HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  • 09-Jan-2023 to Until Filled (CST)
  • Huntsville, AL, USA
  • Full Time
  • HudsonAlpha

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Position Type: Full-Time

This program is federally-funded and as such has federal-mandated specific requirements to qualify for participation.


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 HudsonAlpha BRIDGES program is supported by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Bridging EPSCoR Communities Award # 2225832. The program offers year-long, full-time paid fellowship opportunities for recent graduates of minority-serving institutions. The BRIDGES program will have two separate cohorts of participants (see date ranges below). Applicants may participate in only one cohort.

  • Cohort I: August 21, 2023 - May 31, 2024, with the option to extend through July 26, 2024
  • Cohort II: August 20, 2024 - May 30, 2025, with the option to extend through July 25, 2025

BRIDGES fellows at HudsonAlpha will commit to working 40 hours per week during their participation in the program. During this time, fellows will be trained in relevant laboratory skills, gain knowledge about genetics and genomics, and receive professional development meant to support a student as they plan for their future scientific careers.

This program is federally-funded and as such has federal-mandated specific requirements to qualify for participation.


Fellows will gain valuable experience working in a research lab and contributing to scientific endeavors. They will perform routine laboratory tasks, learn specialized skills like molecular biology, bioinformatics, and cell culture, and participate in scientific discussions. All students will begin their fellowship with a two-week biology boot camp to launch them into their positions. Throughout the program, fellows will also participate in professional development opportunities to help build connections in and beyond HudsonAlpha that will facilitate their future success in a STEM career. Examples might include opportunities to meet directors of graduate programs in the southeast, opportunities to interact with business leaders from HudsonAlpha's resident biotech companies, or workshops on writing a resume or a personal statement to apply for a job or graduate school. Fellows will present their research through an oral or poster presentation.


  • Have completed a bachelor's degree in a STEM field at a Minority-Serving Institution in an EPSCoR jurisdiction (1 Footnote) between 2019 and the fellowship start date (8/21/23 for Cohort 1 or 8/20/24 for Cohort 2).
  • Be able to commit to the 9-month fellowship
    • Cohort 1 - August 21, 2023 - May 2024
    • Cohort 2 - August 20, 2024 - May 2025
    • The months of June and July are optional to accommodate graduate school and employment start dates.
  • Be strongly considering applying to a STEM graduate program or job in an EPSCoR jurisdiction (1 Footnote). BRIDGES will assist the fellows in exploring, applying, and preparing for these opportunities throughout the fellowship.
  • Be able to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their ability to participate in hands-on education and laboratory experiences in a written essay.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale)
  • Be a member of an underrepresented population in STEM (2 Footnote) or from a disadvantaged population (3 Footnote).
  • Be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident

Application Requirements:

You will need to upload the following four (4) documents in the "Resume" of your application section:

  1. A current resume or CV
  2. A personal statement, 500 words or less, that describes your scientific interests, your long-term goals, the strengths that you bring to the fellowship, how the fellowship would benefit you, and anything else you would like us to know about you.
  3. Your most recent college transcript. An unofficial version is acceptable.
  4. A short statement describing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your ability to participate in hands-on education and laboratory experiences. (Minimum of 250 words, maximum of 1000 words.)

We are only accepting applications for Cohort 1 (August 21, 2023 - May 31, 2024, with the option to extend through July 26, 2024) at this time.

Fellowships Available: (Please choose three)

Cochran Lab Fellow:

Description: The Cochran lab is focused on how genetic variation and genomic regulatory elements impact genome function. We ultimately want to establish better methods to quickly classify the effects of non-coding genetic variants. We have a variety of projects focused on particular genes, genomic regulatory element function across diverse species, etc. We employ both computational and wet lab approaches.

Experience or Skills: A desire to learn about functional and/or computational genomics. Some laboratory and/or computational experience is desirable but not required.

Sara Cooper Lab Fellow:

Description: The Sara Cooper Lab at HudsonAlpha applies genomics to understanding important biological problems. This fellowship will support research using a combination of genomic assays to understand how genetic perturbation impacts the function of the immune system. Fellows in our laboratory will gain experience in human cell culture, molecular biology, and cell biology through an independent project aimed at determining how signaling between cells impacts the immune response. Fellows will collaborate with other members of the lab to design experiments, generate genomic data and analyze the results.

Experience or Skills: Majors in biology with coursework related to cell biology, molecular biology, and chemistry are encouraged to apply. Experience or coursework in statistics and/or computer science is also useful but not required. The successful candidate will be independent, curious, and have good communication skills.

