Academic jobs in the field of microbiology

10/16/2019 1:45:31 PM

By Elizabeth Stivison

Recently I’ve been intrigued by the variety of research opportunities focusing on the microbiology of the great outdoors and all the ways it interacts with complex life forms. So this week, I’m focusing on academic jobs available to study microbiology, the microbiome of the soil and water, and the symbiotic and pathogenic interactions of the microbiome with humans, plants, and animals. Positions in this field are often filled by candidates with degrees in fields like ecology and plant pathology, but expertise in molecular biology is applicable as well. Many of these research positions, while in academia, would produce data that has direct applications in agriculture and crop production as well as human disease.

Oklahoma State is looking to hire a tenure-track assistant professor to study plant–microbe interactions. OSU is considering all candidates with expertise in plant–microbe interactions but will favor those with plans to take a systems biology approach to understand plant disease-resistance mechanisms or the beneficial effects of plant–microbe interaction. The duties will be 75% research and 25% teaching. This position requires a Ph.D. and at least two years of postdoctoral training. Applications will begin to be reviewed on Dec 1.

Penn State is looking to hire a tenure-track assistant professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology to study detection and prevention of soilborne diseases. This professor will be expected to set up a research program to study soil and analyze it for pathogens, from bacteria to nematodes. The job will be 75% research and 25% teaching. A Ph.D. in the plant pathology, soil ecology, microbiology or a related field is required. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

If you’re looking for a research position with a bigger teaching role, Austin-Peay State University is looking to hire a tenure-track assistant professor of microbiology. The scientist hired would be encouraged to focus on human/animal/plant microbial diseases, microbial symbioses with animals and plants/microbiomes or environmental microbiology. This assistant professor will teach two lecture courses and two lab courses per semester. A Ph.D. in biology, microbiology or a closely related field is required, but applicants finishing their dissertations (called ABD) will be considered if the degree will be awarded by the position start date. Open until filled.

For new Ph.D.s, North Carolina State University is hiring a postdoc to study the microbiome of fish eggs and skin within the context of both stock management and ecology. A Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., M.D., D.V.M., Sc.D.) in an appropriate field (awarded no more than five years ago) is required. 

Elizabeth Stivison is a postdoctoral researcher studying mechanisms of DNA repair at Columbia University. She covers academic careers for the ASBMB.

Careers in STEM education

10/8/2019 11:48:28 AM

By Martina G. Efeyini

This week we are going to focus on STEM education.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is everywhere. It is basic, it is complex and it is necessary in everything we do. STEM education is all about examining STEM through an interdisciplinary lens and applied approach to solve problems.

STEM education has been getting headlines. Back in 2009, President Obama launched his 10-year STEM campaign, Educate to Innovate, to improve STEM education nationwide. Fast-forward to 2018, when the Executive Office of the President of the United States published a report (Charting a Course for Success: America's Strategy for STEM Education) outlining the vision of making high-quality STEM education accessible nationwide.  Also, during this time, the U.S. Department of Education promised to invest $200 million in STEM education.

The ASBMB supports STEM education at all levels and promotes diversity in the scientific workforce. If you want to test the waters of a STEM-education career, join or start an ASBMB student chapter or volunteer with the ASBMB Education and Professional Development Committee. These are great ways to get involved and network with other scientists who are interested in using their science backgrounds to make an impact on the next generation.

STEM education increases diversity, inclusion and equity because we all deserve a seat at the table. So what does this mean? We need more scientists in STEM education careers!

No matter what your interests, education or experiences, there are many opportunities available in this growing field. A good place to start is to explore what area of STEM education fits your career goals. 

Here are some STEM-education positions to get you started.  

Educational consultant jobs

Educational consultants can work in a variety of environments. They partner with leaders, teachers or faculty members to create engaging and outcomes-focused learning environments.

Requirements: A graduate degree and experience working in higher-education classroom settings.

  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is hiring a faculty consultant for inclusive teaching to educate and support faculty with developing teaching, programs and resources that are inclusive across the university.
  • The Georgia Institute of Technology is hiring a program manager for teaching and learning online to consult and collaborate with members of the university to ensure high quality instruction for the online M.S. initiatives in analytics, computer science and cybersecurity.

Instruction and curriculum development jobs

Instruction and curriculum development jobs focus on designing and developing courses to enhance learning experiences for students in kindergarten through graduate school.  

