Careers at UMass Amherst

Post Doctoral Research Associate - Goodell Lab

Apply now Job no: 504305
Work type: Post Doc (Amherst Only)
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Microbiology
Union: Post Doc
Categories: Postdoctoral Research Associate

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.


Job Summary

Applications are invited for a 2-year Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Microbiology Department at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The focus of the post-doc’s research will be to study iron-binding metabolites produced by bacterial symbionts found in the gills of marine mollusks known commonly as shipworms. The project requires background in, and interest in exploring, a unique type of catalytic chemistry that these compounds mediate, and that we hypothesize is responsible in-part for the ability of shipworms to consume and digest large amounts of woody biomass in the world’s oceans. The post-doc will be responsible for probing the chemistry of the host-symbiont relationship, but also looking at potential antibiotic properties of the metabolites. Confocal microscopy and analytical techniques such as DIOS-MS will be used to look at host-symbiont spatial relationships. The successful applicant would also be expected to explore the chemistry of how woody biomass is digested by the shipworms and link that back to both enzymatic and non-enzymatic chemistries that are active in the shipworm gut. Independent work in the lab is expected, and publication and grant preparation in collaboration with the PI of the Goodell Lab and also collaborators at the University of Portsmouth in the UK is expected.


Essential Functions

  • Determine how low molecular-weight (LMW) metabolites from shipworm gill symbionts generate a non-enzymatic system for lignocellulose deconstruction; B) Map the location of LMW metabolites in the gill and digestive system; and C) Assess whether the LMW compounds display antibiotic properties that suppress competing microbes.
  • Examine shipworm mollusk gut compartmentalization for pH environments that may promote symbiont-mediated iron reduction, redox-cycling and the generation of hydroxyl radicals associated with oxidative catalytic reactions; B) Assess the spatial arrangement and compartmentalization of shipworm anatomy; C) Identify and map the 3D structure of proposed channels linking gill endosymbionts with the shipworm digestive tract.
  • Compare and analyzing the digestive products and waste material from shipworms grown on isotopically-labelled wood.


Other Functions

  • Work collaboratively and effectively to promote teamwork, diversity, equality and inclusiveness. 
  • Work in partnership with colleagues within the CNS community and across the campus to support the Dean’s strategic priorities.
  • Perform other duties as assigned in support of the mission and goals of the College of Natural Sciences.


Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • PhD in Microbiology, Marine Biology, Biochemistry or other appropriate related discipline. Chemistry and Biology doctorates are also acceptable with appropriate biochemical and microbiology background.
  • Ability to maintain microbial cultures and experience with sterile technique
  • Graduate Training/Experience in inorganic and catalytic chemistry

Preferred Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Experience with invertebrate animals, particularly marine invertebrates
  • Organometallic chemistry background
  • Antimicrobial properties of compound analysis
  • Analytical chemistry techniques experience (HPLC, Spectroscopy, NMR/EPR)
  • Experience with the isolation of metabolites from microorganisms
  • Experience with Confocal, Electron Microscopy, and spatial imaging techniques
  • Training in some of these areas will be available for the appointee if background/experience in other preferred qualification areas are satisfied.


Physical Demands/Working Conditions

In addition to conducting standard laboratory analyses, the successful applicant will be required to collect field samples and be able to navigate rough terrain for marine shoreline/dock sampling. The successful applicant will also be required to have fine dexterity for manipulation of micro-anatomical laboratory tools and dissection of mollusks.


Additional Details

This is a benefited, 2-year, full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate position. Initial appointment is for one year with reappointment contingent upon job performance.

Review of applications will begin on January 27, 2020 with an expected start date for the position of March 1, 2020.


Work Schedule

Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm. The position also will require periodic weekend and evening work and travel to meetings.


Special Instructions to Applicants

Candidates should provide a CV, cover letter and contact information for three references.

As part of a commitment to their own multicultural community, CNS seeks an individual with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and one who will understand and embrace university initiatives and aspirations (


UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

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