Postdoctoral Researcher in Viral Ecology and Discovery

    The core mission of the Cluster of Excellence “Balance of the Microverse” of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, is to elucidate fundamental principles of the interactions and functions in microbial communities in diverse habitats, ranging from oceans and groundwater to plant and human hosts. We collaborate with the Center of Microbiome Science (CoMS) of the Ohio State University, USA, with its mission to empower microbiome science for the design and prediction of microbial communities in animal, plant, human, environmental, and engineered systems.

    As part of the International Scientists Exchange Program in the Cluster of Excellence we invite applications for a

    Postdoctoral Researcher in Viral Ecology and Discovery (m/f/d)

    commencing on November 1st, 2022, or at the next possible date thereafter. We offer a two-year, full-time position embedded within several world class viral/microbial ecology research groups. The successful candidate will work at the Küsel Lab at the University of Jena, in close collaboration with the teams of Manja Marz and Bas Dutilh, and at the Sullivan Lab at the Ohio State University. We are looking for an engaging and motivated individual, who is willing to spend time both in Germany and the US, to collaborate widely and to look beyond traditional disciplines to further our mission.

    The postdoctoral project will address the questions how viruses modulate microbial impacts of ecosystem functioning via killing, transferring niche-defining genes (e.g., antibiotic resistance), and reprogramming. We will address the ecological and evolutionary pressures that viruses apply to groundwater and soil ecosystems. Leveraging over ten years of spatiotemporal data collected at the Hainich Critical Zone Exploratory, and multiple large scale metagenomic and metaproteomic datasets, the prospective applicant will aim to quantify carbon, nutrient, and gene fluxes passing through a groundwater viral shunt. Identified mechanisms will be verified via experimental manipulation experiments. Options to generalize findings exist by utilizing pre-existing datasets available within both Balance of the Microverse and the CoMS or by generating the data deemed necessary to extend the results to regional or global scales.

    The postdoctoral research will benefit from the interdisciplinary expertise at the Cluster of Excellence “Balance of the Microverse” as well as the European Virus Bioinformatics Center in Jena, and the Center of Microbiome Science at Ohio State University. Beyond CoMS, Ohio State’s 100+ microbiome faculty make for a tight research network that also includes the Infectious Disease Institute, with a Microbial Communities Program, and the EMERGE Biology Integration Institute, an NSF Biology Integration Institute pushing microbiome science with a climate change microbiology and eco-systems biology focus.

    Your responsibilities:
    • Spend at least 50% of the working time at Ohio State University.
    • Contribute to the development of project direction as the project evolves.
    • Produce written reports and draft papers. Present your results at national and international conferences.
    • Assist with training other researchers, including Masters’ and undergraduate project students, where required. Assist with the teaching activities of the group where required.
    • Contribute to maintaining the friendly, welcoming and collaborative environment within groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Your profile:
    • A PhD or equivalent in Microbiology, Bioinformatics, Microbial Ecology, and related fields. Candidates in the final stages of obtaining their degree are eligible to apply.
    • Desirable methodological skills: molecular biological and statistical methods such as high-throughput sequencing of viral DNA, metagenomics analyses, multivariate statistics (e.g., R, Phython)
    • Outstanding track record of planning, performing, and publishing original research
    • The ability to work creatively and independently towards developing your own research project
    • Excellent communication skills and a collaborative personality with enthusiasm for actively participating in our dynamic research community

    We offer:
    • Unique position within the Transatlantic Viral Ecology Network, a collaboration between Balance of the Microverse in Jena, Germany, and CoMS in Ohio, USA.
    • A comprehensive continuing education programme for personal development, individual qualification and development measures.
    • Your primary appointment will be in Jena – City of Science, a lovely and lively town with a vibrant local cultural agenda. Jena is among the most liveable cities in Germany. Situated on the Saale River and surrounded by the famous Thuringian Forest, this city is ideal for lovers of nature and hiking.
    • The Ohio State University campus, where you will spend about half of your working time, is located in Columbus, the capital city of Ohio. Columbus is the Midwest’s fastest-growing city and offers a diverse array of welcoming neighborhoods and a vibrant arts and culture scene.
    • The University of Jena is a family-friendly working environment with the University Family Office ‘JUniFamilie’ and flexible childcare options (‘JUniKinder’ program).
    • The University of Jena has an occupational health promotion scheme and a wide range of university sports activities.
    • Attractive fringe benefits, e.g. capital formation benefits (VL), Job Ticket (benefits for public transport), and an occupational pension (VBL).
    • Remuneration based on the provisions of the Collective Agreement for the Public Sector of the Federal States (TV-L) up to salary scale E 13 (depending on the candidate’s personal qualifications) including a special annual payment in accordance with the collective agreement.
    The two-year full-time position will be funded through the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments. A part-time contract can be discussed. To promote gender equality in science, applications by women are especially welcome. Candidates with severe disabilities will be given preference in the case of equal qualifications and suitability.

    Applications should be written in English and comprise a cover letter, a detailed curriculum vitae including publication list, and copies of academic certificates. Please submit your application under the vacancy ID GWP 02/2022 via the JSMC Online Application Portal:

    Application deadline: 25 August 2022

    Since all application documents will be duly destroyed after the recruitment process, we ask you to submit only copies of your documents.
    For further information for applicants, please also refer to (in German)
    Please also note the information on the collection of personal data at

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