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Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Extremophile Research

Location

US Air Force Academy, Life Sciences Research Center

RO# Location
13.04.05.B8432 US Air Force Academy, CO 808406200

Advisers

Name E-mail Phone
Veverka, Donald Victor don.veverka@usafa.edu 719.333.9670

Description

The Life Sciences Research Center’s (LSRC) primary mission is to support the Air Force’s research programs at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) through faculty and cadet research efforts.  The LSRC within the Department of Biology at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) is seeking research partnerships to investigate the unique properties of microbial photosynthetic extremophiles, algae or cyanobacteria (generally within marine environments), that are thermophilic, psychrophilic, acidophilic, or desiccation tolerant, etc. and to develop novel genetic engineering systems for these organisms.  

Applications are encouraged from individuals with a background in phycology, microbiology, biochemistry, extremophile physiology, electrochemistry, DNA sequence analysis, bioinformatic platforms or genetic engineering, and experience with thermophiles, psychrophiles, microbial fuel cells (MFCs), desiccation tolerant organisms including desert crust microbiota, isolation and identification of photosynthetic microorganisms, and developing methods for exogenous protein expression in algae or cyanobacteria.   Researchers must provide leadership for a team of laboratory technicians and students, produce publications, reports and other materials to disseminate research results, assist other partner scientists, and have a good working knowledge of laboratory analytical equipment.  LSRC equipment includes illuminated incubators, shakers, a walk-in growth chamber, spectrophotometers, flow cytometer, GC-FID, TOC analyzer, microbial fuel cells, multimeters and potentiostats, bioreactor, electroporator, PCR, including real-time PCR equipment, MPLC, DNA and protein gel apparatuses, inverted fluorescent and dissection microscopes, centrifuges, clean benches and potential access to additional equipment through interdepartmental collaboration. Ultimately, the center is focused on discovering and understanding basic natural mechanisms used by photosynthetic microorganisms to transfer energy and survive in extreme environments, and on developing methods to make them tractable to genetic manipulation.  Comparing the genetic basis of these mechanisms across different species and/or environments may reveal potential foci for genetic engineering of designer organisms with increased growth tolerances and/or metabolic efficiency. These research thrusts have applications for the U.S. Air Force ranging from protein stability under harsh conditions to energy transfer across biotic/abiotic interfaces to development of biosensors for threat detection and mitigation. 

References

Hallenbeck PC, et al: Draft Genome Sequence of a Thermophilic Cyanobacterium from the Family Oscillatoriales (Strain MTP1) from the Chalk River, Colorado. American Society of Microbiology, January/February 2016. 4:e01571-15; doi:10.1128/genomeA.01571-15. 

Hallenbeck PC, et al: Draft Genome Sequence of the Photoheterotrophic Chloracidobacterium thermophilum Strain OC1 Found in a Mat at Ojo Caliente. American Society of Microbiology, January/February 2016. 4e01570-15; doi:10.1128/genomeA.01570-15. 

Hallenbeck PC, et al: Recent Advances in Microbial Electrocatalysis. Electrocatalysis, April 2014. doi:10.1007/s12678-014-0198-x, 2015

Keywords:
Extremophiles; Photosynthetic algae/cyanobacteria; Desert crust microbiota; Microbial fuel cells

Eligibility

Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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