Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD position in insect microbiome ecology at UT Arlington, Texas

An NSF-funded PhD position is available in Dr. Alison Ravenscrafts laboratory at the University of Texas at Arlington. Ravenscraft Lab (https://www.ravenscraftlab.com) focuses on ecological interactions between insects and their microbial symbionts. The available position will focus on the role of the caterpillar gut microbiota in the plant-insect chemical arms race. Start date is flexible but ideally will correspond with the start of the Spring 2024 or Fall 2024 semesters.

The idea that gut flora may assist insects in breaking down plant defenses has been often proposed, but rarely tested. The graduate student will join a team of collaborative researchers who are working together to ask whether, and how much, the insect gut flora help to detoxify an herbivorous diet. The research will involve a combination of field work, insect rearing experiments in the lab, microbial cultivation, and high-throughput metagenomics. The student will acquire highly desirable skills including microbial culture techniques, use of analytical chemistry equipment (HPLC, LCMS), and the generation and analysis of high-throughput sequencing datasets. The position is fully funded by a prestigious NSF grant, and the student will also benefit from three years of preliminary data and sample collection, including a library of hundreds of insect gut bacterial isolates.

We are a friendly and collegial department, and the student will have the opportunity to collaborate with other labs on campus that offer expertise in areas such as genomics and global change.

Interested students should send an email with their CV and a brief description of their research interests to Dr. Ravenscraft (alison.ravenscraft@uta.edu). Please include “caterpillar graduate position” in the subject line. Review of applications for spring entry will begin on Sep 1, 2023 and review for fall entry will begin on December 1, 2023.

About UTA:

UT Arlington is an R1-ranked research university, the second largest institution in the University of Texas system and one of the 10 fastest growing universities in the nation. We are a Hispanic-serving institution and rank #5 in the nation for ethnic diversity. Our doctoral program in Quantitative Biology focuses on training students to apply sophisticated quantitative techniques to solve research problems. This gives our graduates a competitive advantage for careers in industry, government, or academia. The Department (http://www.uta.edu/biology) offers access to numerous resources including state-of-the-art labs, an Animal Care Facility, a Genomics Core Facility, the North Texas Genomics Center, and the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies – a major partnership between UT Arlington and Shimadzu Scientific Instruments that offers extensive resources for imaging, proteomics and analytical chemistry.

About Arlington:

Arlington is situated in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, affording access to numerous restaurants, microbreweries, and entertainment opportunities (museums, theatre, music, sports). The city of Arlington alone has 82 public parks, including River Legacy Parks, a 1,300-acre oasis on the Trinity River in the heart of north Arlington. Arlington is the home of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the Texas Rangers Ballpark, and Six Flags Over Texas. Cost of living is relatively low for a major metropolitan area. More information on the city of Arlington can be found at (www.experiencearlington.org).

Qualifications: Fundamental requirements include

A bachelors degree or higher in Biology, Ecology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Bioinformatics, or a related field

Strong work ethic and independence

Excellent communication and teamwork skills

Excellent English writing and speaking ability.

Although not required, the preferred candidate will have prior research experience, programming experience (R or Python), and demonstrated scientific writing skills.