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Research Associate - Molecular Microbial Ecology, Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

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Job ID: 11118

Updated: June 2, 2017

Location: Main Campus

Position Overview

The Department of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Science invites applications for a Research Associate - Molecular Microbial Ecology. This Full-time Fixed Term position is for approximately 2 years (based on length of grant funding), with the possibility of extension.

The Energy Bioengineering & Geomicrobiology Group (EBG) is a collaborative research effort at the University of Calgary that began in 2014 as part of the Campus Alberta Innovation Program ( EBG occupies new state of the art environmental microbiology laboratories in the U of C’s Energy Environment and Experiential Learning Building ( The Group consists of two faculty (Marc Strous in the Department of Geosciences and Casey Hubert in the Department of Biological Sciences) joined by a diverse and talented team of staff, students and post docs, as well as many collaborators on campus and internationally. We work on various projects where environmental microbiology and bioengineering can improve how society approaches meeting our energy needs. This includes research related to both fossil fuel and renewable energy resources. EBG is supported by research funding from the University of Calgary, Province of Alberta, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Genome Canada. We are seeking new colleagues to join our team as post-doctoral research associates.

The Research Associate will report to the Principal Investigator and leader of the Geomicrobiology Group. Regular collaboration with other team members in the broader Energy Bioengineering and Geomicrobiology Group is expected and encouraged. The post-doctoral research associate will conduct her/his own experiments as well as provide support and mentoring to other team members (e.g., grad students, undergraduate project and summer students, visitors, etc) who need to set up similar experiments. Research Associates are part of the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) group. Applicants who have recently completed a PhD (<3 years) can alternatively join the University of Calgary through the post-doctoral scholars program (    

This position will focus on anomalies in benthic microbial diversity at marine seabed hydrocarbon seeps where naturally present thermogenic hydrocarbons enrich for aerobic and anaerobic hydrocarbon-degrading microbial groups. The position is for a molecular microbial ecologist familiar with hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria (aerobic and/or anaerobic) and with strengths in DNA sequencing, qPCR including primer design, and sequence analysis using bioinformatics tools. Sampling will primarily focus on sediments from the Scotian Slope off Canada’s east coast where the province of Nova Scotia is engaged in hydrocarbon seep prospecting (see: Using genetic biomarkers to characterize microbial communities at potential future industrial sites, baseline information about biodiversity and hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria in pristine sediments can be obtained while simultaneously contributing to de-risking exploration initiatives. Quantitative mapping of indicative microbial biomarkers in areas with and without hydrocarbons will require the development of sensitive molecular bioassays (e.g. through qPCR and other genomic approaches) that could target rRNA or other genes of interest, i.e., known functional genes for aerobic and anaerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation, or novel targets that may be identified through enrichment culture labelling or gene expression studies (e.g. SIP, transcriptomics, proteomics). The EBG labs are fully equipped for multi-omics experiments including in-house Illumina MiSeq sequencing capability. The molecular approaches required will be complemented by activity-based assays, offering the opportunity for close collaboration with EBG colleagues with expertise in biogeochemical analysis. More broadly, the position is part of a collaboration with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy the Geological Survey of Canada and other industry partners, and is funded by Genome Canada’s Genomics Applied Partnership Program. As such the work will include opportunities to integrate microbial genomics results with datasets from other geoscience disciplines including geochemistry and geophysics, working with experts from other fields in an interdisciplinary way.

Candidates interested in more than one of the vacancies in EBG (see Job ID#11117, 11119, 11120) are encouraged to indicate this in a covering letter but do not need to submit more than one application.


Position Description

Summary of Key Responsibilities (job functions include but are not limited to):


  • DNA extraction from challenging samples (e.g. marine sediments; hydrocarbon containing samples)
  • PCR and quantitative PCR
  • Primer and probe design for molecular bioassays to interrogate multiple samples
  • Nucleic acid sequencing, including of mixed communities
  • Sequence analysis using bioinformatics tools in microbial ecology
  • Microscopy methods for cell counting in environmental samples
  • Incorporation of metadata from geosciences into analysis of seabed microbial ecology

Reporting and Publications

  • Publication of results in peer-review journals is expected
  • Maintain a clear and well-documented log of all data
  • Meet with supervisor regularly (e.g. monthly meetings, as well as interactions on a day to day basis) to provide update on status of experimental results
  • Presentation of results to the EBG research group in weekly lab meetings (e.g. once a month) and if necessary to industry sponsors

Safety and Environment

  • Understand standard operating procedures of the equipment used in the experimental protocols
  • Maintain a clean and safe laboratory work area


  • Manage time effectively to complete project work and contribute yearly research updates to program sponsors
  • Perform other duties, as assigned by the Research Supervisor
  • Contribute on a daily basis towards a positive working environment within a large and diverse team of colleagues working in the EBG group

Qualifications / Requirements:

  • PhD in area of Microbiology, Microbial Ecology or a similar area
  • Experience in and knowledge of Environmental Microbiology
  • Experience with bioinformatics software applications and/or development
  • Familiarity with aerobic hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms and functional genes would be an asset
  • Familiarity with anaerobic hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms and functional genes would be an asset
  • Familiarity with geospatial mapping software would be an asset
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Programs
  • Knowledge of WHMIS
  • Ability to multi-task and deal with some repetitive tasks
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Must be comfortable working in a diverse research team and have good interpersonal skills
  • Ability and willingness to teach and mentor early career scientists (e.g. graduate students)
  • Experience with genomics and genetics related to aerobic and anaerobic hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms (e.g. functional genes) would be an asset
  • Willingness to conduct fieldwork on research vessels

Application Deadline:  This position will remain open until it is filled. Review of applications will begin in October, 2016.

Candidates interested in more than one of the vacancies in EBG (see Job ID #11117, #11119, #11120) are encouraged to indicate this in a covering letter but do not need to submit more than one application.

We would like to thank all applicants in advance for submitting their resumes. Please note, only those candidates chosen to continue on through the selection process will be contacted. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.


Additional Information

This position is part of the AUPE bargaining unit, and falls under the Technical Job Family, Phase 2 (range of $4,718.35 to $6,831.07 monthly).

To find out more about management and staff opportunities at the University of Calgary and all we have to offer, view our Management and Staff Careers website. For more information about the Faculty of Science visit Careers in the Faculty of Science.

In support of the University of Calgary’s promotion of a diverse workforce, EBG is committed to showing leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion and nurturing a healthy and respectful workplace environment for all.

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is Canada’s leading next-generation university – a living, growing and youthful institution that embraces change and opportunity with a can-do attitude. Located in the nation’s most enterprising city, the university is making tremendous progress on its Eyes High journey to become one of Canada’s top five research universities, grounded in innovative learning and teaching and fully integrated with the community it both serves and leads. Ranked as the top young university in Canada and North America, the University of Calgary inspires and supports discovery, creativity and innovation across all disciplines. For more information, visit

The University of Calgary believes that a respectful workplace, equal opportunity and building a diverse workforce contribute to the richness of the environment for teaching, learning and research, and provide faculty, staff, students and the public with a university that reflects the society it serves. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.



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