A post-doctoral position is available immediately in the Chauhan laboratory (http://www.ashvinichauhan.net/), at the School of the Environment (SOE), Florida A&M University (FAMU). The overall goal of this collaborative project between the FAMU team [Drs. Ashvini Chauhan (PI), Satyanarayana Dev (Co-PI), and Ashish Pathak (Co-PI] along with Dr. Xiaoyu Xu [Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s (SREL)], is to develop low-cost technologies for biomonitoring of ash pond associated heavy metals (HMs) and develop effective algal-based environmental rehabilitation and revitalization of impacted ecosystems at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS). HMs originating from coal combustion product (CCP) impoundments (also called ash ponds), have been a long-standing concern stemming from the release of coal combustion wastes in the 1970s, resulting in a contamination plume extending over 40 ha of floodplain. The long-term presence of HMs cause both, ecological and public health issues, especially to economically-disadvantaged and rural communities. To address this issue, the following five-pronged objectives will form the focal point of this project: 1(a) Conduct an extensive environmental diagnostic assessment of ash pond sites, relative to uncontaminated sites, by measuring total HM concentration and bioavailability using genetically engineered whole-cell bioreporters (WCBs); and 1(b) apply multivariate statistical analysis to identify “hotspots” of HMs in SRS ash pond sites needing remediation; 2(a) Conduct shotgun metagenomics-based environmental biomonitoring to identify the taxonomic composition and gene functions driven by the algal-cyanobacterial communities in sites with the highest HM contamination and apply statistical analysis [e.g., canonical correspondence analysis (CCA)] to determine correlations between HMs, bioavailability (using WCBs) and algal-cyanobacterial taxonomic abundances to develop an environmental health index (EHI) of ash pond sites; 3(a) Isolate algal-cyanobacterial taxa that form the predominant ‘core” microbiota from 2(a); 3(b) Screen isolates against a battery of site specific heavy metals, using environmentally relevant bioavailable concentrations measured using WCBs and confirm HM resistant/ hyperaccumulating isolates; 3(c) Conduct lab-controlled soil remediation studies using combinations of hyperaccumulating target algal-cyanobacterial strain(s) and HMs; 4) Populate machine learning and artificial intelligence models using data from objectives 1-3 to develop an iterative remediation strategy, taking into account environmental drivers and remediation bottlenecks; 5) Train undergraduate and graduate students using rigorously intertwined research and education activities.
Please respond by submitting a single PDF document containing a statement of interest (1-page max), CV and contact info of 3 professional referees via email to Dr. Chauhan (firstname.lastname@example.org). The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated track-record of peer-reviewed publications, grantsmanship and be a team-player as well as self-motivated to conduct research and train students, many from minority groups that remain underrepresented in STEM disciplines. S/he should possess ‘hands-on’ experience on digital droplet qPCR (ddQPCR), Illumina/nanopore sequencing of 16S/ 18S/ ITS gene-based metagenomics, shotgun metagenomics, bioinformatics and statistical analysis of obtained data using R or a similar package. Salary will be commensurate with experience and the position will be initially funded for one year with extension dependent on funding availability and performance. Applications will be reviewed as received and the position will remain open until filled.