Postdoc position at Middle Tennessee State University (Walker Lab)

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

Website: https://walkerlabmtsu.weebly.com/

Description:

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 (https://careers.mtsu.edu/en-us/job/495502/biology-postdoctoral-research-assistant) 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 (Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu)

Qualifications:

  • 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: Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu

PhD position at Middle Tennesee State University (Walker Lab)

University: Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Job Category: Graduate Research Assistantship (PhD)

Salary: $30,000/year plus tuition remission

Start date: January 18, 2022

Last date to apply: December 18, 2021

Website: https://walkerlabmtsu.weebly.com/

Description:

The Microbiome Ecology Lab at Middle Tennessee State University is seeking an outstanding PhD student beginning January 2022 in the Molecular Biosciences program. Research expertise in the Microbiome Ecology Lab is in the areas of molecular evolution and molecular ecology of microorganisms with an emphasis on pathogenic fungi of animals. We use a variety of molecular and microbiological techniques to understand host-microbiome-pathogen associations and the synergistic to antagonistic interactions within these systems. Emerging infectious fungal pathogens are threatening wildlife species world-wide, therefore, we are interested in answering questions that inform management of species of greatest conservation need in the southeastern US. 

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 PhD student’s 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 be used 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 PhD student will have the opportunity to participate in field and outreach activities with zoos and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Interdisciplinary training of the PhD student will occur with Dr. Jason Stajich at University of California, Riverside and Drs. Joey Spatafora and Kerry McPhail at Oregon State University.  

To apply: Submit a single pdf that includes a cover letter summarizing your qualifications and interest in the position, followed by CV, unofficial transcripts and GRE scores (if available), and contact information for three references to Dr. Donny Walker (Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu).

Qualifications:

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

Contact person: Donny Walker

Contact email: Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu

Faculty Position in Bacteriology

The Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking candidates whose research addresses important questions at the forefront of any area of microbiology in any domain of life. The candidate should place an emphasis on molecular mechanisms underlying their area of research. The full job listing for this tenure track Assistant Professor position can be found here: https://jobs.hr.wisc.edu PVL: 235869

The UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Bacteriology are committed to maintaining and growing a culture that embraces diversity, inclusion, and equity, believing that these values are foundational elements of our excellence and fundamental components of a positive and enriching learning and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff.

Deadline to Apply Oct 15 2021

Nicole Colón-Carrión

Nicole Colón-Carrión grew up in Puerto Rico and is currently doing research at the University of Arizona with Dr. Elizabeth Arnold.

Tell us about your project!

In my dissertation research I seek to understand how climate changes impact plant-fungal associations, with a focus on two main environments: wild tropical forests and agricultural systems. Specifically, my work focuses on (1) understanding how hurricane disturbances affect the diversity and composition of fungal symbionts associated with roots and leaves of tropical forest trees; (2) exploring how fungal symbionts can protect cultivated plants against disease under a rapidly warming climate; and (3) assessing the needs and knowledge of farmers in Puerto Rico regarding the control and management of pests and pathogens in the field in order to customize educational lesson plan that best fit their needs.

Which awards would you like to brag about?

I was awarded with the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP), the Dr. Leathers Graduate Student Scholarship from the Arizona Mushroom Society, and with the National Geographic Early Career Award were I received the title of National Geographic Explorer. Currently, I was awarded with the MSA Interchange Ambassador Award to support my two projects, “Micología en Ruedas” and “LatinX mycleium”.

What are your career goals/plans for after you’re done your current position?

My career goal is to return to Puerto Rico as an extension specialist focused on the use development microbe-microbe interactomes into biocontrol strategies to reduce pathogenicity and the use of chemical agents in the landscape. I also aim to continue developing education programs and material that increase science exposure to underrepresented communities.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

If microscopic, Aspergillus niger. It was the first fungus I isolated from rice as an undergraduate researcher. If macroscopic, the basket stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber). I just love it s structure and bright color.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

The diversity of them and the significant roles they plan in ecosystem functioning. Also, I love their structures and colors.

Who is your mycology role model?

I am going to go with two Puerto Rican mycologist for this one. The first is Dr. Sharon Cantrell. Dr. Cantrell became the first Puerto Rican woman to be appointed as president of the Mycological Society of America and have done amazing work in elucidating the diversity of fungi within the tropical forest of Puerto Rico. The second is Dr. Chad Lozada. Dr. Lozada introduced me to the wonderful world of fungi as my research mentor at the University of Puerto Rico Cayey Campus. His passion and mentorship motivated me pursue a graduate degree in the field in order to later training the next generation of Puerto Rican mycologist.

Any great stories from field work?

