HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  • 21-Oct-2022 to Until Filled (CST)
  • Huntsville, AL, USA
  • Full Time
  • HudsonAlpha

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Position: Research: Postdoctoral Associate - Harkess/ClevengerLab

Position Type: Full-Time


The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology ( is a non-profit organization with the mission to use biotechnology and basic biological research to make important discoveries, improve human health, stimulate economic development, inspire young people to seek careers in science and teach members of the public the importance of science in their everyday lives. Located in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the world's leading science and technology parks, HudsonAlpha's campus contains state-of-the-art laboratories for biological research and development, as well as education, in the areas of genomics, genetics and personalized medicine.

The Land Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization based in Salina, Kansas, that was founded in 1976. The Land Institute co-leads the global movement for perennial, diverse, truly regenerative agriculture at a scale. Our work, led by a team of plant breeders and ecologists in multiple partnerships worldwide, is focused on developing perennial grains, pulses, and oilseed-bearing plants to be grown in ecologically intensified, diverse crop mixtures known as perennial polycultures. The Land Institute's goal is to create an agriculture system that mimics natural systems to produce ample food and reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of agriculture. Through transdisciplinary research and collaborations, The Land Institute builds learning communities to help society cross the threshold into diverse, perennial grain agriculture.


The Alex Harkess laboratory uses comparative genomics to explore the diversity of reproduction in plants, with a focus on the identification of sex determination genes. Leveraging the immense sequencing capacity at HudsonAlpha, our laboratory uses classical botany and phylogenetics paired with cutting-edge genomics to characterize shifts in reproduction strategies across the land plant tree of life. We develop novel methodologies for identifying, assembling, and analyzing complex sex chromosomes in plants, identifying genes that control reproductive strategies to improve crop breeding, in addition to other broad-scale questions regarding plant reproductive and evolutionary genomics.

The Josh Clevenger laboratory uses genomics to support molecular breeding with an emphasis on promoting sustainable agriculture in the south east. Emphasis is on tool development for direct application in breeding, including, optimizing methods for genetic mapping with emphasis on functional variant discovery, innovating using pangenomes for more accurate identification of genes controlling traits of interest, developing novel pipelines for genotyping structured populations quickly and cost effectively, and optimizing and deploying genome-assisted breeding techniques. The lab will support the breeding efforts of nascent breeding programs in Alabama with a current focus on peanut. The work is product driven, involves understanding whole agricultural systems and working across all disciplines of plant biology and agronomy, and is fast paced. We will publish high impact science, but the emphasis will be on direct real world gains for the farmers of Alabama and the south east; higher yields, disease resistance, stress tolerance, nutritive value.


Approximately 12 months of funding is available for a post-doctoral fellowship in the use of genomics to accelerate de novo domestication of new crops. This position is sponsored by The Land Institute, and the postdoc will be primarily housed at HudsonAlpha. The postdoc will develop and implement methods for hybrid low-coverage whole-genome plus bait-based genotyping to simultaneously genotype individual Silphium integrifolium plants for genomic selection and reveal information about their pathogen load at the time of sampling. Testing this hypothesis and/or using HudsonAlpha's Khufu genotyping platform to map plant traits of interest will lead to the development of new tools for silflower breeders and high impact publications. Several large, extensively phenotyped (but never genotyped) silflower and other new perennial grain species including Onobrychis viciifolia (sainfoin) populations, are available and should enable rapid production of agriculturally relevant knowledge.

This position is co-advised by Alex Harkess, Josh Clevenger and one or more scientists from The Land Institute and provides the opportunity to travel to Kansas and learn field and lab breeding and plant pathology techniques.


The Post Doc:

  • Conducts and contributes to original research under the guidance of Faculty Investigator(s)
  • Provides expertise in research program design, conduct and analysis
  • Prepares manuscripts and co-authors papers for publication in high-quality journals
  • Premon office equipment (e.g. computers, mobile devices, calculators, copiers, scanners) and laboratory equipment.
  • Frequently position self (e.g. stoop, crouch, crawl, bend) and pull/push, grasp/squeeze, wrist flexion/extension, reach to operate and maintain laboratory equipment.

Environmental Factors

  • Exposure to chemical, mechanical and electrical hazards, and hazardous physical substances and fumes, and airborne particles.
  • Noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Mental Functions

  • Continuous mental and visual attention, requiring sustained attention and observation.
  • Excellent fine motor skills and hand control in order to pipette accurately.
  • Ability to sustain focus during research procedures (to maintain protocol such as order of operations).
  • Ability to visually observe results and record outcomes on lab logs and/or PC.
  • Basic computer skills are required.
  • Extensive documentation skills, good attention to detail, and exceptional organizational skills are required.
  • Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, in the English language.
  • Requires the ability to adapt to change efficiently.
  • Ability to independently lead and conduct research, and to evaluate, interpret and present complex scientific data.
  • Capacity to work productively within functionally diverse teams as well as collaborate with external investigators and partners in academic and industrial settings.
  • Ability to prioritize issues and use sound judgment to recognize when additional consultation and/or help is needed.
  • Comfortable working on multiple projects at one time.
  • Strong logical thinking and deduction skills.
  • Ability to effectively present ideas and information in a variety of formats to a wide range of audiences.
  • Positive, flexible, and professional attitude.
  • It is the policy of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in accordance with all applicable laws, to recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job titles without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.sents findings to the scientific community
  • Assists in the mentoring and teaching of research staff
  • Helps ensure that the research methods and ultimate work product are reflective of the highest scientific standards of integrity, quality and confidence
  • Exhibits curiosity and enthusiasm for discovery; embraces the ever-changing scientific environment
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Doctoral degree from accredited institution in plant biology, biotechnology, genetics, or related field
  • Familiarity with computational biology and genome sequencing techniques highly desirable
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to work in a highly collaborative environment
  • Experience advising on research methodology and analysis as well as ability to interpret laboratory results and provide conclusions
  • Demonstrated ability to advance projects, managing multiple tasks and priorities
  • Proficiency with molecular laboratory software, tools and equipment

Physical Demands/Environmental Factors/Mental Functions

ADA Requirements The physical demands, work environment factors, and mental functions described below are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential function of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Disclaimer - All job requirements are subject to possible revision to reflect changes in the position requirements or to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. Some requirements may exclude individuals who pose a threat or risk to the health and safety of themselves or other employees. This job description in no way states or implies that these are the only duties which will be required in this position. Employees will be required to follow other job-related duties as requested by their supervisor/manager (within guidelines and compliance with Federal and State Laws). Continued employment remains on an "at-will" basis.

Physical Demands

  • Must be able to remain in a stationary position (sit or stand) for prolonged periods (50% of the time).
  • Frequently moving between work areas.
  • Frequently moving, transporting, and positioning materials up to 30 pounds.
  • Vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, and depth perception.
  • Frequent operation of com

It is the policy of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in accordance with all applicable laws, to recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job titles without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
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