Postdoctoral Fellowship – Microplastic Biomarker Development and Exposure Assessment

Job Type
Job Rank
Postdoctoral Fellow
Job Institution
Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health, Emory University
Job Description


The Comprehensive Laboratory for Untargeted Exposome Science (CLUES), which is led by Dr. Douglas Walker in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Emory University, is seeking applicants for a postdoctoral fellow position focused on developing biomarkers to measure early life micro- and nanoplastic (MNP) exposures using novel untargeted high-resolution mass spectrometry platforms developed for exposome research. Support for this position is provided through the EU Horizon 2020 funded AURORA project (, and offers the opportunity to work with a team of international researchers that aim to develop an actionable European roadmap for early-life health risk assessment of MNPs to support better regulation and use of MNPs. The overall research goal of this position is to enhance exposure assessment capabilities for measuring MNPs and MNP-associated chemicals (e.g. additives) in tissues relevant for early-life development (placenta, cord blood, amniotic fluid, meconium, fetal tissue). To do this, we aim to combine multiple untargeted high-resolution mass spectrometry approaches, including pyrolysis and depolymerization strategies, with innovative sample preparation techniques that enable comprehensive characterization of polymer and small molecule profiles within biological samples. The position is a good fit for someone with expertise in at least one of the following areas 1) trace analytical method development and quantification; 2) untargeted methods for metabolome or exposome research; 3) high-resolution mass spectrometry; 4) measurement of microplastics or polymers in environmental or biological samples; 5) pyrolysis gas chromatography measurement techniques. The position will provide a unique opportunity to develop high impact and innovative strategies to measure human in utero exposures to MNPs using advanced high-resolution mass spectrometry methods. The postdoctoral fellow will be involved with optimization of sample preparation methods to improve MNP analysis throughput, operation of gas- and liquid-chromatography Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometers, preparation of standard curves and mass spectral databases, data analysis, meeting project deadlines and goals, manuscript preparation and research presentations. Hands on training in exposome data science methods will also be provided. The postdoctoral fellow will be encouraged to develop new ideas that promote current research and will prepare and publish scientific manuscripts under the direction of Dr. Walker. Opportunities to apply for independent funding will be available and encouraged. The initial appointment is for one year, with expected renewal if progress is satisfactory and funds are available.

Preferred qualifications

The position requires development of sample preparation and instrumental methods for measuring the presence of plastic particles at trace levels in complex biological specimens. A PhD in engineering, environmental health, mass spectrometry, or other analytical chemistry related fields are required. Previous experience with method development using GC- and/or LC-MS is required. Training in untargeted analysis methods and the use of R, Python, or other scripting languages is preferred. The ideal candidate must exhibit meticulous attention to detail, have excellent written and oral communication abilities, possess strong quantitative laboratory skills, and be familiar with good laboratory practices. They must also have strong organizational and time management skills, with the ability to independently meet project timelines. Candidates who may not have extensive experience but are eager to learn and highly organized are encouraged to apply. Applicants who are interested can apply here: