About the Project
You’ll be a Doctoral Student in the Carini Lab investigating the mechanisms of how diverse soil bacteria survive desiccation and rewetting. Translation of your research may lead to the development of technologies to identify ecosystems approaching transition states or measure how agricultural practices focused on reducing irrigation will affect the physiology of microbes that regulate soil fertility. Additionally, your research could lead to designer microbial inoculants with increased shelf-stability or in-field success rates in dryland or drought-affected agricultural systems.
Your dissertation work will be part classic bacteriology (culturing, physiology, flow cytometry), part molecular biology (nucleic acid extractions, in vitro transcription, (q)PCR)), part data analysis (Illumina sequence data, modeling, statistical analysis of transcriptomes). Thus, you’ll develop a broad mix of microbiology expertise. You can expect to grow in your lab skill toolbox, versatility, and ability to think about complex data. You can expect to have input on where the experiments go. You can expect us to be an inclusive group who’ll support you in your growth, rise to challenges with you, and grow alongside you. You’ll culture dryland soil microbes that we previously isolated and measure their desiccation tolerance. You’ll use molecular tools including qPCR and transcriptomics to investigate how bacteria respond to desiccation. As a student in our research group, we will invest in developing you as a mentor. In your time with us, you’ll have numerous opportunities to develop your own mentorship voice by selecting and mentoring undergraduate researchers, including students from groups that are underrepresented in the sciences, to work alongside you in the lab or virtually.
Entering a doctoral program can be daunting! At first, you’ll balance the need to succeed in your graduate level coursework with the requirement to conduct laboratory research (in equal amounts)—this is a full-time job! After your preliminary exam, you’ll transition to mostly lab research. You’ll have opportunities to bolster skills by attending workshops and conferences. But you won’t have to do it all—heroics aren’t necessary! Yes, we want to be proud of teaching you how to produce top-notch science, but we also want to be kind, considerate, fair, flexible, and calm. We care about how you develop as a scientist and as a person. To that end, we use science-based, intentional, and culturally sensitive mentoring approaches to help you develop your vision for your career and a unique path to lead you there. This includes biannual review guided by your individual development plan, including assessment of your professional goals and discussion of your growth toward them.
We expect about 20 hours of work per week to be dedicated to your dissertation research most of the time (though there are exceptions where more hours may be necessary, they are rare). The remainder of your time (about 20 additional hours per week) should be dedicated to scholarship in your classes and developing your scientific skills in other ways. We want you to have a sustainable, healthy relationship with your research and education and will work with you to determine how you can best do that. You can expect a mindful ramp-up period with time to learn. You can expect a team and mentor that listens. You can expect to give and receive direct feedback. You can expect to be counted on, and you can count on us.
Here are some examples of the work we’ve led or been involved in recently that might help give you a better idea of the kind of work we do. This is a glimpse of our past research. Your experience and background will add to this in the future, and we’ll be better for it! We have a lot to discover and we’re eager to do it with you.
You’ll have an idea of your vision for your career, even if it needs a bit of refining. You might have some untapped potential for a similar breadth and depth of work to what we’ve done in the past. Or you might already be proficient in the type of science we do. Ideally, you’ll have about 2 years of undergraduate or postgraduate research experience in microbiology (or a related biological field) with an emphasis on molecular biology, preferably RNA extraction and computational transcriptome analysis. However, we realize that you won’t be able to answer every question or know how all the experiments work on day one—and we don’t expect you to. Ultimately, we are looking for someone with solid scientific fundamentals rooted in excellent written and verbal communication with a commitment to learning and independent problem solving. The ability to communicate clearly and a strong track record of meticulous, considerate work speaks volumes.
Research shows that the highest impact science occurs when people from varied backgrounds come together to solve problems. This means we want a diverse team built from different backgrounds, experiences, and identities—including yours. We put in the work that goes into maintaining an inclusive, supportive place for you to do your best work. If you identify as belonging to a group that is historically excluded in scientific fields (including, but not limited to Hispanic, Latinx, Indigenous, Black, Neurodiverse, LBGTQ+, or non-traditional): you are welcome here and we’d love to see your application. We encourage all applicants to address how they have contributed to promoting diversity in the sciences (or other settings) in their applications.
Graduate Student Pay
This is a 0.5 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Graduate Research Assistant position with an annual salary of ~$36,000. You will receive graduate tuition remission, which means we pay your graduate school tuition for you.
We want you to lead an emotionally and physically healthy life outside of work. That means sometimes work can wait! The position is based out of Tucson, Arizona—a unique location in a unique ecosystem. In the winter months, the desert floor offers ample opportunity for an active, outdoor lifestyle. In the summer months, the area boasts access to numerous mountain ranges to hike, climb, camp, or bike. If you want to stay indoors, Tucson is home to numerous museums, including the Tucson Museum of Art, the Children’s museum, and the Pima Air and Space Museum. Finally, when you get hungry, you’ll be in one of UNESCO’s Cities of Gastronomy.
How to apply
We accept students through graduate admissions in the Department of Environmental Science, the Genetics Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, The School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Science, or through Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences (ABBS) which allows for admission to the School of Plant Science, or Molecular and Cellular Biology. Each department has their own curriculum requirements, deadlines, and application process. ABBS students can conduct rotations in several labs before identifying their dissertation home. We will accept rotation students in the 2022/2023 academic year if that’s something you’re interested in.
Regardless of which program you choose, please state in your application that you are interested in working with the Carini lab. Please be sure to highlight the ways in which you contribute to diversity in the sciences. And please be sure to tell us some of the reasons why you’re excited to work with us. You’ll be evaluated using our in-house evaluation criteria, potentially in addition to department-specific evaluation criteria.
Reach out directly to Dr. Paul Carini (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about the project, which program to apply to, or the process, we’re happy to help you get your application to us.
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