Student Opportunity Announcements

Ph.D. Research Assistantship in Deep Life Study

Applications are encouraged for a Ph.D. Graduate Research
Assistantship (up to 5 years of support) at DRI’s Las Vegas campus and the
University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). Although enrollment in graduate school will
begin in Fall of 2014, the actual start date is flexible (e.g. coursework or
paid employment can start at any time). This unique position interfaces with “Life
Underground' (
a recently-established node of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI, The Life Underground team takes
advantage of rare access to terrestrial and marine deep subsurface sites to support
the development of non-invasive in situ life detection technologies, cultivate
“intraterrestrial” life, and explore novel metabolic strategies and the
thermodynamic limits of subsurface life. Key team members include distinguished
researchers from, in addition to DRI, USC (Jan Amend, Katrina Edwards, Moh
El-Naggar, Ken Nealson), Caltech (Victoria Orphan), JPL (Rohit Bhartia), and RPI
(Yuri Gorby). Academic committee membership will come from a range of relevant
researchers at UNLV and the Life Underground Team. As such, this position
provides an extraordinary opportunity for early career training and networking. Thesis topics will be
somewhat flexible, reflecting both individual interests and broader team
objectives, but will include both laboratory and field components. Laboratory
activities will support an intensive field campaign (
deep drilling
programs associated with Death Valley National Park, the Nevada National
Security Site, and various underground locations), and utilize a range of microbiological and molecular ecological techniques.


An aptitude and appreciation for field work, at times under
challenging field conditions, is essential. This position is limited to individuals
interested in the degree of Ph.D., who will receive an annual salary of about
$27,000. Health insurance and a partial (~75%) tuition waiver are also
provided. Enthusiastic candidates with demonstrable research and academic
productivity and backgrounds in microbiology, microbial ecology, geology,
bioinformatics, environmental chemistry, or a related field should apply. U.S.
citizenship is preferred due to site access requirements.


Candidates will apply to both UNLV and DRI. Graduate applications
for Fall enrollment in the UNLV School of Life Sciences are due by January 15th
Applications through the UNLV Geoscience Program are also possible (contact Dr.
Moser before applying), with a deadline of Feb 1st. In addition, DRI
will require a cover letter, academic transcripts (unofficial is acceptable)
and contact information for three references. The cover letter should explain
in detail your personal motivations for seeking this position. For further details,
contact Dr. Duane Moser, Desert Research Institute, 755 E. Flamingo Rd, Las
Vegas, NV 89119, 702-862-5534. Information about DRI can
be found at To learn about UNLV and the School of Life
Sciences (SOLS) go to