4-5 day meeting. We read the papers, communicate by emails and video, what is special about a conference? I think there are a few essential things that come out of the meetings.

One is building community. Science is not done in a vacuum. The connections with close friends are strengthened, projects are discussed well past normal bedtimes. The zone that separates competitors and collaborators can be more flexible, or at least the shape of the competition can seem more human than the generic sense of trying to be first to finish and prove a new theory or idea. The mentorship and advice that comes from late night talks at poster sessions and over breakfast are not easily had outside of the conference. I met my postdoc mentor first at this meeting and that helped chart a lot of career.

Another is to hear the latest work. While some people may only cover summaries of published work, there is the exchange of  information all at once that is hard to get in any other way. The nuance of the ideas shared in a presentation can also communicate more effectively than a written publication in some ways, so I enjoy the chance to hear and share the science in this way. Often the Q&A can bring up additional perspectives that add to the discourse.

A concentrated time to think just about the science. The increasingly busy daily routines make it hard to really sit and think about new ideas. While this conference no means has a lot of time for sitting and thinking, there is both the forced occasion to summarize your own work in a short talk and to try and digest the key points of a research project from others. The constant storm of work before the meeting does lead to the inevitable “I’m still working on my talk” that continue before you give you talk … but still this provides a chance to plant a flag on where you are in a project and get perspective on what the rest of the field is doing.

On the importance of place

I’ve only ever attended this conference at Asilomar Conference Grounds. It is a fantastic place for conferences, because of its history, the setting on the dramatic California coastline, the hallowed ground of historic scientific conferences as well as just the general fun and collegiality that being at ‘science camp’ on a grounds that was at one point a YMCA,YWCA summer camp. It is definitely one of the places many who have attended like to call one of their scientific homes. Much like MBL – Woods Hole or Cold Spring Harbor, or Friday Harbor are key places for doing science (and also places for great meetings) I think Asilomar has a clear place for defining the history of Fungal Genetics.

I’ve been to meetings without the sweeping landscape and in sterile hotel conference rooms. That certainly is less exciting, but doesn’t diminish the scientific discussion. But I think there is something different about a place which has the feel of a camp with outside and inside areas to gather in groups to discuss. Some years when the weather is less cooperating and we only can see misty fog and tug up the zippers on our jackets instead of a short sleeve, I still find myself taking a beach walk to catch up on latest projects with colleagues or listening to stories from the seasoned scientists about how a particular technique was perfected on account of seredipity.

Personal connection

The Fungal Genetics and Neurospora Genetics meetings are also a personal waystone for my career and friendships. I gave my first talk at this meeting as a graduate student and have had the opportunity to continue participate and serve on policy committee to help represent the community. I learned I got tenure just before one of the conferences and was able to celebrate with colleagues and friends where it (usually!) feels like success of any is success for the community. Conferences like these have been an important part of my scientific education and a chance to make lifelong friends with shared interests. I see grad school classmates, mentors, former graduate students or postdocs, and meet new people every time.

Future

I wanted to write these thoughts because it is has always been an exhausting but satisfying conference I look forward to. I also know the perpetuity of these events are not guaranteed. It is expensive to run one of these meetings. We are lucky to have the support of the Genetics Society of America for so much of the logistical aspects of organizing the meeting. Nor take for granted that the costs are still approachable for many to attend. Especially as part of my policy committee service, I am more aware of how much it costs to stay, feed, and rent space at a seaside resort in Northern California. Things can change as to who attends these meetings: pricing inevitably goes up, funding available for travel and conferences may be harder to get, or if for some other reason the diverse spirit or culture of the attendees of meetings might change. I can hope we keep infecting new folks with excitement for fungal biology and genetics to keep our field growing and engaged.

Not all change is bad, influx of new people or shifts in the scope of main research topics can invigorate a field with new ideas. Certainly some things will be different by 2019, but I hope many of us find ourselves back to Asilomar for the next installment of the Fungal Genetics conference.

 

Link to the program and a PDF link

Postdoc: Fungal Ecology and Evolution

Postdoctoral Position in Fungal Ecology and Evolution

Contact: Dr. Serita Frey, Department of Natural Resources & the Environment,University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH USA Serita.Frey@unh.edu

(Questions can also be directed to Dr. Anne Pringle, University of Wisconsin-Madison, anne.pringle@wisc.edu)

Our laboratory aims to understand connections between microbial community structure and ecosystem function. We document the impacts of environmental change on the diversity, community composition, and function of the soil microbial community, and test whether shifts in the community subsequently influence ecosystem-scale carbon and nutrient cycling dynamics. A recent focus is on anthropogenic drivers of fungal evolution, in collaboration with Dr. Anne Pringle at the University of Wisconsin.

This two-year position will focus specifically on fungal evolution within global change contexts, with an emphasis on how fungi evolve in response to soil warming and simulated nitrogen deposition. The candidate will have the flexibility to explore questions that fall within this general topic area, while building on previous research conducted in the Frey and Pringle Labs. The candidate is expected to have strong interests and experience in evolution and ecology. Expertise in cultivation-based and genomic analyses as applied to soil fungi is highly desirable. The candidate will be expected to work independently, but also cooperatively with other members of the lab and with the Pringle Laboratory. A Ph.D. degree in evolution, ecology, natural resources, microbiology, or related field, along with relevant research experience is required. The target start date is Oct. 1, 2017, though an earlier start date is possible. Review of applications will begin April 15, 2017 and continue until the position is filled.

To apply please send the following items in a single PDF file to Serita Frey (serita.frey@unh.edu): letter of interest/experience, CV, and the names and contact information of three professional references.

Postdoc, Student: Evolutionary Genomics Plant Pathogens

POSITIONS IN EVOLUTIONARY GENOMICS OF FUNGAL PLANT PATHOGENS
We are seeking talented and motivated postdoc (research associate) and PhD student (research assistant) candidates in the Fungal Genomics and Evolution Lab within the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit of the Biological Research Center, with experience in molecular biology, microbiology, light microscopy or bioinformatics.
The successful candidate(s) will be responsible for studying the evolution of the interaction between pathogenic fungi and host plants in the context of multicellular development using a wide range of high-throughput techniques, including single-cell transcriptomics, comparative genomics and bioinformatics.  Candidates are welcome for both bioinformatics and wet-lab projects (please specify).
The successful Candidate has:
• PhD/Msc or equivalent in biology with specialization in molecular biology, functional genomics, bioinformatics or microbiology
• Solid skills in molecular biology assays, microscopy and/or basic microbiological methods
• Experience or interest in bioinformatics, phylogenetics
• Fluency in English
• Good team player traits
We offer:
• Top notch projects and instrumentation
• International environment
• Competitive salaries (420 000 HUF, equivalent to EUR 3 400 in Paris when adjusted to cost of living in Szeged [numbeo.com])
• Extensive collaborator network
Preferred candidates will have diverse research interest, high motivation, excellent communication skills and willingness to work both independently and as part of a team.  For more details on our research see the lab website: http://group.szbk.u-szeged.hu/sysbiol/nagy-laszlo-lab-index.html
Related Publications:
Kohler A, Kuo A, Nagy LG, et al. (2015) Nature Genetics 47:410-5. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3223
Nagy LG, Ohm R, et al. (2014) Nature Communications 5:4471. DOI:10.1038/ncomms5471
Contact and application
If interested, send a motivation letter along with your CV to Laszlo Nagy (cortinarius2000@gmail.com).

Job: Northern Arizona University – Pathogen and Microbiome Institute

(Even though this already had a closing in Dec, there is still interest in more applications to this position).

One tenure track assistant professor faculty position will be filled in the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, with tenure assignment to an academic department relevant to the faculty member’s expertise (e.g., Department of Biological Sciences, School of Informatics and Computer Science and Cyber Systems) beginning August 21, 2017.

