Really exciting sounding postdoc opportunity with Parag Vaishampayan at JPL, “Metagenomics approach for genetic inventory of microbes to identify, document, and archive broadest spectrum of potential terrestrial contaminants during the spacecraft assembly process“.
Plus I have to say that is the coolest looking recruitment banner that I’ve ever seen in my life. Job posting here. Text from the posting below:
New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.
Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.
We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. With great opportunity comes great responsibilities! We perform space exploration without jeopardizing science objectives of the future missions. In compliance with the Committee on Space Research Planetary Protection policy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) monitors the total microbial burden of spacecraft as a means for minimizing forward contamination, the inadvertent transfer of viable contaminant microorganisms to the extraterrestrial environment. Using conventional and state-of-the-art molecular techniques, a wide range of investigations have examined cultivable (La Duc, et al., 2007, Ghosh, et al., 2009) and nonculturable bacterial diversity (La Duc, et al., 2009, Vaishampayan, et al., 2010) associated with Spacecraft Assembly Cleanrooms (SAC). Despite numerous characterizations of microbial populations in SAC (La Duc et al., 2007, Moissl, et al., 2007, Ghosh, et al., 2009, Vaishampayan, et al., 2010), understanding microbes associated with spacecraft itself remains a significant challenge. Metagenomics approach provides a comprehensive microbial census of the microbial community present in a given habitat. No efforts have been made to understand the microbial diversity associated with the actual spacecraft components and related surfaces, throughout the assembly process, due to the inaccessibility of these samples.
With Dr. Parag Vaishampayan serving as JPL postdoctoral advisor to the selected candidate, the appointee will support hardware sampling, sample processing, documentation, archiving and analysis of the metagenome data using the bioinformatics approaches. Since this will be the first attempt to document, and archive broadest spectrum of potential terrestrial contaminants during the spacecraft assembly process metagenome approach, it will lead to a scientific publication in a high impact journal. The successful candidate will develop strategies to process these low-biomass samples and construct metagenome libraries.
The appointee will reside in JPL’s Biotechnology & Planetary Protection group (352N).
Candidates must have a recent PhD in Microbiology/ bioinformatics/Astrobiology; experience in microbiology lab techniques, molecular techniques (DNA extraction, qPCR, NGS library preparation); a strong background in computational biology/bioinformatics/ NGS; metagenome data analysis. Also, an understanding and ability to apply statistical techniques to study large data sets are a plus. Candidates who have received their PhD within the past five years since the date of their application are eligible. Postdoctoral Scholar positions are awarded for a minimum of one-year period and may be renewed up to a maximum duration of three years.
Applicants should submit their CV and other relevant materials to this site and arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent to Parag.A.Vaishampayan@jpl.nasa.gov.