Postdoctoral Research Associate - Biology - Impact of Heterozygosity and Structural Variation on Defense

companyWashington University In St. Louis School of Arts&Sciences
location6475 Forsyth Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA
PublishedPublished: 2/3/2024
Laboratory and Research
Full Time

Job Description

Position Summary

Plant defense is not a static biological process – it is influenced by dynamic factors such as ontogeny, morphogenesis, tissue type, and the circadian clock. Our research program uses various non‑model species and a hypothesis driven, systems approach to examine how these factors impact plant defense. We explore how plants have navigated the fine line between growth and defense by evolving different strategies to optimize interactions with their microbial environments to maximize fitness. Our long-term goal is to investigate fundamental mechanisms of defense optimization, deepening our understanding of plant‑biotic interactions and providing direct, translatable implications for agricultural sustainability in a changing climate.

We are seeking a highly motivated and talented postdoctoral researcher to join our dynamic research team at Washington University in St. Louis. The successful candidate will contribute to an exciting research project investigating the impact of heterozygosity and structural variation on defense mechanisms in plant species, focusing on out-crossing crops and plants. This position offers an excellent opportunity to work on cutting-edge genomics and genetics research, with implications for clonally propagated and hybrid crops. The project will involve assembling and analyzing genomes, studying allele specific gene expression (ASE), exploring large haplotypic structural variations (SV), and investigating plant-microbe interactions.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work in a dynamic and collaborative research environment, with access to state‑of‑the‑art facilities and resources. Our lab is committed to fostering an inclusive culture, where individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives are valued and supported. We believe that diversity and inclusivity are critical to driving innovation and advancing scientific discovery, and we actively work to promote a welcoming and respectful environment for all lab members. In addition to the research opportunities, the postdoc will have access to a wide range of networking connections within the plant biotech industry and start‑up ecosystem in the St. Louis area. Our lab has an established network with local companies and organizations, providing opportunities for collaboration and potential career opportunities for our team members. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and to participate in the teaching and training of new researchers. Finally, the successful candidate will be supported to present their research findings at national and international conferences, and to publish articles in high‑impact peer‑reviewed journals.

Information on being a postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis can be found at https://postdoc.wustl.edu/prospective-postdocs-2/.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities

  • Contribute to the assembly and annotation of genomes for heterozygous plants, utilizing recent technological innovations.
  • Conduct analysis of RNA sequencing data to explore patterns of allele-specific expression (ASE) its potential relation with structural variation and defense.
  • Collaborate with team members in developing a statistical framework and R package for accurate ASE analysis, incorporating network analysis approaches.
  • Use high‑resolution transcriptional time course inoculation experiments to study the optimization of plant‑microbe interactions.
  • Employ epigenomic approaches to understand the impact of heterozygous deletions on gene expression and plant-microbe interactions.
  • Present research findings at scientific meetings and publish results in peer‑reviewed journals.
  • Mentor and train graduate students and research assistants as needed.

Required Qualifications

  • PhD in Plant Biology, Genetics, Genomics, or related fields.
  • Strong background in genomics, genetics, and molecular biology techniques.
  • Proficiency in programming languages such as R and Python.
  • Strong record of publications in peer‑reviewed journals.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with plant‑microbe interactions and defense mechanisms is desirable.
  • Experience with genome assembly and annotation, as well as RNAseq data analysis.
  • Experience with plant pathogen disease assays.
  • Familiarity in building interactive web‑based tools.
  • Some experience in adapting special sequencing libraries (e.g ATAC‑seq) in plants.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills.

Salary Range

Base pay is commensurate with experience.


If you are unable to use our online application system and would like an accommodation, please emailCandidateQuestions@wustl.eduor call the dedicated accommodation inquiry number at 314-935-1149 and leave a voicemail with the nature of your request.

Pre-Employment Screening

All external candidates receiving an offer for employment will be required to submit to pre-employment screening for this position. The screenings will include criminal background check and, as applicable for the position, other background checks, drug screen, an employment and education or licensure/certification verification, physical examination, certain vaccinations and/or governmental registry checks. All offers are contingent upon successful completion of required screening.

Benefits Statement

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to providing a comprehensive and competitive benefits package to our employees. Benefits eligibility is subject to employment status, full-time equivalent (FTE) workload, and weekly standard hours. Please visit our website at https://hr.wustl.edu/benefits/ to view a summary of benefits.

EEO/AA Statement

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity and especially encourages applications by those from underrepresented groups. It is the University’s policy to provide equal opportunity and access to persons in all job titles without regard to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, protected veteran status, or genetic information.

Diversity Statement

Washington University is dedicated to building a diverse community of individuals who are committed to contributing to an inclusive environment – fostering respect for all and welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Individuals with a commitment to these values are encouraged to apply.