The Environmental Microfluidics Group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at ETH Zurich is seeking a dynamic and motivated doctoral student for a project to study encounters between bacteria. Note: the position is contingent on funding from the SNSF Ambizione Grant for Dr. Jonasz Slomka (TBD August 2021).
Keywords: bacterial encounters, gene exchange between bacteria, bacterial aggregation, biophysics
Encounters between individual bacteria in space and time result from the complex motility patterns of bacteria, their response to cues and external mixing. Bacterial encounters mediate physical and ecological interactions between bacterial populations, such as aggregation and exchange of genetic information, and thus control global biogeochemical cycles, the evolution of life on Earth and the spread of drug resistance, a major emerging public health hazard. Bacterial encounters depend strongly on both organisms’ traits and external factors, yet approaches to date have drastically simplified them by treating them as collisions between inanimate particles. In this project, the PhD candidate will aim to develop experimental techniques to quantify accurately bacterial encounters. By combining video microscopy, microfluidics, experiments on mating bacterial cultures and simulators of turbulence, together with physical coagulation-fragmentation models, the PhD candidate will address questions such as: how do cell shape, stickiness and aggregate architecture control the size of bacterial aggregates? How fast can bacteria, through cell-cell contacts, exchange genetic information?
You will have the unique opportunity to learn, develop and apply a range of cutting-edge experimental and modeling techniques, including video microscopy and microfluidic technology, state-of-the-art image analysis, and computational modeling.
You will work in a highly interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, fast-paced research environment, interact with researchers from many different disciplines, gain skills in a number of technologies, learn about fundamental biophysical and ecological processes in microorganisms, and interact with world-class collaborators.
The position is contingent on funding from the SNSF Ambizione Grant (TBD August 2021). The student will be supervised directly by Dr. Jonasz Slomka and co-mentored by Prof. Romand Stocker and Prof. Sebastian Bonhoeffer.
You have a background in physics, engineering, or biology with a strong quantitative inclination and a desire to work experimentally at the interface between biophysics, microbiology and microbial ecology. The ability to work independently, but also to interact and collaborate within a team, will be great assets.
We look forward to receiving your online application including:
- full transcripts from undergraduate studies (both Bachelor and Masters),
- a brief (1-page) statement of research interests,
- at least 2 letters of reference.
Review of applications will begin on September 1, 2021, with the position to start as early as November 1, 2021, or as soon as filled.
For questions regarding the position, please contact Dr. Jonasz Slomka by email at email@example.com (no applications).