Environmental Genomics Researcher

Sep 13, 2023

Title: Environmental Genomics Researcher - Research Project Specialist 1

Job ID: 357657

Location: Duluth

Job Family: Research-Support

Full-Time - Regular

Employee Class: Acad Prof and Admin

About the Job

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) has an opening for an Environmental Genomics Scientist. The Environmental Genomics Scientist uses expert knowledge of genome biology and bioinformatics to provide interpretation of genomic datasets with the goal of creating capabilities and resources that benefit the NRRI research community. The scientist will contribute to the development of conventional and new approaches to study genome biology for advancing environmental and ecological research at NRRI, collaborating broadly with other NRRI and external researchers. The scientist will mentor and train research staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows and will help run the genomics lab. The scientist will have the opportunity to design and propose their own experiments.

NRRI delivers integrated research solutions that value our resources, environment, and economy for a sustainable and resilient future as part of the University of Minnesota system research enterprise. NRRI employs over 140 scientists, engineers, technicians, staff, and students in two industrial research facilities. Through collaborative partnerships, we deliver the innovative tools and solutions needed to utilize and sustain Minnesota’s precious natural resources. NRRI was established by the Minnesota legislature in 1983 as an applied science and engineering research organization to inform state citizens and decision-makers while leveraging the power of the University of Minnesota.

Job Duties:

• Manage workflow of microbiome studies, including sample tracking, processing, and isolation of nucleic acids (DNA/RNA), and preparation of sequencing libraries. 

• Develop and apply novel bioinformatic methods to assemble, annotate, and mine pathways from genomic, metagenomic, and other complex multi-dimensional data.

• Identify emerging methods and tools in computational approaches to multi-omic data analysis and lead prototyping and implementation when applicable.

• Design, benchmark, and apply bioinformatics software and manage large datasets to enable analysis and interpretation of genomic and metagenomic data for NRRI’s researchers through consultation about advanced analysis pipelines and tools, provision of training sessions and development/implementation of services. 

• Provide clearly written online instructions and guidelines demonstrating the features of the tools, how and when to employ these tools, and the optimal approach.

• Participate in developing an environmental genomics analysis service program for NRRI researchers and partners.

• Contribute to publications, present scientific findings at seminars and conferences.

• Mentor junior scientists, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows by devising projects based on original analysis, maximizing their skills and abilities addressing these projects and helping them delegate responsibilities appropriately. 

• May work on grant proposal writing.


Required Qualifications:
• Bachelor’s degree with six years of relevant experience or master’s degree with 4 years of relevant experience. Degree in Biology, Genetics, Ecology, Computational Biology, Microbiology, or a related science. Experience in genomics research. 

• Demonstrated research experiences in two or more of meta omics: high throughput amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, metabarcoding, metatranscriptomics, and DNA-SIP. 

• Demonstrated proficiency in bioinformatics analysis and data visualization tools including significant experience using integrated databases, web-based development tools, and operating within parallel computing environments (e.g., Python, R, Unix, and command line environments). 

• Demonstrated research experience on microbiome characterization other than omics: qPCR/Digital PCR, Flow cytometry, FISH, Nano SIMS, or cell culture/bioreactors. 

• Demonstrated oral and written communication skills including the ability to independently carry out creative research with a proven record of publications and achievement. 

• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse groups and roles (e.g., work productively in a team-oriented environment and have a proven track record of teamwork). 

• Demonstrated ability to work independently on multiple projects and tasks.

• Demonstrated organizational skills to maintain excellent records, provide high attention to detail, meet deadlines, and prioritize competing demands.

Preferred Qualifications:
• Ph.D in degree in Biology, Genetics, Ecology, Computational Biology, Microbiology, or a related science. 

• Individuals with experience in two or more of the following research areas are especially encouraged to apply: environmental microbiology, soil microbiology, biogeochemical cycling, biodegradation of legacy or emerging contaminants, and/or anaerobic digestion. 

• Experience with machine learning applications in microbial ecology or environmental systems. 

• Experience with metabarcoding for fungi, algae, or benthic organisms. 

• Experience with metabolomics. 

• Experience with grant proposal writing and/or project development. 

• Demonstrated understanding of the scientific and social challenges involved in genomic curation.

About the Department

The Natural Resources Research Institute was established by the Minnesota legislature in 1983 as an applied science and engineering research organization to inform state citizens and decision-makers while leveraging the power of the University of Minnesota. NRRI is guided by the forward-looking charter provided by the Legislature to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment.

NRRI’s mission is to deliver integrated research solutions that value our resources, environment, and economy for a sustainable and resilient future. We are a mission-driven, project-focused team working to create opportunities for natural resource stewardship. With industrial-scale facilities in Duluth and Coleraine, MN, NRRI works across five strategic research platforms. These platforms address Minnesota’s soil, forest, water, and mineral resources:

  • Applied Ecology and Resource Management
  • Minerals and Metallurgy
  • Materials and Bioeconomy
  • Data Collection and Delivery
  • Commercialization Services


Working at the University

At the University of Minnesota, you’ll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning.  We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off
  • Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship
  • Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans
  • Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • University HSA contributions
  • Disability and employer-paid life insurance
  • Employee wellbeing program
  • Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity
  • Financial counseling services 
  • Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost

Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for more information regarding benefits.

How To Apply

Applications must be submitted online.  To be considered for this position, please visit the UMN careers page and follow the instructions. Search for Job ID: 357657. You are required to attach a Cover letter and Resume.

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail employ@umn.edu or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).


The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission.  The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  To learn more about diversity at the U:  http://diversity.umn.edu

Employment Requirements

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

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