Postdoc Funded Position in Chemical Ecology and Coevolution Between Milkweeds and their Insect Herbivores at Cornell University: The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is a pioneer of purpose-driven science and home to Cornell University’s second largest population of students, faculty and staff.

We work across disciplines to tackle the challenges of our time through world-renowned research, education and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy and environmental resources; and social, physical and economic well-being.  CALS is fundamentally invested in improving the lives of people, their environments and their communities both in New York state and around the world.

Position Function       

This grant-supported postdoctoral position involves primary research and related professional activities associated with an NSF grant on the chemical ecology of interactions between plants and their specialized herbivorous insects. The position involves laboratory-based research and field work on the interactions between specific toxins present in milkweed plants and their impact on insects. This position requires an experienced scientist to use experimental methods in plant and insect ecology, chemical analysis, and evolutionary biology. This is a one-year position, renewable for one additional year depending on performance. 

Anticipated Division of Time

The role of the Postdoctoral Associate is 100% research.  The job is to engage in innovative research related to the NSF grant on chemical ecology.  This will be broken down roughly as follows.

Conducting experiments (~40%) Run research project isolating plant toxins and dosing them through feeding assays, injections, and in vitro enzymatic assays on insects, manipulating phytochemical composition. Experiments to be conducted in laboratory and to complement whole-organism assays in field experiments.

Laboratory sample processing (~10%) Coordinate the preparation and assay of samples, and the extraction and isolation of toxin samples collected during the project.

Data analysis (~20%) Work with PI and collaborators to develop and implement analyses of the physiological, behavioral, and fitness data collected during the project.

Student mentoring (~5%) Mentor undergraduate and graduate students involved in both field and laboratory research related to the project.

Developing leadership in and publishing products on the research funded by NSF (~25%) Provide intellectual leadership in conceptualizing hypotheses about coevolution and specificity of interactions and developing new capabilities within the lab to address those questions. Draft and submit multiple manuscripts for publication in top-level peer-reviewed scientific journals; present results at professional meetings, conferences, and popular seminars. Engage in ongoing academic and intellectual life within relevant scientific programs at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and other relevant units on campus.


  •       Ph.D. in biology with specific concentration in chemical ecology or related areas in plant and insect ecology is required 
  •   Record of high-quality publications

Supervision Exercised

The postdoc will supervise undergraduate research students.

Salary: commensurate with experience

Application Instructions:

Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We’re an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations.

Employment Assistance: If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University’s Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at voice (607) 255-3976, fax (607) 255-7481, or email at For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting. Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor.

You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application. Notice to Applicants: Please read the required Notice to Applicants statement by clicking here. This notice contains important information about applying for a position at Cornell as well as some of your rights and responsibilities as an applicant. EEO Statement: Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage.

We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

Interested applicants should submit a CV, cover letter (including research interests), contact information for 3 references and a statement of contribution to diversity, equity, and inclusion via Online at the following link:  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a candidate is selected or the application deadline of September 1st, 2022.

Application Materials Required:

Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Diversity Statement
  • Three references (actual letters acceptable but not required, just names and email addresses )

And anything else requested in the position description.

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