Job Description

Individuals are invited to apply for an assistant professor faculty position in the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University. We are seeking individuals with research interests that complement existing strengths in basic or translational pathogen and microbiome research, which may include bioinformatics, genomics, immunology, molecular epidemiology, microbiology, population genetics, disease ecology, phylogeography, clinical and environmental microbiology expertise. This is a research intensive position with competitive teaching loads in subject areas that will be dictated by the applicant’s expertise. Evidence of grant potential will be required.

The successful candidates will be expected to: (1) develop and/or transfer an intensive research program that is supported by awards from extramural agencies; (2) contribute to the university graduate training program with M.S. and Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral fellows; and (3) perform service for the department, university, and profession.

Job: Endowed Professorship in Medical Mycology – Univ Georgia

The Microbiology Department at the University of Georgia invites applications for a Professorship in Medical Mycology at the rank of associate or full professor. On behalf of the search committee, I request your assistance in identifying outstanding candidates seeking to grow their research program. The Microbiology Department is home to an interactive and collaborative faculty with interests in many aspects of microbiology, including fungal biology and infectious disease (http://mib.uga.edu/). UGA is also home to a large, interdisciplinary fungal biology research group (http://fungi.uga.edu/). Additional resources and opportunities for collaboration are available through a partnership between UGA and the medical school at Augusta University. The scientific environment at UGA, the generous start-up package, and endowed funds to support research personnel and expenditures, make this an exciting opportunity. Individuals with an excellent record of scholarship and funding consistent with appointment at the rank of associate or early full professor are encouraged to apply online (http://facultyjobs.uga.edu/postings/1490).

Postdoc: P. destructans and White Nose Syndrome – Univ Wisconsin-Madison

Postdoc Microbiologist/Molecular Biologist: Wisconsin

Agency University of Wisconsin, Department of Pathobiological Sciences
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Job Category Post Doctoral Appointments
Salary $47,476.00 (annual salary)
Last Date to Apply 12/31/2016

Description

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCH POSITION studying the mechanisms of resistance to white-nose syndrome (WNS), an emerging disease of bats caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Two years of funding is available through the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center located in Madison, WI. The primary objective of this project is to determine the biotic and abiotic properties of soil that reduce the abundance of infectious P. destructans in the environment. The specific objectives pertaining to WNS are to: 1) identify cave soils that suppress P. destructans, 2) characterize microbial communities and soil properties that may suppress P. destructans in the environment, and 3) investigate the potential to manipulate soils so that they are less conducive for the survival of P. destructans. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center conducts diagnostic work and research on numerous aspects of WNS and other wildlife diseases, and the selected candidate may have opportunities to work on additional projects as time and funding permit. 

Qualifications

Qualified applicants should have a recent (last 1-3 years) Ph.D. with an emphasis in microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, or a similar discipline. Applicants must have 1) a record of research and publications, 2) experience with next-generation sequencing, metagenomics, and microbial community analyses, 3) proficiency with real-time PCR, 4) ability to work independently and solve project objectives with limited assistance, 5) good written and oral communication skills, 6) ability to work with other scientists, and 7) interest in disease ecology. Experience with culturing bacteria and fungi from environmental samples and/or analysis of soil properties is preferred but not required. Interested applicants should send a cover letter outlining experience, research interests, and relevant coursework; a curriculum vitae; and contact information for three references to Dr. Jeffrey Lorch, US Geological Survey – National Wildlife Health Center at jlorch@usgs.gov (please cc applications to Dr. Tony Goldberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison at tony.goldberg@wisc.edu). Applicants should apply by December 31, 2016 to ensure consideration; however, applications will be accepted until position is filled.

Contact Person Jeffrey Lorch

Contact eMail jlorch@usgs.gov

Job: Environmental Microbiology – UC Riverside

UC Riverside faculty position in Environmental Microbiology part of Hiring Cluster BREATHE: Environ./Medical Microbiology, Environ./Medical History, Pulmonary Physiology, Pulmonary/Mucosal Immunol

Job #JPF00639 School of Medicine – Biomedical Sciences

Environmental Microbiology – experience working in natural systems, and in soil and/or air microbial ecology. A range of expertise between bacterial, archaeal, and fungal organisms, is preferred, including aeromicrobiology, and organisms with airborne spores (e.g., Coccidioides, Aspergilli, Pseudomonas, Clostridium, etc.). In addition, the environmental microbiologist should have experience working with plant-microbe interactions relevant to invasive plants.

https://aprecruit.ucr.edu/apply/JPF00639

Note the Deadline for application is being moved to January 15, 2017.

