Join the lab

If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Vincent Denef.

Undergraduate Students

We encourage undergraduate students interested in environmental microbiology and bioinformatics to contact us to discuss potential projects in our laboratory. While we will train you in the specific methods needed, we expect you to have acquired basic skills in molecular biology and microbiology through courses or previous research experience. We aim to have undergraduate researchers develop independent projects within the context of our ongoing research projects. Several opportunities exist to take research for credit (e.g. EEB300, EEB400). We generally offer opportunities through the University of Michigan's Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology's ED-QUE2ST and UROP programs. Vincent Denef is also a mentor for the Program in Biology's Beckman Fellows program.

Graduate Students

Students interested in pursuing a Masters or PhD in our group should apply to The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology's Graduate Program. Microbial (Evolutionary) Ecology has developed from the field of Microbiology, not Ecology, and therefore has often been criticized to lack a solid theoretical foundation. I envision my graduate students to become part of the next generation of microbial ecologists, with a solid foundation in ecology and evolution built by being part of an EEB program. While researchers with a microbial focus are in the minority in our Department relative to for example a traditional microbiology department, a strong interest and appreciation for our field exists among our faculty and the presence of a Microbial Ecology Cluster at UM provides the critical microbe-focused mass for intellectual, practical, and logistical exchange. The EEB PhD program offers a competitive funding package, and while the Traditional Masters program does not offer a guaranteed funding package to cover tuition costs and a stipend, funding opportunities through teaching positions or fellowships (e.g., Dow Sustainability Fellows) exist.

Post-doctoral Scholars

We are seeking a postdoctoral fellow to join the lab: A postdoctoral fellowship in microbial ecology is available at the University of Michigan Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The Denef lab ( integrates population and community omics approaches with process-level measurements to gather an improved understanding of microbial population dynamics and community functioning within ecosystem context.

The post-doctoral fellow will focus on impacts of invasive species (particularly dreissenid mussels, which have decimated Lake Michigan phytoplankton communities) on the Lake Michigan microbial food web and the implications for overall food web functioning. This study is in collaboration with the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, which maintains a long term transect study focused on the higher trophic levels of the food web. The postdoctoral fellow will take the lead in analysis of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data generated through the Joint Genome Institute Community Sequencing Program for spatiotemporal cruises performed in 2013, and will participate in the 2015 sampling campaign, which will allow for performing sampling specific to the fellow’s research needs. In addition to these duties, the fellow will be responsible for data management, detailed documentation, and manuscript preparation.

The ideal candidate will have a documented strong background in microbiology, ecology, bioinformatics, and statistics, proficiency with working with computer clusters in a Unix environment, experience with metagenomic/metatranscriptomic data analysis including genome assembly from high-throughput sequencing data, and a strong publication record. We are looking for a creative, independent scientist who can work and communicate effectively in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment. A PhD and research experience in an appropriate discipline are required. The initial appointment will be for a one-year period with the possibility of extension pending availability of funds, up to three years based upon performance. To apply, please submit a cover letter, CV, and contact information for 3 references via email to The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer.

We are also happy to work with you to obtain funding through internal or external sources. Some examples include: