BSE – Biosphere Sciences & Engineering

Postdoctoral Researcher

Department: BSE – Biosphere Sciences & Engineering

Salary: $65,000

Location: Pasadena, CA

Position Summary:

The Division of Biosphere Sciences and Engineering (BSE) at the Carnegie Institution for Science, a non-profit, world-class research institution is seeking candidates for a postdoctoral researcher position in the Cao lab, currently residing at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

The Cao lab is seeking a postdoctoral fellow to study symbiosis between the insect parasitic nematode Steinernema spp. and its mutualistic bacterium Xenorhabdus spp.. The Steinernema-Xenorhabdus mutualistic symbiosis is a well-established experimental model to study basic animal-microbe interactions and has great potential for agricultural applications due to Steinemema’s parasitisim on agricultural pests. Our lab’s research focuses on developing genetic tools to uncover the molecular mechanisms of communication between the nematode-bacteria symbiotic partners as well as its application in biosphere engineering. Since we work with an emerging genetic model organism, there are numerous opportunities for scientific exploration as well as tool development.

Current projects available in the laboratory include:

  • Developing molecular genetics tools in nematode hermaphroditum, such as CRISPR-Cas9-based genome-editing and transgene.
  • Symbiont-specific chemosensation in Steinernema nematodes.
  • Biochemical signaling in hermaphroditum- X. griffiniae symbiosis.
  • Symbiont-modulated host gene expression.

Desired qualifications and expectations:

  • Focused, self-motived, and passionate about microbial symbiosis.
  • Completed doctoral degree in microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, organismal biology, or related fields.
  • Evidence of ability to create and adapt protocols for an emerging model organism.
  • Excellent written skills that are suited for manuscript preparation and grant writing.
  • Excellent oral communication skills: including scientific presentations and discussions.
  • Evidence of ability to work independently and in a small team, including training younger lab members.
  • High resilience in experimental failures and strong abilities in problem-solving.
  • Commitment to a collegial and inclusive workplace.

Salary: $65,000 annualized, plus benefits and supporting funds for research and equipment.

How to Apply:

  • The application must include a cover letter, a CV (including a list of publications), and a list of three references with contact information.

Please contact Dr. Mengyi Cao at with any questions about the position.

At Carnegie, we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community. We believe academic environments should be places where diverse groups of people with a variety of viewpoints and ideas can thrive and work together. As such, we encourage applicants from under-represented groups and backgrounds to apply.

The Carnegie Institution is an equal-opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or any other protected group status.