Biological and chemical quality in drinking water distribution systems

Job Type
Job Rank
Postdoctoral research associate
Job Institution
University of Texas at Austin
Job Description

Professor Mary Jo Kirisits, in the Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, is seeking a postdoctoral research associate to work under her direction on a new project. This project has two key objectives: to complete a nationwide study of the prevalence of opportunistic pathogens (OPs), their free-living amoebae (FLA) vectors, and (un)regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) across a wide swathe of full-scale drinking water distribution systems (DWDS); and to test fundamental scientific hypotheses related to the occurrence of OPs and DBPs in DWDS to better understand and manage their risks.

The postdoctoral research associate's key responsibilities will include (1) acting as a bridge between the research team (multiple universities, a consulting firm, and a non-profit organization) and multiple drinking water utility partners; (2) tracking the progress of the project; (3) gathering feedback from all collaborators to help revise research design, implementation, and evaluation; (4) contributing intellectually to research design, implementation, and evaluation (e.g., conducting statistical analyses and/or assays related to the chemical or biological quality of the water), and (5) managing project reporting needs. Other potential duties that aid the postdoctoral research associate's professional goals may be discussed (e.g. supervising students, teaching practice).

Project funding is available for up to 3 years, with an initial 12-month appointment and annual renewals dependent upon satisfactory process and continuation of funding by the project sponsor. The preferred start date is September 1, 2023, but a somewhat later start date may be permitted for a highly qualified candidate. The preferred work site is the University of Texas at Austin, with the option for remote work to be discussed.

Required Qualifications:
1. Ph.D. degree in any branch of engineering, molecular biology, microbiology, public health, or chemistry;
2. Demonstrated excellence in organizational skills;
3. Proven ability to work independently and on a team;
4. Proven excellence in written and oral communication;
5. Demonstrated knowledge of drinking water treatment and distribution OR knowledge of OPs OR knowledge of DBPs.

Preferred Qualifications:
1. Experience with statistical analyses of large data sets;
2. Experience with molecular biology or microbiology techniques (e.g., digital PCR, quantitative real-time PCR, biofilm culturing) or chemical analyses (e.g., DBPs, dissolved organic carbon);
3. Programming experience (e.g., R) for data visualization.

The University of Texas at Austin is an equal opportunity employer. The Kirisits Lab has a long history of welcoming diversity in all its forms, such as culture, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, political views, and veteran status. You Belong Here!

$60,000-$70,000 (depending on experience) per year plus standard benefits package as a full-time State of Texas Employee (

Apply for the position by emailing Professor Mary Jo Kirisits (, and use the subject “Postdoctoral research associate”. The applicant is requested to include (1) a letter of interest that outlines their qualifications, (2) curriculum vita, (3) copies of two significant publications, and (4) the name and contact information for three references.