Postdoc – Metagenomics

Reference: metagenomics postdoc


Biology, Marine Sciences, Statistics


The work of this role is directly related to the achievement of the above Global Goals.

  • Full Time
  • Lowell, USA
  • 65,000 - 70,000 USD / Year

Website University of Massachusetts Lowell

Position description: The postdoc will work on multiple projects using metagenomics to understand the microbiome’s role in resistance to stony coral tissue loss disease (details about projects below). The postdoc will lead the analyses of shotgun metagenomics and metabarcoding data collected from multiple Caribbean coral species sampled through time. In addition, they will mentor more junior colleagues and contribute to ongoing collaborations within and outside of academia. They will be expected to present at international conferences and write results up for publication in scientific journals. Participation in international fieldwork is possible, but not required.

Position details: The postdoc start dates are flexible, with preferred dates between August and December 2024. Salary will range from $65,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on experience and includes health insurance, retirement, and other benefits. Funding for conference travel and a computer are available.  This is a two-year appointment with the potential for extension, contingent upon satisfactory performance and funding. Applicants must have a PhD at the time of employment.

Desired qualifications: The position is ideally suited to a quantitative researcher with a strong background in metagenomics, bioinformatics, or data science including demonstrated proficiency with one or more of the following: the command line, R, python or other relevant statistical analyses/programs. No experience in marine biology required, though scientific diving is a plus. We are looking for someone who is enthusiastic, creative, collaborative, and has strong oral and written communication abilities. The ability to communicate clearly and work with diverse groups of people with empathy, respect, and humility is critical. New graduates and applicants from minoritized groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application process: Review of applications will begin on August 1, 2024 and will continue on a rolling basis. Interested candidates should email the following materials to with “metagenomics postdoc” in the subject line: 1) a one­ page cover letter that describes your interest in the position and relevant background, 2) a CV, and 3) the names and contact information for three scientists familiar with your work.
Location: The Gignoux-Wolfsohn lab was started two years ago in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. We are a diverse and growing lab group consisting of technicians, graduate students, and undergraduates. The research in the lab is currently focused on understanding marine invertebrate adaptation to climate change and infectious disease. We use a combination of traditional marine ecology and molecular techniques. The Department of Biological Sciences is one of the largest academic units on campus with a multitude of research interests and a growing grad student population. Lowell is located 25 miles northwest of Boston and within one hour of mountains and beaches. The University has strong ties to the community of Lowell, a mid-sized city with a diverse population that is located in the heart of the life sciences supercluster of the Northeast region of Massachusetts, which is home to more than 100 life science companies. Together with its proximity to the Boston/Cambridge biotechnology and biomedical hub, as well as numerous other universities, there are ample opportunities for scientific interaction, exchange, and collaboration. Our university was recently recognized as a Minority Serving Institution for its support of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, and it has also been awarded recognition for its support of first-generation college students.

Projects: Tracking coral microbiomes across a disease outbreak. In collaboration with the Symbioimmunity lab at Texas State, the MarineGEO program at the Smithsonian Institution, and others we have been continuously monitoring and sampling corals at multiple locations in the Caribbean, some which have been affected by stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) and others that remain naive. By tracking and sampling corals through time, we are able to correlate changes in health status with changes in the microbiome, and look for relationships between microbes and resistance to disease. Comparisons across space and coral species allow us to examine the universality of these patterns and compare the microbiomes of naive and affected populations of corals. In addition, with support from an NSF rapid grant, we are looking at the molecular mechanisms of tradeoffs between disease and bleaching susceptibility.

Giving Caribbean corals a future: SCTLD and the use of probiotics in coral restoration projects. Probiotics are a promising alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of SCTLD as they can protect healthy colonies, stop lesion progression, and prevent disease transmission while limiting environmental harm. We are working with the non-profits Ecomares, Perry Institute of Marine Science, and Blue Indigo Foundation as well as the Colombian Government (Coralina) and the Ushijima lab at UNCW on a CORDAP funded project to characterize and compare resistant colonies of four coral species in San Andrés Island, Colombia. Our lab is working to identify bacterial biomarkers contributing to disease resistance using metagenomics. Our results will be used to develop probiotic treatments to both treat the disease and protect against infection. Probiotics will then be incorporated into both asexual- and sexual-based restoration efforts.

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