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Postdoctoral Scholar / Emerson Lab

We are no longer accepting applications for this recruitment


The Emerson Lab at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher to lead a new project in soil, rhizosphere, and/or plant viral ecology using omic approaches, particularly metagenomics and/or metatranscriptomics. Studies in aqueous systems have shown that viruses are abundant members of microbial communities with significant impacts on local and global microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. While similar viral impacts on soil and plant-associated ecosystems are expected, approaches for studying viral community ecology and virus-host dynamics in these systems have only recently emerged. We are looking for a postdoc, preferably with a strong bioinformatics background, to dive into this exciting new field.

The research project(s) will be bioinformatics-focused but will also include field and laboratory components, and there is funding available for the postdoc to develop his/her own research interests in collaboration with the PI. The postdoc’s primary project(s) can be tied to a variety of soil and plant types, including natural and agricultural soils and crops, field-scale experimental sites, and greenhouses in and near Davis, CA. Example projects could include:

  • Comparative virus-microbe (and/or plant) ecology in soils associated with healthy and diseased crops and in treated vs. untreated soils; through collaborative efforts, a variety of existing treatment experiments are available for sample collection, including soil amendments and irrigation treatments for testing microbial community responses to biocontrol agents, organic farming practices, biochar, and changing environmental conditions; crops could include walnut, tomato, grape, soybean, and others
  • RNA virus discovery and RNA viral community comparisons across soil and plant types
  • Assessing the relative proportions and ecological implications of lytic vs. lysogenic (temperate) viral lifestyles in a variety of soils.

Candidates are welcome to propose a different project related to soil and/or plant viral ecology, and no preference will be given to candidates who express an interest in an example project vs. propose a new one. Candidates will be evaluated based on how well their background prepares them for the proposed project(s) and how well the project(s) align with our lab’s research interests.
The Postdoctoral Researcher will be expected to publish results in peer-reviewed journals and present at scientific meetings. Opportunities for writing grants, mentoring undergraduates and other personnel, giving occasional guest lectures in university classrooms, and other career development opportunities will be available.

The Postdoctoral Researcher will join a vibrant research community in microbiology, bioinformatics, ecology, plant pathology, soil science, and sustainable agriculture at UC Davis. Resources and collaborative opportunities at UC Davis include: the Genome Center and its bioinformatics core, the newly launched Microbiome Initiative, and the multi-campus Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, including the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

One-year appointment with the possibility of extension to two years contingent upon mutual agreement and satisfactory performance. Extension beyond two years contingent upon mutual agreement, satisfactory performance, and continued funding.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:

Job location

Davis, CA


Document requirements
  • Cover Letter - In the cover letter, please: 1) indicate which example project(s) from this advertisement interest you and why, or briefly describe a related project that you would like to develop, & 2) briefly highlight your bioinformatics, field, and/or lab experience.

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

  • 2-3 Representative Publications - Representative publications can include conference abstracts or manuscripts in preparation for ongoing work.

Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)