Positions Available

Postdoctoral Researcher Positions
The Lucks Laboratory
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering 
Center for Synthetic Biology
Northwestern University

Postdoctoral Researcher Position – Cell Free Synthetic Biology Diagnostics

What we are looking for: We are seeking creative and enthusiastic postdoctoral researchers interested in the development and application of cell-free synthetic biology diagnostics to address global sustainability challenges. Particular areas of our interest include development of computer aided design (CAD) tools to model and design the next generation of cell-free diagnostic platforms, developing approaches to massively increase the scale at which we can manufacture and deploy cell-free diagnostic systems, and understanding the impacts of cell-free diagnostics on human knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Application areas of our technologies include water quality, human health and pathogen monitoring. We are interested in candidates that are passionate about these questions, are excited to lead projects, and that have interest in experimental and/or computational approaches.

Relevant recent publications:

  • K. J. Jung, K. K. Alam, M. Verosloff, D. A. Capdevila, M. Desmau, P. R. Clauer, J. W. Lee, P. Q. Nguyen, P. A. Pasten, S. Matiasek, J.-F. Gaillard, D. P. Giedroc, J. J. Collins, J. B. Lucks (2020). “Cell-free biosensors for rapid detection of water contaminants.” Nature Biotechnology. doi: 10.1038/s41587-020-0571-7.
  • K. J. Jung, K. K. Alam, J. B. Lucks (2021). “Programming cell-free biosensors with DNA strand displacement circuits”. BioRxiv: 10.1101/2021.03.16.435693.
  • W. Thavarajah, M. Verosloff, K. J. Jung, K. K. Alam, J. Miller, M. C. Jewett, S. L. Young, J. B. Lucks (2020). “A primer on emerging field-deployable tools for democratizing global water quality monitoring.” npj Clean Water, 3, 18, doi: 10.1038/s41545-020-0064-8.
  • A. D. Silverman, U. Akova, K. K. Alam, M. C. Jewett, J. B. Lucks (2020). “Design and optimization of a cell-free atrazine biosensor.” ACS Synthetic Biology, 9, 671, doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00388.
  • W. Thavarajah, A. D. Silverman, M. Verosloff, N. Kelley-Loughnane, M. C. Jewett, J. B. Lucks (2020). “Point-of-use detection of environmental fluoride via a cell-free riboswitch-based biosensor.” ACS Synthetic Biology, 9, 10-18, doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00347.

Postdoctoral Researcher Position – RNA Folding and Function

What we are looking for: We are seeking a creative and enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher interested in studying the link between dynamic RNA folding and function. Current NIH-funded projects include studying bacterial riboswitches to understand the principles of RNA cotranscriptional folding and its impact on fundamental gene expression processes. We are also interested in studying eukaryotic phenomena, and in using these principles to design synthetic RNAs to control genetic processes. We develop and apply cutting edge experimental and computational approaches that enable the high throughput interrogation and design of RNA regulatory systems. We are interested in candidates that are passionate about these questions, are excited to lead projects, and that have interest in experimental and/or computational approaches.

Relevant recent publications:

  • K. E. Watters, E. J. Strobel, A. Yu, J. B. Lucks (2016). “Cotranscriptional Folding of a Riboswitch at Nucleotide Resolution”, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 23, 1124-1131, doi:10.1038/nsmb.3316.
  • E. J. Strobel, L. Chang, K. Berman, P. D. Carlson, J. B. Lucks (2019). “A ligand-gated strand displacement mechanism for ZTP riboswitch transcription control.” Nature Chemical Biology, 15, 1067-1076, doi:10.1038/s41589-019-0382-7.
  • A. Y Xue, A. M Yu, J. B. Lucks, N. Bagheri*, (2019). “DUETT quantitatively identifies novel events in nascent RNA structural dynamics from chemical probing data.” Bioinformatics, 35, 5103-5112,doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btz449.
  • A. Yu, P. M. Gasper, L. Cheng, L. B. Lai, S. Kaur, V. Gopalan, A. A. Chen,  J. B. Lucks (2020). “Computationally reconstructing RNA cotranscriptional folding pathways from experimental data reveals rearrangement of non-native folding intermediates”. BioRxiv, doi:10.1101/379222.
  • P. D. Carlson, J. B. Lucks (2019). “Elements of RNA Design.” Biochemistry, 58, 1457-1459. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01129.

To apply: Provide a cover letter describing your previous research and your interest in our lab, and a CV with names and contact information for references to jblucks@northwestern.edu. 

Who we are: We are a highly energetic, multidisciplinary, collaborative and diverse group working at the forefront of synthetic biology. We come from a wide array of backgrounds (molecular biology, genetics, systems biology, chemical engineering, bioengineering, biophysics, and more) and are driven to creatively tackle fascinating and challenging problems in synthetic biology. We research both fundamental RNA biology questions, as well as questions related to engineering synthetic RNA systems to address important global challenges. We are embedded in a highly collaborative network of Departments, Programs and Centers around Northwestern University, and are core members of the Northwestern Center for Synthetic Biology.

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