The Bik Lab at the University of Georgia is recruiting three PhD students for entry in Fall 2024. Each position has at least three years of guaranteed funding through multiple National Science Foundation grants (including an NSF CAREER award). The three available PhD projects are as follows:

1. Antarctic marine nematode taxonomy and phylogenomics. This project will evaluate evolutionary relationships between Antarctic meiofauna and marine nematode fauna in other ocean basins, with an emphasis on comparisons between deep-sea vs. shallow-water phylogenetic lineages. Work will use integrated morphological and molecular techniques (DNA barcoding, -Omics sequencing) to identify putatively cosmopolitan nematode taxa, endemic Antarctic lineages, and cryptic species complexes.

Prospective applicants should have a Master’s degree in Nematology or equivalent practical experience with microscopy identifications of free-living marine nematodes. International applicants with nematode taxonomy skills are especially encouraged to apply.

2. Advancing eDNA metabarcoding surveys of marine ecosystems. This project will involve work with two interdisciplinary teams focused on the development of autonomous underwater platforms for eDNA surveys, focused on pelagic and benthic sampling, respectively. The PhD student will participate in ship-based fieldwork along the MA and CA coasts, using eDNA sampling to test hypotheses about pelagic food webs and benthic microbial responses to low oxygen concentrations.

Prospective applicants should have research interests in the areas of environmental metabarcoding (16S/18S rRNA or other loci), molecular ecology, and bioinformatic data analysis.

3. Functional characterization of nematode-associated microbiomes. This project will evaluate the ecological roles of nematode-associated bacterial symbionts, including their putative contributions to global biogeochemical cycling (of Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulfur) and host fitness (e.g. antimicrobial properties or protection against sulfide toxicity). Prospective applicants should have research interests in the areas of microbial metagenomics, bioinformatic analysis, and/or classical microbiology (isolation and culturing protocols, FISH and confocal microscopy, etc.).  

To apply: Interested applications should email their current CV and a brief statement of research interests (e.g. one paragraph in an email describing their interest in the Bik Lab) to Prospective PhD applicants whose skills and interests are a good fit with the lab will be invited to a follow-up Zoom call to discuss potential projects in more detail with PI Holly Bik.

Any interested student who is facing financial hardship with graduate program application fees should contact PI Holly Bik for information about fee waivers. Please do not let the financial hurdle prevent you from applying to a graduate position in the Bik Lab – we can help find a solution, do not be hesitant to ask.

All UGA graduate program applications are due by December 31, 2023 to ensure full consideration for the above PhD positions.

PI Holly Bik has a joint appointment between the Department of Marine Sciences and the Institute of Bioinformatics, and prospective PhD applicants can join the lab through either program (Marine Sciences:, IOB: Further information about the Bik Lab, including recent publications and general research areas can be found at:

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