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Postdoctoral Training Opportunity - Geobiology

A postdoctoral training position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Magdalena Osburn at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Applications are invited for a full-time, 2-3 year position in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Applicants should have a doctoral degree in Biological or Geological Sciences, Biogeochemistry, or a related field, and a record of scientific research publications in scholarly journals.

Broadly, the Osburn lab is interested in the interplay of microbial and geological processes in terrestrial shallow and deep subsurface environments. They use a variety of approaches to study these systems including long-term geochemical monitoring, DNA sequencing, analysis of lipid biomarkers, isotope geochemistry, and cultivation. An ongoing Packard Foundation funded project aims to cultivate previously uncultivated members of the ‘microbial dark matter.’ These groups constitute the vast majority of microbial taxa but are known only as DNA sequences. The primary focus of this position will be to combine geochemical measurements and new genomic information with new cultivation technology to target these unusual groups.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Qualified candidates will have a broad understanding of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and microbial metabolisms.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have expertise in microbial cultivation, genomics, and/or microscopy.
  • The chosen candidate will be expected to design and carry out targeted culturing experiments using high throughput cultivation technology, cell sorting, microscopy techniques, and/or continuous flow bioreactor operation.
  • Initiative, persistence, and experience cultivating anaerobic microbes will be essential characteristics and skills for the successful candidate.

Skills, Abilities, and Competencies 

  • Prior experience in sterile technique and anaerobic microbial culturing techniques (required)
  • Prior experience with microbial ecology and taxonomy (required)
  • Must be able to communicate effectively and respond to constructive feedback (required)
  • Expertise or experience with cell sorting and flow cytometry or laser cell manipulation techniques (desired)
  • Microscopy experience such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) (desired)
  • Experience with low biomass, slow growing, or recalcitrant samples (desired)

Interested individuals should send a statement of research interests, a CV, and the names of three references to Prof. Osburn via email

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.