Always wear bug spray if you are sampling in the tropics!

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

I love to dance (salsa particularly), spent time in the beach, and read.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Along with my Ph.D., I am currently pursuing a certificate in College Teaching from the UA. This certificate provided me with a new appreciation for educational research. The knowledge obtained though this certificate and the eagerness to help underrepresented communities are the reasons I emerge myself in curriculum and educational program development. Something that I wish to continue as a Post-doctoral researcher. If you know of fellowships and grants that support this kind of work, send them my way (ncoloncarrion@email.arizona.edu). Also, for updates and cool pictures about “Micología en Ruedas” and “LatinX mycleium” stay tune to @ncoloncarrion (Twitter) and @thePuertoRicanmycologist (IG).

Research Biologist/Microbiologist/Plant pathologist with the USDA

The USDA, ARS, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, is seeking a Research Biologist/Microbiologist/Plant Pathologist. The incumbent serves as a Researcher in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit. As a Researcher, the incumbent will conduct research, develop epidemiological models to predict severity of mycotoxin contamination in maize; and determine how future climate predictions might impact the distribution and diversity of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxin contamination in different geographic regions of the U.S. The incumbent will publish peer reviewed journal articles focused on
the epidemiology, ecology and management of ear rot and mycotoxin contamination of maize. The goal of the research is to develop novel approaches to reduce mycotoxin contamination in maize in response to
stakeholder needs.

U.S. Citizenship is required. Applications must be received by the closing date of June 3, 2021.

USDA/ARS is an equal opportunity employer and provider

From https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/600219900

Location: Peoria, IL

Summary: The incumbent serves as a Research Biologist/ Microbiologist/Plant Pathologist in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois. MPM scientists conduct interdisciplinary research in chemistry, microbiology, genetics, and plant biology to produce information and technologies needed to enhance food safety and crop production in the U.S. and around the world.

Responsibilities:

  • Conducts research focused on the epidemiology, ecology and management of ear rot and mycotoxin contamination of maize.
  • Determines how environmental variables, production practices, and diversity of mycotoxigenic fungi affect disease severity and mycotoxin contamination.
  • Develop epidemiological models to predict severity of mycotoxin contamination in maize.
  • Collaborates with other ARS, university, and private sector scientists to build a multi-disciplinary team necessary for this research.
  • Analyzes, interprets, and disseminates the findings in the form of reports, presentations, and publications in scientific journals.

For further information and complete application instructions, search for announcement

ARS-D21MWA-11098328-JML at https://www.usajobs.gov/
Direct Link: USAJOBS – Job Announcement

Videos of the Student and Postdoc Colloquium

Hello! This page has the videos of recorded MSA Student and Postdoc Colloquium!

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did and feel free to stop by our YouTube channel and subscribe for more!

Daisy Hernandez talks about Ganoderma spp. in California and Robert Blundell talks about the Discovery, identification and implementation of potential biological control agents for pruning wound protection against grapevine trunk diseases. January 2021
Jacob Steenwyck talks about When two become one: The hybrid origin of a filamentous fungal pathogen and Abigail Labella talks about Harnessing synonymous codon usage for reverse ecology in budding yeasts. February 2021
Sebastian Fajardo talks about the Impacts of Phytophthora pathogens on post-fire regeneration and restoration in Angeles National Forest and Lisa Rosenthal talks about how the Direction and drivers of the diversity-disease relationship are distinct across hierarchical levels. March 2021
Dr. Patricia Kaishian, co-founder of the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists, talks about Mycology as a Queer Discipline! 106th Remembrance Day of the Armenian Genocide, April 24th, 21.

Katherine Drotos talks about How an estimate of lichen ecosystem became “fact” and Kyle Gervers talk about how Crown closure affects endophytic leaf mycobiome compositional dynamics over time in Pseudotsuga menzieii var menziesii. June 2021

International Congress of Armenian Mycologists

International Congress of Armenian Mycologists

ICAM is the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists! They are currently based at: Purdue University, Case Western Reserve University,  and University of California, Riverside

Let us know a little bit of your organization!

This group was founded by: Claudia Bashian-Victoroff, Arik Joukhajian, Patricia Kaishian, Tania Kurbessoian

The International Congress of Armenian Mycologists (ICAM) is a network of research scientists of Armenian ethnicity. Our diverse research backgrounds on various aspects of fungal biology are allied in the mission of biological, ecological, and social welfare of all Armenian life forms. As an organization we strive to conduct critical scientific research on the understudied fungal kingdom in the both ancient yet contemporary civilization of Armenia.

What are the goals of ICAM?

