GL – Geophysical Lab

NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Research Associate Geomicrobiologist: The Co-Evolving Geosphere and Biosphere – 9/18

Department: GL – Geophysical Lab

Salary: TBD

Location: Washington, DC

The Geophysical Laboratory seeks a highly qualified applicant for a Postdoctoral Research Associate position with expertise in geomicrobiology. The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Robert Hazen and with members of the newly announced NASA Astrobiology Institute ENIGMA team (Evolution of Nanomachines In Geospheres and Microbial Ancestors) led by Paul Falkowski at Rutgers University. The candidate will employ large data resources in metagenomics, protein structures, geochemistry, and mineralogy to explore how proteins and their expressed functions coevolved with the geosphere through geological time. We propose to carry out data-driven abductive studies of microbial and mineral evolution that document the changes in Earth’s mineral diversity and distribution through deep-time, focusing on mineral interactions with the biosphere. Mineralogical data (e.g., mineral composition, solubility, and age) will be incorporated into geochemical models to constrain the concentration of metals over geologic time and metal bioavailability during Archean and Proterozoic eons. We will then use the availability of redox-active transition metals to date specific positions in the protein evolution trees. Employing large meta-omics and geochemical datasets of modern environments, we will test if metal concentrations are reliable markers for the occurrence of protein cofactors, and thus the validity of using metal bioavailability to constrain a protein evolution timeline. Finally, we will explore if the co-evolution of minerals and proteins resulted in specific suites of minerals that may represent fossil “geobiosignatures” of life. We hypothesize that mineral diversification on Earth was a consequence, direct or indirect, of the biosphere. We hope that this work will allow us to distinguish key differences in mineral diversity and distribution on terrestrial planets and moons, and reveal if key minerals are required for life to proliferate.

Minimum qualifications: The applicant must have a Ph.D. in Geobiology/Bioscience and must be familiar with concepts of microbiology, geomicrobiology, geochemistry of aqueous environments, mineral deposit types, tectonic settings, and Earth’s changing near-surface environments in deep time. Programming skills are not required, but familiarity with database development, management, and use, as well as the ability to work knowledgeably with data scientist colleagues, are essential.

This full-time, 2-year position will commence on or after January 1, 2019, and will be based at Carnegie’s Broad Branch Road campus in Washington, DC. Interested applicants will need to submit a CV, contact information for three references, and a cover letting stating your interest in the position by October 1, 2018. Finalists will be notified by October 15, 2018. Only complete applications submitted via this Carnegie website will be considered.

Prospective researchers will work at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC. The Carnegie Institution of Washington is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, protected veteran status, disability, or other protected group status.

Carnegie Fellowships at the Geophysical Laboratory

Department: GL – Geophysical Lab


Location: Washington, DC

The Geophysical Laboratory invites applications for Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellowships. Current research at the Geophysical Laboratory falls primarily within three overlapping thematic areas: Earth and Planetary Science, Astrobiology and the Origin of Life, and the Chemistry and Physics of Materials at Extreme Conditions. Synergies among these thematic areas, as well as links to many closely related research pursuits at Carnegie’s co-located Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, provide Carnegie Fellows with exceptional opportunities for collaboration.

Investigations in earth and planetary sciences focus on the origin and evolution of earth and the terrestrial planets, core formation in planetary bodies, planetary melting and differentiation and the structure and dynamics of planetary interiors. Astrobiology focuses on the conditions and reactions necessary for life to emerge and be sustained on planetary bodies and the detection of life on and in extraterrestrial objects and ancient earth. Studies of the physics and chemistry of materials focus on understanding material behavior at extreme conditions, and the development of new synthesis pathways for novel materials and the design of property-specific materials from first principles.

World-class experimental and analytical facilities at the Geophysical Laboratory permit unparalleled access to matter at extreme conditions and to analysis of earth and planetary materials at micron and sub-micron scales. In addition, scientific computing resources available to the campus include the Carnegie Memex cluster (2500+ cores) as well as local computing resources. Carnegie Fellowships also provide funding for conference and meeting travel, and for the publication of results from postdoctoral work. Please see our listing of personnel, research areas, and major facilities for more information.

Applicants should have a PhD in a relevant field by the time of appointment and a promising record of research and publication. Fellowship applications must include a curriculum vitae, list of publications, brief description of thesis research, brief (2-3 page) statement of research plans during the fellowship, and three letters of reference sent by those familiar with your work. The fellowship committee evaluates research proposals for evidence of original thinking and creativity to determine a candidate’s ability to develop and carry out a research project at the Laboratory. You are encouraged to contact a Geophysical Laboratory Staff Member about the suitability of your project.

Only applications submitted via this Carnegie Website will be considered. Evaluation of completed applications will begin December 1, 2018 with interviews beginning in January, 2019. Successful candidates may begin their fellowships between July 1 and December 31, 2019.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, protected veteran status, disability, or other protected group status.