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MCDB and CIRES/ Copley Lab Post-Doctoral Associate

Requisition Number:



Boulder, Colorado

Employment Type:

Research Faculty



Date Posted:


Job Summary

The Copley lab in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences is seeking a Post-Doctoral Associate to study the evolution of new enzymes and metabolic pathways. 

Work in the Copley lab focuses on the evolutionary potential of promiscuous enzyme activities, the ubiquitous side activities of enzymes that normally serve other functions. Promiscuous activities can be recruited to serve new functions when a new enzyme enhances fitness. Further, multiple promiscuous enzymes can be patched together to form novel metabolic pathways. The evolution of new metabolic pathways by this mechanism has fueled metabolic innovation throughout the history of life on earth and continues in the present day in response to the introduction of anthropogenic chemicals into the environment. However, our understanding of the process by which new metabolic pathways evolve is limited. We generally don’t know the genome of the organism in which a new pathway evolved and the details of the environment in which it lived. We can’t know the promiscuous activities that were available in its proteome, and we have only a few hints about the mutations that enabled the assembly of an inefficient new pathway and subsequently improved its function.

The Copley lab uses experimental evolution to address these issues. We evolve microbes whose genome sequences are known under controlled environmental conditions. We identify mutations and determine how they improve fitness. We use biochemical, genetic, and ‘omics techniques to address the impact of mutations from the molecular level to the system level.

Current projects in the lab address how the availability of different promiscuous activities in different microbes affects the evolution of new enzymes and pathways, the role of synonymous mutations in evolution, and the dynamics of gene duplication and divergence. The post-doctoral researcher will launch a new project aimed at understanding how the frequent “expedient” mutations that improve fitness under strong selective conditions at a cost to previously well-evolved functions can be avoided, compensated for, or repaired.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

At CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, more than 800 environmental scientists work to understand the dynamic Earth system, including people’s relationship with the planet. CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder, and our areas of expertise include weather and climate, changes at the Earth’s poles, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, water resources, and solid Earth sciences. Our vision is to be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable future environment by advancing scientific and societal understanding of the Earth system.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

  • Genomic editing of bacteria.
  • Purifying and characterizing wild-type and mutant proteins.
  • Maintaining an electronic notebook describing experimental protocols and results.
  • Participating in weekly meetings with the PI and other personnel working on the same project to share data and results.
  • Preparation of manuscripts for publication.
  • Mentoring of graduate students and undergraduate students in the laboratory.
  • Presentation of experimental results in group meetings and at scientific meetings.

What We Can Offer

  • We can offer a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits package.
  • The hiring annual salary range for this position is $53,760 - $56,712.
  • Relocation expenses are available for this position following CIRES and the University of Colorado’s relocation processes and procedures.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be Challenged. Be Resourceful. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • A recent Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular biology, or microbiology is required.

What You Will Need

  • A strong work ethic.
  • Excellent communication and organization skills.
  • Willingness to learn new methodologies.

What We Would Like You To Have

  • Experience with high-throughput sequencing, microbial genetics, and/or enzymology is desirable.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:
  1. Resume or CV.
  2. Cover letter addressed to the Search Committee briefly describing your qualifications, professional goals, and specific interest in this position.
  3. List of contact information for 3 references. You don’t need to include letters of recommendation with your initial application. The search committee will request letters of recommendation at a later time if you are identified as a finalist for this role.
    • If you are selected as the finalist, we will contact you through email and request that you submit 1 name and email of a reference who will be asked to submit a letter of recommendation (can be one of the 3 noted above). This information will be kept confidential and viewable only by the search committee.
If you are selected as the finalist, your degree will be verified by the CU Boulder Campus Human Resources department using an approved online vendor. If your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version (if applicable) as an optional attachment.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Position will remain posted until filled.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs.

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Shelley Copley

Posting Contact Email: