University: Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Job Category: Postdoctoral Research Associate 

Salary: $50,000/year plus benefits 

Start date: January 2022

Last date to apply: December 18, 2021



The Microbiome Ecology Lab at Middle Tennessee State University is seeking an outstanding postdoctoral research associate for an NSF funded project entitled “Gut-inhabiting fungi influence structure and function of herptile microbiomes through horizontal gene transfer and novel metabolic function”. Understanding the biodiversity and function of microbes that are present in the digestive tracts of reptiles and amphibians is critical for insight into their role in host health. The NSF project will focus on the filamentous fungus Basidiobolus as an important member of reptile and amphibian gut microbiomes. Preliminary evidence suggests that this fungus influences what types of bacteria are present in the digestive tract. Genomic sequencing of the Basidiobolus fungus shows that genes have been transferred to the fungus from the gut bacteria. This transfer of genes between bacteria and fungi results in novel metabolism in the fungus that we propose plays important roles in regulating the reptile/amphibian host’s immune system, iron metabolism, and chemical communication with the gut bacteria. An interdisciplinary scientific approach will occur with Dr. Jason Stajich at University of California Riverside and Drs. Joey Spatafora and Kerry McPhail at Oregon State University to understand the functional roles that specialized metabolites play in microbial interactions between fungi and bacteria in gut microbiomes of animals and also other natural microbiomes. 

The postdoctoral research associate will 1) conduct a controlled live animal experiment to study bacterial-fungal interactions in the Wood Frog gut microbiome and 2) contribute to field work, molecular processing, and statistical analysis of large heterogeneous microbial community ecology datasets. 

The target start date is January 2022. Initial appointment is for one year with the possibility of renewal given satisfactory performance.

Position breakdown: 

90% data collection, analysis and manuscript preparation

10% student training and outreach

To apply: 

Follow instructions at the link ( to complete an online application for the position and attach the following documents:

  • Cover letter describing your relevant experience, research interests, and why you are interested in this position.
  • CV
  • Transcripts
  • PDFs of relevant publications
  • List of three references

Review of the applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For more information, please contact Dr. Donny Walker (


  • PhD in community ecology, microbiology, molecular biology, microbial ecology, wildlife disease or a closely related field.
  • Excellent quantitative skills and substantial experience in R.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills including a demonstrated ability to publish as first author in peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Motivated with an excellent work ethic.

Other desired qualifications:

  • Experience with reptile or amphibian animal husbandry
  • Field work experience 

Contact person: Donny Walker

Contact email: