Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Microbial Community Analysis through Next Generation Sequencing

University of Canterbury, New Zealand - Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

  • Full-time (37.5 hours per week)
  • Fixed term (3 years) position

Nitrate-contaminated water causes serious health and environmental problems (e.g. blue baby syndrome, toxic algae blooms, and cancer). Intensive farming and municipal wastewater disposal are the leading causes of high nitrate levels. For complete nitrate removal to occur, an oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment is required. This converts the nitrate to harmless nitrogen gas. Recent research has indicated that methane can be used to drive nitrate removal. However, it is unclear how methane drives nitrate removal, as the typical methane-using microbes require oxygen, which normally prevents the conversion of nitrate to nitrogen.

To understand the methane-driven system, we will determine which microbes, amongst the many different types of microbes present in water, are removing the nitrate. We will use methane labelled with a stable isotope of carbon. Only microbes feeding on the methane will incorporate the isotope allowing us to identify which groups of organisms are active in the microbial community under different conditions during nitrate removal.

This project will be the first attempt to obtain this knowledge and couple it to nitrate removal in different environmental conditions. The project will increase the fundamental knowledge of the biological nitrogen cycle and improve the design of systems that remove nitrate from contaminated waters.

We are seeking a self-motivated applicant with an excellent academic record and strong written skills for this post-doctoral research position. The successful candidate must have experience in next generation sequencing including development of pipelines for analysis of data. Experience with biological reactor systems, microbial denitrification, or stable isotope probing for community analysis while not required will be advantageous. There will be an opportunity for you to assist with the supervision of a PhD student who will be working on related aspects of the project.

You should hold a PhD in applied microbiology, molecular biology, or bioprocess engineering. You will need to demonstrate that you have the right to work in New Zealand. Assistance with visas may be provided by the University should that be required.

For more information about this project, please email

The closing date for this position is: 31 January 2018.

The University of Canterbury is committed to promoting a world-class learning environment through research and teaching excellence, and has a vision statement of “People Prepared to Make a Difference”. You will have the opportunity to work alongside members of a diverse academic community and enrich your own professional and personal development.

For information about the range of benefits in joining UC please visit us online at:

Applications for this position should include a cover letter, resume, complete academic transcript, and any additional attachments combined into one document and submitted online.

The University of Canterbury is an EEO employer and actively seeks to meet its obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi.

To learn more about working & living in New Zealand, please visit:

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* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed