ENAC – PhD position investigating environmental adaptation of microbial communities in Alpine permafrost

Updated: 26 days ago

Fully funded, 4-year PhD Position

The laboratory for Microbiome Adaptation in the Changing Environment (MACE) is seeking PhD student to lead a project on environmental adaptation of Alpine permafrost microbial communities.

The successful candidate will join the Alpine and Polar Environmental Research Centre (ALPOLE) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. The ALPOLE research center is based in Sion, Switzerland with a mission to address key challenges related to environmental change in Alpine and Polar regions undergoing rapid and unprecedented transformations.

Permafrost landscapes are rapidly transforming due to anthropogenic climate change. Climate warming disproportionately impacting cryosphere habitats results in an increased rate of permafrost degradation and further releases of greenhouse gases (GHGs) via microbial decomposition of ancient carbon stores. The response of cryophilic microorganisms to warming in Polar and Alpine regions will shape future GHG emissions.

The PhD project will focus on the environmental adaptation strategies of cryospheric microbial communities in response to climate warming and in turn gauge the downstream effects these communities have on GHG emissions and ecosystem functions in alpine permafrost.

To anticipate the full potential of the microbial organisms to adapt to climate change the project will integrate understanding of both community population level changes and individual molecular scale adaptation strategies that allow organisms to thrive in rapidly changing and threatened permafrost environments. This will be achieved through integration of in situ field measurements, culturing, multi-omics, and computational methods.

Furthermore, the overall project will aim to integrate multiple layers of data including biogeochemical measurements, Oxford nanopore metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics/metaproteomics in a united analysis.

Main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Carry out research activities related alpine permafrost microbiome
  • Participate in experimental design and execution
  • Participate in field work and sample collection
  • Analysis and interpretation of experimental results
  • Write scientific articles for publication in peer-reveiwed journals
  • Completion of classes as requirements by the doctoral school
  • Participate in teaching assistance
  • Presenting results at international conferences

We are looking for candidate with:

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (environmental science, microbiology, molecular microbiology, genomics, ecology, bioinformatics, etc)
  • A genuine interest in the project
  • Good communication skills (written and oral)
  • Scientific curiosity, organisational skills, rigor
  • Familiarity with bioinformatic analyses (would be an asset) or willingness to learn
  • Experience in molecular biology/microbiology techniques (would be an asset) or willingness to learn
  • Field experience or willingness to participate/plan field expeditions

We offer:

  • An opportunity to develop a scientific career in environmental microbiology
  • A chance to learn emerging techniques in microbiome science
  • Opportunities to attend and present research at international conferences
  • Competitive stipend

Start date: 2022/early 2023 (exact start date is negotiable)

Work rate: 100%

Duration: 1-year fixed-term contract that is renewable for 4 years according to EPFL rules

To apply: Please send the following documents (preferably as a single pdf file) to ianina.altshuler@epfl.ch

  • A brief letter of motivation / interest in the project
  • Detailed CV- including contact information for 2-3 references
  • Grades for master and bachelor studies

For additional information, please contact Dr. Ianina Altshuler by e-mail via ianina.altshuler@epfl.ch

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