Post Doc on Global Ecology of Crop Mutualists 2016-11-18T13:25:23+00:00

Post Doc on Global Ecology of Crop Mutualists


Postdoctoral Research Associate

Working Title

Post Doc on Global Ecology of Crop Mutualists

Work Location

Lab of Rob Dunn, David Clark Labs, Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University


In potential collaboration with Michelle Trautwein (California Academy of Sciences), Noah Fierer (University of Colorado, Boulder), Steve Frank (Entomology, NCSU), Margarita López-Uribe (Pennsylvania State University), Colin Khoury (CGIAR), Matt Fitzpatrick (University of Maryland) and Tom Gilbert (University of Copenhagen).

Essential Job Duties

To a great extent the history of agriculture is one of escape. Crops were moved from the regions in which they were domesticated and, when this occurred, they escaped their pests and pathogens (many of which are now catching back up). In addition, however, it is likely that in many cases crops also escaped their mutualists. Surprisingly little is known about the mutualist partners of our major crops and their wild relatives. The wild relatives of cacao, for instance, have been speculated to be pollinated by a bee, but if this is the case the bee species responsible has yet to be found. Such is our ignorance. In this postdoc the candidate would consider diverse aspects of the mutualists of crops at a global scale. One component of the project will be to document the shifts in species associated with crops (be they pests, pathogens or mutualists) as crops have spread globally. This component will build on skills and insights from macrecology and global ecology. One component of the project will be to study, based on field samples, the mutualists associated with key crop species in their native and introduced ranges (e.g., the endophytes and root associated microbes of squash plants in Mesoamerica compared to those in China). Finally, a third component will be to explore in greater detail the history of mutualism in a particular crop species, one that can also be studied in classroom gardens as part of our initiative.

Work in the Dunn lab also involves science writing, art and public engagement. Projects in the lab include, for example, an art project focused on considering the life forms that might be found in other galaxies, studies of the ecology of showerheads and sourdough, forensics, caviar biology, the natural history of salt shakers, the movement of domestic cats, and a large effort at engaging middle school, high school and university students in doing real science through citizen science.

Length of Appointment

Application process opens soon with the hope that the candidate will begin in the fall. Applications will be accepted until a suitable candidate is found. Position appointment will last for one year from starting date, with possibility of renewal for additional years based on performance and funding.

Minimum Experience Education

Ph.D. (awarded by start date) in ecology, evolution, biology, entomology, microbiology, or related fields at the time of employment. The applicant’s CV should indicate evidence of strong scholarship, including peer-reviewed publications and/or science writing for the public.

Preferred Experience, Skills, & Training

Expertise in ecology and evolution and in addressing questions in a clear hypothesis testing framework is desired. A background in genetics, history or literature is also of potential value, depending on the direction of the project. The candidate should be curious.

The applicant’s CV should indicate evidence of strong scholarship, including peer-reviewed publications and, where applicable, science writing, public engagement or art. The successful candidate must be able to interact with a diverse group of researchers and students and benefit from new and established intra- and inter-institution collaborations. The candidate should show strong evidence of the ability to finish projects. Experience working with in underserved communities and with students from underrepresented groups is also of great value to the project and the lab.

Application Procedure

Once this job has formally posted at the NCSU website submit a CV, cover letter, project proposal, names and email addresses of three references. Until that point, please submit a cover letter, CV, and short project proposal to Rob Dunn (


North Carolina State University is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, regardless race, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, or disability status. The more reflective of society’s diversity the university and lab are, the better we are. Individuals with disabilities desiring accommodations in the application process should contact Rob Dunn (