An NSF-funded postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Schaeffer (Department of Biology, Utah State University). Field work in support of the project will be conducted at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (Gothic, Colorado) in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Irwin (Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University).

This project will explore if and how microbes affect cooperation vs. conflict in species interactions using animal pollination of plants and the microbes that reside in floral nectar as a model system. The project will use a combination of field experiments and controlled behavioral observations among a community of wildflowers, floral visitors, and their microbes in the Rocky Mountains.

The main goals are to characterize (1) drivers of nectar microbial community structure; (2) how nectar microbes influence floral phenotypes and behaviors displayed by floral visitors; and (3) how microbes and visitor behaviors affect plant reproduction. The anticipated start date for this position is 4/1/23; however, the official start is negotiable.


Responsibilities include characterizing plant-microbe-pollinator interactions; chemical analyses of flowers and microbes; culture-dependent and -independent characterization of microbial diversity and function (e.g., amplicon sequencing); statistical analyses; and preparation of manuscripts for publication. There is also ample opportunity to design and implement additional projects of mutual interest.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in animal behavior, biology, ecology or some other related discipline

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with the collection and analysis of volatile organic compounds (e.g., GC/MS)
  • Experience with behavioral assays
  • Strong interest in chemical, microbial, and pollination ecology
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

Required Documents

Along with the online application, please attach:

  1. Resume to be uploaded at the beginning of your application in the Candidate Profile under “Resume/CV”
  2. Contact Information for Professional Reference
  3. Cover Letter to be uploaded at the beginning of your application in the Candidate Profile under “Documents 1-10”

**Document size may not exceed 10 MB.**

Advertised Salary

Minimum $50,000 commensurate with experience plus excellent benefits

Employees work indoors and are protected from weather and/or contaminants, but not, necessarily, occasional temperature changes.  The employee is regularly required to sit and often uses repetitive hand motions.

University Highlights

Utah State University (USU) was founded in 1888 and is Utah’s land-grant and space-grant university. USU is one of only 146 research institutions in the U.S. classified as R1 “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. As one of the two premier research institutions in Utah, USU provides a high-quality education at an affordable price. With its main campus in Logan, the university serves approximately 27,500 students, including 24,255 undergraduates and 3,171 graduate students. USU Online has served students from all 50 states and 55 countries for 25 years.

USU’s statewide system features three residential campuses, 30 total campus locations, and 23 Extension education centers. The university employees 903 full-time faculty members, 124 executive administrators, and 1,649 full-time support staff. USU offers 115 undergraduate majors, as well as 91 master’s and 42 doctoral degrees.

A core characteristic of USU is engagement with communities and people in economic development, improvements to quality of life, and human capital. Through the practical application of knowledge, the University and its faculty engage and share expertise with the state, nation, and world, preserving the historical land-grant tradition of partnering with communities to address critical societal issues in the interest of the public good.

The USU main campus is located in beautiful Logan, Utah, a city of about 50,000 situated in a picturesque mountain valley about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. Outstanding recreational opportunities abound in the nearby mountains and proximate region.

USU is sensitive to the needs of dual career couples and provides a Dual Career Assistance program to support careers for partners who are also seeking employment.

USU endeavors to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access in all aspects of employment to qualified persons with disabilities. To request a reasonable accommodation for a disability, please contact the university’s ADA Coordinator in the Human Resource office at 435-797-0122 or submit a request at

USU Land Acknowledgment

Please visit our website to learn about Utah State’s land acknowledgment of the eight tribes of Utah.

Notice of Non-discrimination

In its programs and activities, including in admissions and employment, Utah State University does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy, Title IX, or any other federal, state, or local law.

The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and its implementing regulations and/or USU’s non-discrimination policies:

Executive Director of the Office of Equity Matthew Pinner,, Distance Education Rm. 401, 435-797-1266

Title IX Coordinator Hilary Renshaw,, Distance Education Rm. 404, 435-797-1266

Mailing address: 5100 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322

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