Drawing from Armenia’s strong tradition of land stewardship and intimacy with nonhuman life forms, the goal of ICAM is to leverage our passions and training as scientists to simultaneously advance mycological science and Armenian sovereignty. We seek to build science capacity in Armenia by: collaborating with the nation’s already successful scientists through shared grants, co-authorship, and resource allocation; by providing financed scientific mentorship to Armenian youth; and by gathering biological data that can be used in the protection of land and life. Because fungi are understudied worldwide, and Armenia has been home to a low proportion of that research, we aim to describe new species and accrue data for answering critical ecological and evolutionary questions. Seating such research in Armenia will serve to bolster Armenia’s overall impact and contribution to science.

What inspires and motivates ICAM?

Armenia is a predominantly indigenous nation in West Asia whose vibrancy and beauty has withstood the terrors of colonization and genocide for hundreds of years. As Armenians are locked in a struggle of liberation and self-determination against such forces, we believe that human liberation is intimately linked to the liberation of all life, not least of which is fungal. Despite the common assertion to the contrary, science is informed by sociopolitical forces. ICAM recognizes and affirms the positive relationship between indigenous sovereignty and biological diversity in Armenia and beyond, and stands in solidarity with all indigenous social justice efforts around the world.

What type of activities do you organize and participate at?

ICAM is still a newly formed organization, we are still developing our network and programming.  We are currently building an international network of ethnically Armenian mycologists. We are planning collaborative research and grant support, and aim to provide bioinformatics tools to help support Armenian research endeavors. 

Central to our mission is mentorship of Armenian youth and early career scientists. Our plan is to be involved with the Armenian Youth Connect program, a professional and scientific mentorship program sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society.

How can someone get involved/participate in ICAM?

Social media including twitter: @IC_ArmenianMyco

Email: icarmenian.mycologists@gmail.com

And our website: https://icarmenian-mycologists.github.io 

Our group is centered around ethnically Armenian individuals motivated and excited about fungal ecology, taxonomy, biodiversity, lichenology and medical mycology, etc. Feel free to contact us over email or social media to learn more about our regular meetings.

If you are non-Armenian and interested in potential ally-ship and collaboration we encourage you to reach out.

Where can we find more information about ICAM?

Social media including twitter: @IC_ArmenianMyco

Email: icarmenian.mycologists@gmail.com

And our website: https://icarmenian-mycologists.github.io

Is there something else you would like to share with us?

Armenians are an ethnic minority indigenous to the highlands of west Asia and we are survivors of a long history of colonialism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and racism. This fraught history has left many Armenians disconnected from their ancestral homeland and culturally isolated. There are very few Armenians in general, nevermind in leadership positions in science and academia. The recent and ongoing conflict in the region, which was a continuation of the pan-Turkic settler colonial agenda, left many of us feeling powerless. This group was born out of that struggle.

University of Minnesota Mycology Club

University of Minnesota Mycology Club

Formed in 2012, the University of Minnesota Mycology Club is a platform for learning, teaching and celebrating fungal biology. Their aim is to unify the diversity of fungal knowledge around the campus and community through educational lectures, hands-on workshops, outreach and forays. It is a graduate student-organized university club whose members include undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, USDA scientists, local mushroom producers, and other interested mycophiles in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

During the warmer months, they grow and sell several kinds of mushrooms (shitakes, oysters, wine caps, lion’s mane) at the local university farmer’s stand. The proceeds from the fungal garden end up funding most of the club’s activities. The club also organizes mushroom forays at nearby state parks that bring in a diverse crowd of attendees who range from ‘expert’ to ‘not sure what a mushroom is’.

During the school year, the club organizes a number of on-campus events geared towards bringing mycologists together and educating the broader community. They also host a weekly myco journal club that is typically attended by graduate students, postdocs, and faculty, and has been a great way to regularly bring together mycologists in different departments and get to know one another. The club brings in researchers to give seminar talks on campus and puts together several workshops, on topics such as log inoculations and cheese-making. And of course, it hosts happy hours and mixers that bring the myco community together.

The UMN Mycology Club does outreach in the Twin Cities areas. The club and its members have organized events at locations such as the Bell Museum of Natural History and at local farmer’s markets. Which are great opportunities for them to bring out their own specimens and engage the public in what they do! The club also has a set of nifty Fungal Flashcards that help people learn common fungi found in Minnesota.

For more information about this club check them out on facebook (University of Minnesota Mycology Club), twitter (@UMNMycology), or their website (mycology.cfans.umn.edu/about-us/).

