Postdoctoral position on genomics and eco-evolutionary dynamics of toxic algal blooms

An NSF-funded postdoctoral position is available in the lab of Jennifer Wisecaver at Purdue University to study the eco-evolutionary genomics of toxin production in mixotrophic algae. Both the frequency and magnitude of toxic algal blooms are increasing across the globe, yet the genes and pathways responsible for toxin production as well as the ecological and evolutionary drivers of bloom events are poorly understood. Much of the prior genetic and biochemical investigations of bloom-forming species have been limited to analyses of laboratory isolates maintained as monocultures despite growing awareness that algal blooms are diverse assemblages. Thus, there is a critical need to quantify the genetic and toxic diversity present in bloom events as well as understand how this diversity is maintained in nature and impacts bloom cycling. The objective of the project is to determine the functional significance, in terms of both toxin production and bloom cycling, of the biodiversity present in toxic algal blooms. We will focus on the golden algae Prymnesium parvum (Haptophyceae), an invasive species responsible for ecosystem disruptive toxic bloom events, causing devastating fish kills in brackish, inland waters of the United States. 

Research activities for a postdoc on this project may include (but are not limited to): phenotypic characterization and whole genome sequencing of diverse Prymnesium strains, analysis of nucleotide and structural variation across these strains, culture-based abiotic and biotic stress experiments, co-expression network analysis to predict gene function, evolutionary analysis of gene families and integration of these results with gene expression networks and phenotypic data. To accomplish these tasks, the lab is seeking a highly motivated, creative individual with some combined experience in computational, evolutionary, and/or population genomics. 

Dr. Wisecaver is committed to increasing STEM participation across all measures of diversity, fostering a positive and collaborative lab environment, and acting as a mentor and facilitator to enable the career success of all lab members. A postdoc in the Wisecaver lab would be a welcome member of a vibrant community of scientists in the Department of Biochemistry and the Center for Plant Biology at Purdue. In addition, a postdoc would have access to world-class research facilities, most notably the Bindley Bioscience Center and the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing Community Cluster Program. 

If you are interested in joining the lab, please send an email to Jen Wisecaver ( with a statement of research interests, CV, and the names and contact information for at least two references. 

Evaluations of applicants will begin July 15, 2018 and continue until the position is filled.

Jennifer H. Wisecaver
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry
Center for Plant Biology
Purdue University
Ph: 1-765-494-4157