Keegstra Postdoctoral Researcher – Optimizing microbial conversion of bioenergy sorghum biomass to advanced biofuels and bioproducts

Position Type

We seek to fill a Postdoctoral Research Associate position with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). The Keegstra Postdoctoral Researcher will be based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will interact with the groups of Professor Chris Todd Hittinger at UW-Madison, Professor John Mullet at Texas A&M University, and other GLBRC reseachers.

Bioenergy sorghum hybrids are annual C4 grass crops that have low input requirements, high yield potential, and drought and heat resilience, which enables biomass production on land suitable for bioenergy crops. GLBRC has recently engineered sorghum lines that accumulate elevated levels of mixed-linkage glucan (MLG) in sorghum stems, which augments the normal spectrum of sugars, vegetative starch, and lignocellulose that comprise stems at harvest. GLBRC is also developing methods for separation of wax, MLG/non-structural polysaccharides (NSP), and lignocellulose from bioenergy sorghum stems, including a countercurrent diffusion (CC-D) technology that efficiently separates NSP from bioenergy sorghum stems and sugars released following pretreatment/hydrolysis of stem lignocellulose.

The successful candidate will design a project to address two critical knowledge gaps using the yeast chassis Saccharomyces cerevisiae. First, they will seek to evaluate and understand the utility of the various NSP and lignocellulosic sugar streams for microbial upgrading to the advanced biofuel isobutanol. Second, they will discover and overcome specific conversion bottlenecks using multiomics (e.g. using genome-wide deletion, CRISPR, and overexpression libraries; transcriptomics; proteomics; metabolomics), libraries of diverse yeast strains, and/or other approaches to optimize strains using Design-Test-Learn cycles.

The position is for up to two years, appointed yearly based on funding and performance, with an initial salary of $60,000/year, standard UW–Madison benefits, and funds for research expenses and travel. Candidates must have received their PhD degree within three years of the start of this position and must not have been previously associated with GLBRC. The postdoc is expected to take an active role in the GLBRC community by facilitating integrative work and leading Center activities.

The successful candidate must have a PhD in a field related to metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, or another relevant area of biological sciences prior to starting the position. The successful candidate will have strong written and oral communication skills. Strong computational skills, creativity, independence, and experience with machine learning or engineering yeast strains will be viewed favorably. The start date is negotiable with a preference for being as soon as possible.

Required Application Materials and Application Instructions:
Candidates should provide:

  1. A cover letter (1-2 pages) summarizing research experience and interests;
  2. A current CV;
  3. PDFs of any relevant preprints;
  4. Contact information for three references.

Please direct completed applications to Chris Todd Hittinger ( Please also see our ad for other postdoctoral positions in the Hittinger Lab.

More information on the Keegstra Bioenergy Research Fellowship program

Deadline to Apply