Prairie States Mushroom Club

Prairie States Mushroom Club

Imagine this: it’s a misty Iowa morning, and a small group of stick-and-basket-wielding mushroom enthusiasts has gathered near a stand of trees. The club members—some carrying small hand shovels, some carrying camera equipment, and all wearing hiking boots—spread out in the forest, only reconvening when someone whistles or calls to the others to observe a particularly interesting find. At the end of the morning, the members gather around a picnic table to identify and catalog their finds, as well as to share anecdotes regarding how a particular taxon might be found, identified, or prepared for consumption. The foray ends with lunch, and members return home with the spoils of their outing.

Formed in 1983, the Prairie States Mushroom Club (PSMC) is Iowa’s foremost amateur mycological society. The organization “promotes scientific and educational activities related to fungi and fosters the appreciation of wild and cultivated mushrooms”, as well as the “practical and scientific study of fungi and the gathering, dissemination and perpetuation of facts and knowledge on that subject.” The group shares their findings with other organizations—namely the North American Mycological Association (NAMA)—and professional mycologists.

While the group boasts a membership from diverse backgrounds (scientists, students, naturalists, and photographers to name a few), it was originally founded by former NAMA president Dr. Don Huffman and Dr. Lois Tiffany to help gather data on populations of morels (Morchella spp.) in the region. Since the conclusion of this study, however, the group’s interests have expanded beyond far beyond morels. Now, PSMC conducts forays around Iowa, encouraging seasoned and inexperienced mycophiles alike to explore the diversity of fungi for food and pleasure.

Of course, PSMC does more than just conduct forays.  The group also recruits speakers to lecture on interesting topics related to fungal biology, circulates an annual calendar of photos taken by members, and even produces its own newsletter. This newsletter often contains editorial pieces written by members, which often relate more intimate experiences with fungi, such as club president Glen Schwartz’s article “The Magic Stump” in which he relates his first experiences with mushrooms, his introduction to the PSMC, and a tree stump that supported remarkable diversity of fungi.

For those interested in membership or correspondence, the club can be contacted by e-mailing iowamushroom@gmail.com, or by visiting their website at www.iowamushroom.org.

Terry Torres-Cruz

Terry J Torres Cruz grew up in Costa Rica. She is currently doing research at Penn State-State College with Dr. David Geiser. 

Tell us about your project! 

My thesis project aims to describe a potential new plant-fungal mimicry system and the potential involvement of insects in this interaction.

What awards would you like to brag about?

During my time at Penn State, I have been recognized for my leadership work inside the institution with the “2021 Student Leader Scholarship” and for my efforts to promote intercultural understanding on campus and beyond with the “2020 Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Graduate Student Award”. I was awarded the “Jose de la Torres Scholarship” and the “Black Research Fund Travel Award” in 2018 by the College of Agricultural Sciences. My department has also supported me through a variety of awards: “James F & Marilyn Tammen Memorial Endowment” in 2020 and 2021, “Leonard J. Francl Memorial Endowment” in 2020, “Larry J. Jordan Memorial Endowment” in 2018, and the “Herbert Cole Jr. Fund” in 2018.

From MSA, I have received the Clark T Rogerson Research Award in 2019 to support a field trip and the Mentor Student Travel Award in the name of James M. Trappe in 2015. When I first came to the US to start my studies in mycology in 2014, I received an award from the “Internship Incentive Fund” by the Costa Rica Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología – Consejo Nacional para Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas and an award from the “International Travel Fund” by the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica that made possible my work at Western Illinois University and opened an array of research and professional opportunities for me.

What are your career goals/plans for after you’re done your current position?

I want to start my own lab in a research institution where I can mentor students and conduct research in the tropics.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

Bifiguratus adelaidae because its description was part of my master’s work and part of the work that led me to the mycology field.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

That even though there is so much research about fungi there is still so much to be discovered. And that the lack of knowledge and abundance of misinformation related to fungi in the general public actually gives US many opportunities to share our love for fungi (and knowledge) with others

Who is your mycology role model?

Drs. Andrea Porras-Alfaro and Priscila Chaverri because representation matters and seeing the amazing work they have done over the years as Costa Rican female mycologists inspires me to pursue my mycological dreams

Any great stories from field work?

A few come to mind that are funny in retrospective but were not so much in the moment, like hearing a jaguar close by and thinking that was it for me or discovering parasites under my skin after a field trip.

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

I spend a really big part of my free time doing volunteer/leadership work through different organizations and committees. I also enjoy being a mentor to female students in STEM and participate in different mentorship opportunities. After all that there is little free time left, but I enjoy traveling to new places, being outdoors, singing, and watching TV series.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

If you want to know more about my work, please visit my website: terrytorrescruz.com Also, I have a small community science project where I ask people doing work in northern South America to report observations of the system I am working with for my main PhD project (see info on my website).