Requirements: A bachelor's degree and teaching experience, but a master’s degree is preferred. Experience working with curriculum design is also required.

  • The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is hiring an instructional designer to design and develop various instructional materials for learning-managements systems (LMS) and online learning platforms.   

Educational specialist jobs

Educational specialists are passionate about education and teaching. These positions focus on a specific STEM area to create engaging learning experiences in formal and informal spaces. 

Requirements: A bachelor's degree in the area of focus and teaching experience.

STEM education programming jobs

STEM education programming jobs focus on developing programs for the next generation of scientists. 

Requirements: Director- or associate-level positions require a Ph.D. in a STEM field. Assistant director and program coordinator positions require a master's degree. All require experience in STEM education, program administration, mentoring or higher education.

For more ASBMB STEM education resources, click here.

Martina G. Efeyini is a toxicologist, science communicator and STEM advocate for the next generation of scientists. She covers alternative-academic careers for the ASBMB.

Taking translational research out of the lab: working on clinical trials

10/4/2019 10:01:05 AM

By Courtney Chandler

While each stage of drug development is extremely complex and rigorous, the clinical research step is make-or-break. Most drugs fail during clinical trials, and only about 14% get Food and Drug Administration approval. With that success rate, there’s a need for lots of trials all the time. 

Conducting a clinical trial is a huge undertaking: A single trial can require hundreds of participants and can span several years. In addition, and here’s where you come in, they require a wide range of personnel working in clinical, scientific and regulatory roles. 

This week, we take a look at the duties and skills required of research scientists, research coordinators and research associates working on clinical trials. These are positions available for job-seekers with Ph.D.s and master’s degrees. 

Clinical research scientist/assistant 

Clinical research scientists provide scientific support to the operational side of the clinical trial. These scientists write and design trial methodologies and material, brief other trial members on how to conduct the trial, review case report forms, and monitor the overall trial progress. 

Generally, at least a master’s degree is required. 

Key skills: problem solving, critical thinking and planning, strong decision-making, and excellent communication. 

Clinical research coordinator (CRC)

Clinical research coordinators handle administrative aspects of clinical trials and usually work for the hospitals or institutions conducting them. A CRC coordinates daily activities for a trial and guides the investigator on its progress to ensure financial, ethical, and research compliance. This position does not usually require travel.

It does usually require at least a master’s degree and some experience. 

Key skills: management, excellent verbal communication and organization. 

Clinical research associate (CRA) 

The clinical research associate is the main point of contact at a clinical trial site, acting as the liaison between the sponsor of the trial and the clinic/location where the trial is taking place. A CRA may interact with patients to verify their rights, safety and well-being and may check the clinical data for accuracy. CRAs typically manage multiple trials at different sites, sometimes in different states, so travel is usually required. 

While not always required, having a master’s degree or Ph.D. can give candidates an edge. CRAs typically require certification

Key skills: highly organized, able to effectively communicate with all parties involved in the trial, and detail-oriented. 

Application tips for clinical positions 

Here are a few tips that may help you leverage the training, scientific and otherwise, you earned during graduate school. 

Invest in additional learning. Clinical trial research may require skills outside of those acquired during basic laboratory research. Finding extra educational opportunities is a great way to show you’re serious about clinical research and to expand your knowledge of the field. Check to see if your university offers programs, certificates or courses in clinical research and take advantage of them if you can. Alternatively, you can read up on the field and its career paths. Relevant reads include the Fundamental of Clinical Trials and Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development.

Volunteer for a trial. Clinical trials are always looking for volunteers, both as participants and in managerial roles. Your university or local organizations may be conducting clinical trials that need healthy participants. If you’re interested in seeing the process firsthand, you could volunteer to be a participant by finding a study near you. If volunteering to be in the study is a little too up-close-and-personal for your taste, you can contact the clinical trial mangers or research administrators to ask if they need help with the administration side of the project. This could involve helping set up for the study visits, data entry or other research roles.

Tailor your CV. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to highlight the skills and experience you have that make you well-suited for clinical research. While your specific research or laboratory techniques may not be directly applicable, you can highlight other transferrable skills, using the specific job description as a guide. Essential skills that hiring managers may be looking for include organization, management, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

Job boards, such as the one maintained by the Society of Clinical Research Associates, are a great place to start looking for positions in clinical research.

Courtney Chandler is a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University. She covers industry careers for ASBMB. Send feedback to