Opportunities: Aggregation and Degradation of Dispersants and Oil by Microbial Exopolymers (ADDOMEx)

job_picThe explosion of the Deepwater Horizon (DwH) drilling rig in the northern Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 released ~ 4.1 million barrels of oil over 84 days with an estimated 60% of this reaching the sea surface.

While it is known that weathering and hydrodynamic forces affect both the distribution and properties of the oil released, and that opportunistic microbes play an important role in its degradation, there are few studies examining the interactions between oil, microbes (phytoplankton, bacteria) and their exudates. This proposal brings together a group uniquely qualified to study the molecular-level chemistry of sparingly-soluble substances in complex systems and the associated microbial communities.

The Vision of the Consortium is to understand how the presence of hydrocarbons trigger production of exopolymeric substances (EPS) that may protect organisms from the oil, emulsify the oil, or both, therefore altering its degradation.   The interaction among EPS, oils and the local environmental factors plays a critical role in determining the fate of oil (e.g., degradation, dispersion or sedimentation) from oil spills. The Mission of this program is to develop a process-based understanding of the role that EPS, micro-gels, and transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) play in the fate of oil (e.g., degradation, dispersion or sedimentation) and, in addition, how the dispersant Corexit affects these processes.

We are seeking people to fill the following positions. Please contact the person associated with each position directly for additional information on requirements, starting time and other details:

Postdoctoral research associates (2)

ADDOMEx, a recently funded program, seeks a Postdoctoral research associate to help with all aspects of laboratory work examining the fate and transport of oil and dispersant materials to phytoplankton. The person will be responsible for making media, growing cultures, running specific analyses to identify impact on phytoplankton, working up the data and assisting with writing reports, papers and doing presentations. Skills of seeked specifically are growing algal cultures, ecophysiological experiments and manipulations, preparation of materials for omnic type analysis. Experience with writing reports, papers and doing presentations essential.

Location: TAMUG (www.tamug.edu/phytoplankton)

Main advisors: Antonietta Quigg (quigga@tamug.edu) and Zoe Finkel (zfinkel@mta.ca)

Research Assistant

ADDOMEx, a recently funded program, seeks a research assistant to help with all aspects of laboratory work examining the fate and transport of oil and dispersant materials to phytoplankton. The person will be responsible for making media, growing cultures, running specific analyses to identify impact on phytoplankton, working up the data and assisting with writing reports, papers and doing presentations. Skills of seeked specifically are experience operating flow cytometers and growing algal cultures. Experience with writing reports and doing presentations benfical but not required.

Location: TAMUG (www.tamug.edu/phytoplankton)

Main advisor: Antonietta Quigg (quigga@tamug.edu)

Program assistant

ADDOMEx, a recently funded program, seeks a program assistant to coodinate and organize all major project findings (presentations, manuscripts, outreach materials, etc.) and make them available to the community (scientists, agencies, stakeholders) on as close to a real time basis as possible. The consortia director (Quigg) will work with the program assitant to prepare a dedicated webpage on the TAMUG server for the program. The program assitant will also work with Texas Sea Grant to as part of their ongoing outreach and extension efforts. This includes preparing flyers, doing presentations to K-12 and other community groups, and adhoc activities as they arise. The program assitant will work with the network of outreach staff at GOMRI to ensure activities are embedded in the overall program.

Location: TAMUG (www.tamug.edu/phytoplankton)

Main advisor: Antonietta Quigg (quigga@tamug.edu)

Postdoctoral research associate

The main project is to utilize microfludic designs to investigate the impact of oil and dispersants on marine microbial community, including their individual physiological responses, community evolution or species competition.  In addition, various environmental factors that influence EPS and oil/dispersant interactions will be studies with confocal microscopy, flow cytomter, atomic force microscopy and dynamic laser scattering.   Microbiology or microfluidics experience is preferred, but not required. 

Location: University of California – Merced (www.tamug.edu/phytoplankton)

Main advisor: Wei-Chun Chin wchin2@ucmerced.edu