Postdoctoral opening in my group!

Job Posting for Postdoctoral Research Associate – Microbial Community Ecology / NB50510845

The Biosciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory ( is seeking a postdoctoral researcher in the area of microbial ecology. The selected candidate will join an international team of investigators focused on understanding ecology of microbial communities as well as their responses to various anthropogenically induced changes (climate, contaminants, land use, etc) in multiple systems. The available project position will focus on understanding community structure and function of microbes associated with Populus tree species as driven by host genotypic and environmental factors [more at: ) Research is facilitated by a full range of state-of-the-art equipment/facilities for microbiology, molecular biology, and genomics, in a professional environment with excellent technical support.

Major Duties/Responsibilities: Design, conduct and interpret laboratory and field based research; lead and contribute to the development of scientific manuscripts and proposals. Research is facilitated by a full range of state-of-the-art equipment/facilities for microbiology, molecular biology, and genomics, in a professional environment with excellent technical support.

Qualifications Required: Ph.D. degree in microbiology, ecology, molecular biology, or related fields. Applicant should have demonstrated expertise in both modern molecular ecology methods such as quantitative PCR, DNA sequence analyses, as well as working with the informatics tools for microbiome and metagenomics studies. Demonstrated expertise must include a track record of primary contributions to peer-reviewed publications.

Qualifications Preferred: Priority will be given to applicants with a successful history of interdisciplinary, integrative, and innovative research in this area. Familiarity with software tools for next generation DNA sequence analysis of rRNA and metagenomic microbial datasets as well as the ability to program and script in R, Python or Perl to customize such analyses would also be preferred.

Applicants cannot have received the most recent degree more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment.

Interested applicants should apply directly through the ORNL carreers website.  Applications can not be accepted through email or any other means.

Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications!

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science is pleased to announce that the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications for the 2015 solicitation.  Applications are due 5:00pm ET on Tuesday April 14, 2015.

The SCGSR program supports supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE national laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist for a period of 3 to 12 consecutive months-with the goal of preparing graduate students for scientific and technical careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.

The SCGSR program is open to current Ph.D. students in qualified graduate programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions, who are conducting their graduate thesis research in targeted areas of importance to the DOE Office of Science. The research opportunity is expected to advance the graduate students’ overall doctoral thesis while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories. The supplemental award provides for additional, incremental costs for living and travel expenses directly associated with conducting the SCGSR research project at the DOE host laboratory during the award period.

The Office of Science expects to make approximately 100 awards in 2015, for project periods beginning anytime between October 2015 and September 2016.

The 2014 program solicitation resulted in awards to 65 graduate students from 50 different universities to conduct thesis research at 15 DOE national laboratories. Detailed information about the program, including eligibility requirements and access to the online application system, can be found at:
The SCGSR program is sponsored and managed by the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), in collaboration with the six Office of Science research programs offices and the DOE national laboratories, and the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE).
For any questions, please contact the SCGSR Program Manager, Dr. Ping Ge, at <>.

New Position in my lab for a PostMasters or PostBachelors Research Associate

I have a new position just posted for work in my lab through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education (ORISE)!  Please see details and apply through this link (  NO EMAIL APPLICATION MATERIALS CAN BE ACCEPTED. However, if you have questions about the position or the research/work it will entail after reading the advertisement and looking over the linked projects, please feel free to email me (schadtcw at

— UPDATE — Jan 12th, 2015 —

The Post-Bachelors position has been filled, the Post-Masters position is still open!

Two new faculty positions open at UTK-EEB!

Two new faculty are being recruited for positions at the assistant professor level at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department (EEB)!

Position 1: Field botanist and herbarium director (

Position 2: Ecologist – any area (

Some photos and info on our recent field work sampling Populus trees here in East Tennessee.

We completed field work during the week of August 11th, for a new study  to create a “microbiome atlas” of symbiotic associations in Populus as part of our Plant-Microbe Interfaces project at ORNL.  We partnered locally this time to sample trees in Blount County, Tennessee that are part of a field trial run by the UTIA Center for Renewable Carbon and Dr. Tim Rials. Due to the large sample sizes required for our new metagenomics approaches, and the fact that we needed to dissect out many different tissues, this was a large effort and required bringing in some help and power equipment from experts at Wolf Tree Company.

