Research Associate (for 2020 onwards):
           Synthetic Ecology & the Evolution of Symbiosis

The Hom Lab at the University of Mississippi is seeking a dedicated, full-time Research Associate (RA) to assist with research and publications, the supervision and support of students, and overall lab management. The RA will primarily lead a NSF CAREER-funded project on experimentally co-evolving model fungal-algal mutualisms, but will also be given opportunities to be involved in several projects in our eclectic research portfolio).

The successful candidate must be self-motivated and a self-starter, growth-minded, highly disciplined and organized, able to effectively multitask, and have an attestable record of productivity and working well with others. The candidate should have demonstrated experience working with microbes (fungi and algae are a plus) and be enthusiastic about learning/developing new techniques, approaches, and research areas. Experience in molecular genetics, next-gen sequencing/bioinformatics, and/or 3D-printing/device-tinkering are pluses. We envision strong candidates having a Ph.D. in biology (or related field) but welcome applications from candidates with a B.A./B.S./M.S. degree who have a substantial laboratory/research background. The expected commitment is for at least two years, with an initial one-year term with review, and the potential to renew for up to five years depending on annual performance.

Our lab is interested in understanding how biotic and abiotic factors dovetail to facilitate the formation, persistence, and evolution of species interactions, notably those that are symbiotic. We are particularly fond of studying associations involving fungi, algae, and cyanobacteria, and take a two-pronged approach towards understanding how microbes interact to form stable, functioning communities. In one approach, we create new ecosystems of interacting microbes (synthetic ecology) to test our predictive understanding of basic design principles in microbial ecology. In a complementary approach, we focus on dissecting, manipulating, and observing reduced microbial communities (polycultures) isolated from nature to infer fundamental rules. Our lab is passionate about STEM education and outreach to individuals and communities in underserved/disadvantaged contexts, while pushing forward an innovative and world-class research program.

The University of Mississippi is a Carnegie R1 institution in an exciting phase of growth. The university is located in Oxford, MS, an idyllic and growing college town about 1 hr south of Memphis, TN. In addition to SEC sports, a famous tailgating culture at “The Grove,” and a rich Southern culinary scene, Oxford is home to a vibrant music, arts, and literary community with strong historic ties to William Faulkner and The Blues. Ours is a very livable city with a small town feel for those who value work-life balance, community, and proximity to the countryside.

To formally apply, submit application materials here: Candidates should be prepared to upload: (1) a cover letter explaining specific interest in and fit for the position, (2) a detailed CV, (3) names and contact information for at least 3 references, and (4) optional files to support their application (e.g., publication reprints). Compensation will be depend on experience and will include health and retirement benefits. For informal questions/inquiries only, contact Erik Hom at:

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. We seek to fill this position as soon as possible but are willing wait for the right candidate. We warmly invite women and others from diverse, non-majority backgrounds to apply.

Anticipated Job Responsibilities:
(1) Help lead and conduct co-evolution experiments of yeast and algae, which will include refining designs, assembling, and programing a home-build nutristat system with periodic monitoring capabilities.
(2) Perform follow-on experiments and analyses that include genome re-sequencing (with library preparation), RNAseq, associated bioinformatics, and genetic engineering/analysis of yeast/algae.
(3) Actively participate in at least one other ongoing, team project in the lab.
(4) Carefully document all aspects of relevant projects in an organized, digital format and help lead in publishing manuscripts.
(5) Assist the PI in lab management, ordering, stocking, and organizing of lab supplies/equipment, protocols, and best practices; help ensure a clean, organized, and productive lab.
(6) Assist in the training of new personnel and the supervision/mentoring of students.
(7) Help oversee the lab's microbial culture collection/stocks.

Other Openings

If you are:

• a MS high school student interested in a summer research experience, check out: ARISE@UM
• an undergraduate interested in working in the lab during the year, over the summer, or for an Honor's thesis
• a potential graduate student interested in training as a scientist and joing the lab
• looking for a postdoctoral research experience (or the like)
• interested in a visiting the lab are welcome to contact Dr. Hom directly with an enquiry.

Note that we value individuals that are hard-working, highly motivated, disciplined, and resilient. If you're curious and have an appetite for discovery, adventure, and learning, that's what will keep you chugging in science!