DESCRIPTION

The University of California at Riverside (UCR) is implementing a major expansion of our faculty and investing in state-of-the-art research facilities to support their work. This expansion will build critical mass in 34 vital and emerging fields of scholarship, foster truly cross-disciplinary work, and further diversify the faculty at one of America’s most diverse research universities. We encourage applications from scholars committed to excellence and seeking to help define the research university for the next generation. For more information about our hiring initiative or to submit an application, please visit clusterhiring.ucr.edu or academicpersonnel.ucr.edu.

This announcement aims to fill up to five positions to help establish and build the BREATHE research group (Bridging Regional Ecology and Aerosolized Toxins to understand Health Effects) in interdisciplinary areas bringing together research in air quality, pulmonary biology and health, and public policy. Growth in research areas associated with this cluster will complement the impending move of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to the UCR campus. The placement of each successful candidate may be in departments in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) such as Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Environmental Sciences, and Biology; the School of Medicine (SOM) including the Division of Biomedical Sciences and Division of Clinical Sciences; the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) such as Chemical and Environmental Engineering; the School of Public Policy; and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), such as History, depending on the preferences of the candidate and interested host departments. Candidates are expected to develop an internationally recognized and externally funded research program in one or more areas related to air quality, lung function and health, and policy, as well as demonstrate an interest in building and working with interdisciplinary research teams. All candidates must have a PhD, MD, or MD/PhD in a relevant field and be strongly committed to both undergraduate and graduate teaching. Preference will be given to applicants whose research interests complement those of existing faculty in the School of Medicine, College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), School of Public Policy, and the Center for Conservation Biology, and strengthen our initiative to develop an extramurally funded research center in air quality, health, and policy. Successful candidates must also have clear potential or demonstrated ability to work successfully with and benefit a diverse student body.

The next four positions to be filled in the BREATHE cluster will be in the areas of (1) Environmental Microbiology, (2) Environmental or Medical History, (3) Mammalian Pulmonary physiology, and (4) Pulmonary or mucosal immunology at the Assistant Professor level. The successful candidates will have the ability to teach coursework and have expertise in the relevant areas. In addition, they will play a central role in helping assemble the cohort of affiliated researchers across the campus. This announcement solicits applications for these positions; applicants must indicate which of the four positions they are applying to:

  1. Environmental Microbiology – experience working in natural systems, and in soil and/or air microbial ecology. A range of expertise between bacterial, archaeal, and fungal organisms, is preferred, including aeromicrobiology, and organisms with airborne spores (e.g., Coccidioides, Aspergilli, Pseudomonas, Clostridium, etc.). In addition, the environmental microbiologist should have experience working with plant-microbe interactions relevant to invasive plants.
  2. Environmental or Medical History – history of science, medicine, and/or the environment, with preference for individuals interested in the connections among environment and health, and public policy, employing a mix of disciplinary approaches from such fields as environmental history, history of medicine, history of science, medical geography or historical geography.
  3. Mammalian pulmonary physiology – research focus can be on, but is not limited to, lung physiology, including comparative, ecological or evolutionary approaches, exercise physiology, as well as clinical topics such as infectious lung diseases, lung microbiome, chronic lung disease, asthma, or related diseases.
  4. Pulmonary or mucosal immunology – pulmonary inflammation or immunity, lung microbiome, chronic lung disease, asthma, or related diseases, with priority on research that also assesses the impact of inhaled particulates and pollutants, as well as other environmental, cultural or related factors.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer with a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

UCR is a world-class research university with an exceptionally diverse undergraduate student body. Its mission is explicitly linked to providing routes to educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. A commitment to this mission is a preferred qualification.

Advancement through the faculty ranks at the University of California is through a series of structured, merit-based evaluations, occurring every 2-3 years, each of which includes substantial peer input.

