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Cultivating Extremophilic Microorganisms from the Mt Erebus Geothermal System on Ross Island, Antarctica.


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr MB Stott, Prof Craig Cary  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Project

We are seeking an enthusiastic Doctoral student interested in being part of an international research team on a Royal Society of New Zealand (Marsden Fund)-funded research grant entitled In extremis – revealing novel metabolic pathways that support microbial populations in the deep subsurface biosphere of Mt Erebus, Antarctica”. The project aims to investigate the microbial diversity and ecology of heated soils on Mt Erebus, with a particular focus on discovering new microbial species and metabolic pathways. The doctoral student will focus on cultivating novel thermophilic bacterial and archaeal representatives using traditional cultivation and/or high-throughput techniques guided by a combination of metagenomic, geochemical and thermodynamics methodologies.

The successful candidate will be part of an international team with expertise in cultivating novel microbial species, bioenergetics of hydrothermal environments, molecular ecology of extreme environments and Polar microbiology.

The project is funded as part of the Royal Society New Zealand Marsden Grant project collaboration between the University of Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Waikato, Hamilton. The doctoral project will be based principally at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, but will include field trips to New Zealand and Antarctica geothermal areas the University of Waikato, Hamilton.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to undertake field work in Antarctica and in the geothermal areas of New Zealand.

The Candidate

We are seeking an enthusiastic candidate to start as soon as possible with a strong experimental background microbiology to either Masters or Honours (first class) level. The ideal candidate will have interest and knowledge in at least or more of the following areas: geomicrobiology, genomics, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, polar microbiology, microbial biogeography, high-throughput isolation and cultivation of thermophilic bacteria, comparative genomics, and/or microbial evolution. An ability adapt and a level of resourcefulness will be viewed as advantageous. The candidate will ideally have broad skills in microbial cultivation (traditional and/or high-throughput), molecular biology and bioinformatics, and geochemistry, although all skills to geomicrobiology will be considered.

The successful candidate will be expected to participate in laboratory work and field trips in support of the research programme. This may include extended field work in remote areas of Antarctica. The candidate must have a willingness to undertake extended fieldwork in Antarctica, along with a high level of fitness and good health needed for working at high altitude sites.

Funding Notes

We are offering a stipend of NZD $27,000 per year (tax free) plus tuition fees for three years. Funding is also available to cover research project consumable costs. Note: the successful candidate will need to apply to enrol at the University of Canterbury and must meet UC’s entry criteria. International candidates will also need to meet the English language requirements and, once given an offer of place, arrange for a NZ student visa. Information on UC’s entry requirements for PhD study is here http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/enrol/doctoral/ . Note also that an offer of a scholarship and entry into the UC doctoral programme is conditional on current border and visa restrictions related to COVID-19 (see: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19/border-closures-and-exceptions)

Applicants please email [Email Address Removed] with your CV, including at least two academic referees, a statement of your research interests/cover letter and your university transcripts. Feel free to ask any questions you may have relating to this PhD project.

The Project is also advertisedd here: https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/postgraduate/phd-and-doctoral-study/find-a-project-or-supervisor/tabs/join-a-project/cultivating-extremophilic-microorganisms-from-the-mt-erebus-geothermal-system-on.html

Applications will are ongoing until a suitable candidate is found.

Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Matthew Stott (School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch), and Prof. Craig Cary (University of Waikato, Hamilton)

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