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Postdoctoral Researcher

Requisition Number: 
Plant Science
Job Status: 
We are hiring a postdoctoral research associate for three years to lead the bioinformatics and genome sequencing efforts of an NSF-funded, Phylogenetic Systematics grant titled “Unlocking the evolutionary history of Schiedea (carnation family, Caryophyllaceae): rapid radiation of an endemic plant genus in the Hawaiian Islands.” This project integrates fieldwork, genome sequencing, phylogenomics, and population genetics to reconstruct the evolution of breeding system diversity in the Hawaiian Islands endemic genus Schiedea.

This project is a collaboration among Norman Wickett (Chicago Botanic Garden), Ann Sakai and Steve Weller (UC Irvine), Michael Moore (Oberlin), and Warren Wagner (National Tropical Botanical Garden and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History). The postdoc will be based at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where the genome sequencing efforts and, along with Oberlin, the phylogenomic analyses will be based. Because this project is a collaboration between different types of institutions (museum, botanic garden, small liberal arts College, research university/R1), there are unique opportunities for the postdoc to experience research, mentoring, and teaching in different environments.

Duties and Responsibilities: 


In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Coordinate the sequencing, assembly, and annotation of three Schiedea genomes
  • Analyze genome content and structure associated with the diversification of Schiedea
  • Reconstruct evolutionary relationships of Schiedea using a phylogenomic approach
  • Reconstruct breeding system evolution and instances of ancient hybridization
  • Participate in fieldwork (up to one month per year) in the Hawaiian Islands
  • Lead publications arising from the grant
  • Develop new bioinformatics tools, if necessary
  • Mentor undergraduate students (teaching and curriculum development opportunities will be offered through the Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation, associated with Northwestern University)

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired

  • Communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style; builds alliances.
  • Has a tolerance for opposing points of view.
  • Strives for collaboration. Works cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and shows kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Makes decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; is flexible, and embraces change with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Is self-aware; knows personal strengths and weaknesses; seeks feedback and is open to negative feedback as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Is cool under pressure; can be counted on to hold things together during tough times; can handle stress; is not knocked off balance by the unexpected; is a settling influence during a crisis.
  • Recognizes problems, constructively identifies and articulates solutions.
  • Picks up garbage when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Is welcoming of new hires.

Our ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Ph.D. in botany, evolutionary biology, ecology, or a related field
  • Experience with bioinformatics, preferably in the area of genome assembly and annotation
  • Experience with phylogenetics, preferably using phylogenomics-style data sets (hundreds to thousands of nuclear genes)
  • Be comfortable working in rugged environments
Physical Demands: 
This position will be based at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The majority of time for this position will be spent analyzing data. However, there are opportunities (encouraged) for fieldwork associated with this project. The fieldwork in the Hawaiian Islands can be rugged and may involve hiking in steep mountains, slippery and muddy trails, significant rain, narrow trails, and mosquitoes.
Why Apply?: 

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call (847) 835-8264 to contact our Title IX coordinator should you have questions or concerns.