Job Opportunities


Job Opportunities

Field and Laboratory Research Specialist

Duties and Responsibilities: Field and Lab Research (75%), Research Administration (25%)

Investigate microbial ecology related to nitrogen cycling in maize and bioenergy crops; collect and process soil samples for DNA sequencing and microbial activity assays. Collect plant, soil, and rhizosphere samples for microbial analysis and laboratory experiments. Organize and process soil samples by extracting DNA; submit samples for DNA sequencing and qPCR; prepare reagents; conduct microbial activity assays. Supervise undergraduate students assisting with this project including training and assigning work and track work performance and deliverables. Purchase and receive chemicals and scientific supplies related to this project. Assist with data compilation, project reports, data analysis, and manuscript preparation.


Required: A bachelor’s degree in biology, environmental science, or related field is required. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on depth and breadth of experience and skills as related to this position.


Required: Research experience in the laboratory and/or field. Experience carrying out statistical analyses in the R statistical environment; experience with data management and database software such as FileMaker Pro.

Required licenses and certifications: 

Valid U.S. driver’s license required to drive to field research sites.

Salary and Status: 

$38,000 to $42,000 per year commensurate with skills and experience.  Full-time academic professional. Qualified individuals will be eligible to receive vacation, sick, and personal leave; retirement through the State Universities Retirement System; and group health, dental, vision and life insurance.

To Apply:

Applications must be received by June 24, 2022. To apply, all candidates must submit an online profile through by the close of the posting period. Qualified candidates must upload a letter of which details qualifications noted above, resume and

the names and contact information of three professional references. All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Interviews may be conducted prior to the closing date; however, no hire will be made until after all applicant materials submitted by the deadline have been reviewed. For further information, please contact Erica Hanson, Human Resources,

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Opportunity:  Are you as excited about plant microbiomes as we are? We are seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral research associate with experience in microbiome analyses, plant genetics, and biogeochemical cycling to join our team. Our research program focuses on understanding how the plant microbiome and its functions are an extended phenotype of the plant genome. Our exciting interdisciplinary research program is seeking to breed crops that can inhibit unsustainable nitrogen cycling processes, and promote sustainable nutrient-provisioning strategies. We work with colleagues across the university with expertise in crop breeding and physiology, agronomy, and biogeochemistry. In addition, we are engaged with industry partners who are promoting microbiome solutions for sustainable crop production. Our work is funded by USDA-NIFA, Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council, and the US Department of Energy. 

The successful candidate will participate in work to identify the genomic and biochemical basis underlying biological inhibition of nitrification and denitrification in maize, and will participate in work to determine the impact of these phenotypes on ecosystem nitrogen cycling. This position is ideal for researchers with familiarity with microbiome analyses and plant breeding and genomics (with an emphasis in either field). Knowledge in plant genetics, physiology, and metabolism is desirable. 

This work requires excellent interpersonal and communication skills in English as well as excellent writing skills as demonstrated by a strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals. Recent graduates are encouraged to apply. 


Required: A PhD. in crop science, environmental science, microbiology, or related field is required. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the relatedness to this position.


Applicants must have earned a doctorate in crop science, microbiology, environmental science, or a related field, within the past five years or have proof of completion by July 31, 2022. Evidence of scholarly activity/potential is required, specifically research and publications related to crop breeding or plant microbiomes. 

Preferred Experience:

    • Research experience in the field related to microbial ecology, plant microbiomes, or crop science.
    • Expertise in bioinformatics workflows and statistical analyses typical for microbial ecology.

Salary and Appointment: 

This 12-month appointment has a preferred start date of July 16, 2022 (or sooner), and is renewed on an annual basis. 

The salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and relevant research.

To Apply:

Please email your resume, cover letter, and contact information for three references to Dr. Angela Kent at 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as an individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran. Salary will be competitive and includes benefits.

Application review will continue until a suitable candidate is identified. Start date is flexible.

Selected publications related to this position:

Favela, A., M. O. Bohn & A.D. Kent. 2021. Maize germplasm chronosequence shows crop breeding history impacts recruitment of the rhizosphere microbiome. ISME J 15, 2454–2464.

Favela, A., M. O. Bohn & A.D. Kent. 2022. N-cycling microbiome recruitment differences between modern and wild Zea mays. Phytobiomes Journal, in press. 

Klimasmith, I.M., A.D. Kent. 2022. Micromanaging the nitrogen cycle in agroecosystems. Trends in Microbiology, in press.