To apply: Please send a full curriculum vitae, indication of the specific position applied for, a description of proposed research, teaching philosophy and letters from three professional references. A statement addressing potential contribution to academic diversity must be included. Application materials for the Assistant Professor position should be submitted through http://aprecruit.ucr.edu/apply/JP00639. Applications will be reviewed beginning November 14, 2016. Positions will remain open until filled. Anticipated start date is July 1, 2017. Salary is commensurate with education and experience.

Job: Applied Molecular Biology of Plant Disease Resistance – Univ Georgia

The Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia (UGA) seeks to fill a faculty position in Applied Molecular Biology of Plant Disease Resistance with an August 2017 start date. This position is open at the Assistant or Associate Professor rank. The successful candidate is expected to develop a vigorous, innovative, internationally recognized, and competitively funded program with the priority to understand and develop disease resistance in non-model plants that are economically important in the southeastern United States.

UGA, a Land/Sea Grant institution located 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, is ranked 18th among public universities in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of America’s Best Colleges. The university offers a vibrant research environment with potential collaborations with faculty across the plant sciences (http://plantcenter.uga.edu) as well as in crop genetics (http://www.plantbreeding.uga.edu), and bioinformatics (http://iob.uga.edu). Athens, GA, is consistently ranked highly for its quality of life and culture (https://www.visitathensga.com).

 

See PDF for more information

Job: Assistant Professor, Biochemical Interactome – NC State University

The Center for Integrated Fungal Research invites applications for a 9-month tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level in the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University. This faculty position is located on the main campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has a 80% research and 20% academic appointment. The selected individual will have a background in biology, or related field, with expertise in biochemistry, chemometrics, metabolic engineering, or phytochemistry. This individual is expected to develop an innovative research program to characterize and profile important groups of secreted biological metabolites to better understand the physical biochemical interactome, including their roles in human health, crop productivity and the environment. These exo- metabolomes are secreted in response to interactions with their abiotic and biotic environment by insects, microorganisms and plants and include carbohydrates, extracellular enzymes, lipids, nucleic acids, organic acids, peptides, secondary metabolites, and other bioactive molecules. Their functions range from protecting bacteria and fungi against parasitism and predation, to regulating plant and microbial growth and developmental stress responses, to forming networks of inter-kingdom communication and creating environmental and food-related toxicity. This interdisciplinary position will integrate research on the chemical interactome to promote quantitative understanding of the relative contribution and impact of the interactome to the beneficial and deleterious activities of these compounds on plant-microbe-insect associations. Significant opportunities exist for collaborations with university faculty and members of several research centers, including the Center for Integrated Fungal Research (CIFR), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research. In addition, there are resources and opportunities for interactions with researchers at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC. The incumbent is expected to generate extramural funding to help support their research program following start-up resources and is expected to mentor graduate students and participate in the academic programs of the department.

Minimum qualifications include a PhD in a field of study directly related to the position. NC State University is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their experience, research, teaching and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community. In addition to excellence in research and academics, the incumbent is expected to have demonstrable skills in verbal and written communication, interpersonal relations, and procurement of extramural funding. The position includes a competitive and comprehensive compensation and start-up package. Review of applications will proceed after January 13, 2017, until the position is filled. For further information, contact the Director of the Center for Integrated Fungal Research, Dr. Ignazio Carbone (ignazio_carbone@ncsu.edu). For a complete job description and details for submission of applications, please reference https://jobs.ncsu.edu/postings/75575.

NC State is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. In addition, NC State University welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation or genetic information. We welcome the opportunity to work with candidates to identify suitable employment opportunities for spouses or partners. Inclusiveness and diversity are integral to NC State’s commitment to excellence in research, engagement and education. The successful candidate will be expected to foster an environment that is welcoming of all groups.

 

Job: Computational and Systems Biology – Dartmouth University

Faculty Position in Microbial Computational and Systems Biology
The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Department of Microbiology & Immunology seek applicants for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the area of Computational and Systems Biology in microbial organisms.
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