Clevenger Lab Fellow:

Description: Depending on interest, there are multiple options for projects related to molecular breeding for the genetic improvement of peanuts. One option is to work directly on molecular marker-assisted backcross breeding to combine high yield with high fungal resistance with the goal of reducing fungicide use on the farm. This would require making crosses in grow rooms, genotyping hybrid seeds, and selecting the best progeny for the next generation. Another option is to work on developing our automated drought tolerance screen using raspberry pi cameras. This option would require half computation and half grow room work. The third option would be completely computational analyzing genomic data for the development of functional targets for marker-assisted selection. This option would not require prior computational skills; however, more could be accomplished with some prior experience.

Experience or Skills: Enthusiasm and curiosity. Experience with the command line (Linux) and/or basic lab skills would help but is not required.

Genome Sequencing Center Fellow:

Description: The Genome Sequencing Center (GSC) is a global leader in plant genomics. The fellow will work directly with our team of bioinformaticians and evolutionary biologists to explore the genomic diversity of organisms relevant to the Department of Energy (DOE), including bioenergy species. Possible projects include genome assembly, next-generation sequence analysis, and multi-genome comparisons. Main responsibilities will include working closely with informaticists & scientists as they design/implement computational tools for use at the GSC.

Experience or Skills: Most importantly, the fellow must be enthusiastic and motivated to contribute to plant genomics research. Experience with programming/scripting languages (Python, Perl, C++, R, pipeline managers, etc.) and Mac/Linux/Unix-based systems is also crucial. Basic knowledge of bioinformatics/computer science and genetics/evolution is not required but will be helpful.

Swaminathan Lab Fellow:

Description: The Swaminathan lab uses functional genomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics to understand traits/phenotypes of importance for sustainable energy production. The fellow will be exposed to techniques in molecular biology, genotyping, phenotyping, plant tissue culture, and biotechnology. We expect the student to be diligent, highly motivated, and interested in careers in plant biology and crop functional genomics.

Experience or Skills: Interest in plant biology, biotechnology, and agricultural genomics is essential, but no prior experience in the field is required. It is important that the fellow is meticulous in note-taking, capable of working independently, and is an excellent team player.

Harkess Lab Fellow:

Description: The Harkess Lab uses comparative genomics to study the molecular basis of sex determination in plants. We are seeking an enthusiastic fellow who is interested broadly in plant biology and genomics and will focus on a project related to how plants have repeatedly evolved sex chromosomes and separate male and female sexes. Under the mentorship of postdoctoral fellows in the laboratory, the fellow will take ownership of generating and analyzing genome-scale data for plant species with a sex chromosome pair. The fellow with develop skills ranging from greenhouse techniques and plant growth, molecular genetics, non-model plant genome sequencing, and computational genomics.

Experience or Skills: The most important skills are enthusiasm, independence, and the desire to learn new techniques in diverse plant species. Prior laboratory or computational experience with plants is not necessary but helpful.

Myers Lab Fellow:

Description: Fellows will be immersed in a leading genomics laboratory, working on a variety of projects relating to the fundamentals of human transcriptional regulation. The Myers lab uses genomic approaches to better understand and classify human genomic regulatory elements in the context of both basic biology and primarily neurodegenerative disease-specific hypotheses. Fellows can expect to learn a variety of techniques, both on the lab bench and computational, related to using genomics and genetics to study human biology, including molecular cloning, neuronal cell culture, and sequencing-based assays.

Experience or Skills: The most important requirement is a motivated individual who will take advantage of the opportunity. While the student does not have to be certain that he/she wants to go to graduate school to become a scientist, we are definitely interested in individuals who are considering science or medicine as a career, whether at the research assistant level or with doctoral ambitions.


(1) EPSCoR jurisdiction states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming.

(2) Underrepresented population in STEM - The following groups have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in STEM: women, persons with disabilities, and minorities from three racial and ethnic groups: Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

(3) Disadvantaged population - Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:

  • Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act;
  • Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families;
  • Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years;
  • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor's degree (first-generation and continuing-generation college students);
  • Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell Grants;
  • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as a parent or child.
  • Grew up in one of the following areas:
  • a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or 
  • a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas  (qualifying zip codes are included in section C7 of the NIH Diversity Notice).
  • Only one of the two possibilities in this category can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.

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 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 whichthat 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 common 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.
  • 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.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
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