Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD- Microbial ecology in Jamaica 

Doctoral student position available (funded TA, teaching assistantship) 
 
Dr. Crystal N. Johnson is seeking 1 Ph.D. student interested in studying biogeochemical cycling, bacterial and fungal microbiomes, and hydrology in collaboration with Dr. Susan Koenig and scientists in the Cockpit Country area of northwest Jamaica.  
 
Methods will include metagenomics, real-time qPCR, bioinformatics, agarose gel electrophoresis, kit-based DNA extractions, and aseptic sample collections in the field. The project will include work in a BSL-2 laboratory, field work in Jamaica, and many computer hours. International travel between Baton Rouge, LA and Cockpit Country, Jamaica will be required of the student. 
 
Successful candidates will likely have a GPA of at least 3.0, prior lab and field experiences, and prerequisite courses, such as introductory statistics, chemistry, biology, and other natural sciences. Applicant must be mature, responsible, capable of thinking critically and working independently, meticulous, and tolerant of early mornings, some evenings, warm temperatures, and biting insects. Some field collections will occur on weekends.  
 
The individual must strictly adhere to established laboratory protocols. They must be meticulous, reliable, honest, trustworthy, and attentive to detail. Prior training, prior hands-on experience, and an interest in publishing a paper in a peer-reviewed journal are highly valued. Students with established connections to Jamaica are particularly invited to apply. 
 
The stipend is US$23,000 per 9 months, and summer months will be further funded based on the student’s research productivity. Tuition costs are covered by the department, but some fees are not.  
 
The student will spend an average of 20 hours/week on dissertation research in the Johnson Lab and 20 hours/week serving as a departmental teaching assistant (TA) in cooperation with LSU Online. TA duties will include assisting with existing courses, e.g., ENVS 1126, ENVS 2126, and other large-enrollment courses. TA duties will also include the development, administration, and delivery of novel ENVS courses and assessments, particularly leveling courses for new incoming students. 
 
Standardized tests are encouraged but not required. The most successful candidates will have GRE scores of at least 150 verbal and 150 quantitative. Preferred TOEFL scores for international students are at least 213 computer, 550 paper, or 80 internet-based.  
 
If interested, submit application materials to Dr. Johnson at cnjohnson@lsu.edu and to Dr. Koenig at windsor@cwjamaica.com with the number 2625748 in the subject line.  
 
Application materials may include unofficial transcripts, the contact information for 3 references, a personal statement, resume/CV, GRE scores, papers that include the applicant as an author, and other products that support the application. Successful semi-finalists will then be invited for a Zoom-based and/or face-to-face interview with Dr. Johnson and her collaborators on the project. More background information on Dr. Johnson can be found at https://www.lsu.edu/cce/about/cce-directories/faculty-profiles/johnson_crystal.php
 
After preliminary interviews and evaluation, the finalist will be invited to submit a formal application to the LSU Graduate School for the Department of Environmental Sciences. The teaching assistantship begins in Spring, Summer, or Fall of 2024. LSU is committed to diversity and is an equal opportunity / equal access employer.