While there have been numerous studies of the microbial associations of individual plant environments (e.g. the rhizosphere, phylosphere or endosphere) very few have simultaneously examined variation across habitats of the plant as a whole. Simultaneous examination should allow us to better understand microbial the niche specialization and niche overlap of symbiotic partners across the overall tree environment. This will allow us to build an “atlas” of the microbial interactors with Populus trees and better links to their potential functions across Populus. The sampling strategy employed will enable us to comprehensively survey rRNA based microbial diversity across approximately 30 different tissue level habitats in Populus. These were sampled accross different locations within individual trees, between five replicate clonal trees, and across two contrasting genotypes (P. deltoides and P. deltoides X trichocarpa hybrids). Selected plant habitats are also to be examined using metagenome DNA sequencing that will include soils, rhizospheres, root endospheres, heartwood, and leaves that are replicated from samples pooled across the individual trees. Samples are also being used for culture isolations and single cell genomics of targeted microbial species (ectomycorrhizae, Atractiella, Acenitobacter, etc.). 

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First ever non-science publication!

A few months ago, on a bit of a whim, I submitted a little piece of creative/experiential writing I did for publication in the Belle Reve Literary Journal. After over 70 science publications that involved coauthors, peer-reviewers as well as numerous rejections, re-writes and revisions, I was pleasantly surprised when two days later I got a simple email from the editor saying they wanted to publish it in their summer issue! Anyway, here is a link to the journal issue containing my first ever non-science publication!

New postdoc position opening in my lab this summer on Populus microbiome work!

I have a new postdoc position available by the end of August or perhaps earlier if the right person can be found!  Please email directly if you have technical questions about the position.  Otherwise “official” applications will be accepted only via the RECRUITING.ORNL.GOV website.


Photos from our field trip to sample cottonwood cuttings on the Caney Fork River last month

Field trip for sampling cottonwood cuttings on the Caney Fork River last month

Thought I would post some photos of the first field work outing of the year. We were out on the Caney Fork River in Central Tennessee where we have done several studies in the last few years. Primary objective was to obtain cuttings of trees for some upcoming greenhouse experiments. Secondary objective was to play with the “big shot” which is the giant sling shot we used to get lines over the tall limbs to bring them down to get the cuttings. Both were a success!

New Lab Members – People page has been updated!

In the last month we have welcomed both Cyd Hamilton and Laurel Kluber into our group at ORNL.  Cyd is a Visiting Scientist and ORISE Fellow working with us on plant fungal interactions on the PMI Project.  Laurel Kluber is a Postdoctoral Associate working with us on the SPRUCE project as well as our Soil Carbon Cycle Modeling collaborative projects with ESD staff scientists Melanie Mayes and Gangsheng Wang.  Check out the updates on the “People” page!

Three new in press papers on microbial and geochemical characterization of the peatland ecosystem at the future SPRUCE site

Here are links to three new accepted papers that are just out online.  These papers represent some of the first of our hopefully continued fruitful efforts to characterize the peatland SPRUCE site characteristics prior to the onset of warming treatments next year.  These come from core support of the SPRUCE project itself as well as an additional DOE funded effort led by my long-time collaborator Joel Kostka at Georgia Tech and of course the hard work of several fabulous students and postdocs!

Lin et al. Microbial metabolic potential for carbon degradation and nutrient acquisition (N, P) in an ombrotrophic peatland. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, In Press.

Lin et al. Microbial community stratification linked to the utilization of carbohydrates and phosphorus limitation in a boreal peatland at Marcell Experimental Forest. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, In Press.

Tfaily et al. Organic Matter Transformation in the Peat Column at Marcell Experimental Forest: Humification and Vertical Stratification. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, In Press.


It has been some time since I posted on the blog and I hope this will be one of several upcoming updates on projects, papers and personnel!