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Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama: Staff Scientist Research Position in Terrestrial Microbial Ecology

(posted 2017-09-08)

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI; seeks to hire a staff scientist to pursue an independent, internationally recognized research program in terrestrial microbial ecology. The position forms part of a new initiative funded by generous support from the Simons Foundation. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated commitment to world-class science that includes publication of findings in international peer-reviewed literature and will enhance and complement existing strengths in our research institute. Research interests may include plant-soil-microbial interactions, the role of microbes in biogeochemical and/or carbon cycling, pathogen dynamics, and microbial responses to global change, among others. Familiarity with both traditional culturing and next- generation sequencing methods for studying microbial communities and other tools such as stable isotope analysis is highly desirable. Previous tropical experience is not required.

The position is full-time research. Internal research funds are provided for laboratory setup and core ongoing research and travel expenses; staff scientists may compete for additional intramural and external research funds. Opportunities are available to mentor post-doctoral fellows, students, and interns who are drawn from an international community; to teach in graduate training programs with affiliated universities; and to conduct outreach to local and international audiences.

STRI is headquartered in the Republic of Panama, with modern research and laboratory facilities, a library with extensive holdings in the natural and anthropological sciences, and terrestrial and marine field stations throughout the country. Panama and adjacent regions of tropical America are rich in terrestrial and marine habitats, with abundant opportunities to study microbial communities across experimental and natural gradients of climate and fertility. The Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) maintains a series of long-term forest dynamics plots across multiple environmental gradients and STRI’s Agua Salud site supports a secondary forest dynamics monitoring network (SFD) as well as plantations.

STRI has a vibrant and collaborative scientific community of 30 staff scientists and hosts over 1500 scientific visitors per year, including fellows and interns supported through an intramural program. Staff scientists maintain diverse research programs in the ecology, evolution, physiology, development, and behavior of marine and terrestrial organisms and ecosystems, both ancient and modern, and the role of human interactions in shaping tropical environments. Strong interdisciplinary links between our scientists and the broader Smithsonian community provide excellent opportunities for addressing large-scale transformational research questions that are not possible elsewhere. This position is one of five staff scientist openings this year; additional target areas are animal behavior, forest biology, and marine biology, and exceptional applications in any of our research areas will be considered.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. and post-doctoral research experience in a relevant field. Early- to mid- career candidates are especially encouraged, but applicants at all postdoctoral stages will be considered.

Annual salary is commensurate with experience. Compensation packages are internationally competitive, and include allowances to support educational expenses for dependent children at international schools. The position is based in Panama and relocation expenses are provided. Applications from dual-career couples are encouraged from those with relevant research interests. For more information on the available positions including answers to frequently asked questions, please see

To Apply: Interested candidates should submit the following as PDF files: cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of research accomplishments and interests, three to five significant publications, and the names and contact information of three references to Positions are open until filled; review of applications will begin on 15 November 2017. Address inquiries to the search committee chair, Dr.
Kristin Saltonstall at

STRI is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity in its workforce. Appointments are made without regard to nationality. In addition to this position in terrestrial microbial ecology, STRI is currently filling staff scientist positions in forest biology, animal behavior and marine biology, and is supportive of the needs of dual career couples. For more information on the positions STRI is offering, please see our webpage: