BEE/CALS, Cornell University

Position ID:Cornell-BEE/CALS-PDVMA [#5627]
Position Title: Postdoctoral Associate in Visualization of Microbial Attachment
Position Type:Postdoctoral
Position Location:Ithaca, New York 14853, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Physics
Environmental Engineering
Food Engineering
Biological Engineering
Appl Deadline:2015/08/05* finished (posted 2015/06/09, finished 2016/01/28, listed until 2015/08/05)
Position Description:    

*** this position has been closed, and no new applications will be accepted. ***


The Department of Biological & Environmental Engineering is seeking qualified candidates for a postdoctoral position engaged in USDA-funded research on the physical mechanisms of microbial pathogen attachment to fresh produce as well as possible mitigation methods to reduce potential contamination. Enterobacterial infections (including Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica) from contaminated fresh produce represent a growing portion of food-associated illness. While most pathogen transport is associated with water, the effect of water films on microbial pathogen attachment onto produce surfaces has not received sufficient attention. Water films mediate many initial pathogen interactions with the plant surface, and therefore should be considered as a risk reduction control point that potentially can be modified to reduce contamination.

This position includes a 12-month initial appointment with possible additional 18 month extension, depending on performance.


Drawing on the research group’s experience with micro-scale attachment processes in porous media, the successful candidate will examine the physical processes of microbial association with lettuce leaves, spinach leaves and tomato skins, and will then examine potential steps to modify conditions of the initial attachment process to weaken attachment strength and facilitate detachment with conventional washing practices. Experimental approaches will include digital bright field and CLSM microscopy and image processing of samples generated by pathogen/plant contact and washoff studies.

Research objectives will be to: 1) Determine the role of water films in the retention and attachment of E. coli and Salmonella biocolloids (nontoxigenic strains); 2) Determine the effects of water film properties and intrinsic leaf surface properties on the extent and strength of enterobacterial attachment; and 3) Test strategies to reduce the strength and extent of microbial attachment by modifying solution characteristics and surface properties in order to enhance the safety of fresh produce.

Specific duties: carry out literature review, method development, experimentation, and reporting as per above objectives, in collaboration with the principal investigators and external collaborators.



PhD in a relevant discipline (biological or environmental engineering, microbiology)

Demonstrated record and desire to publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Proven organizational skills and the ability to work independently with faculty guidance


Strong computational and image processing skills.

Experience in microbial pathogen/plant surface interactions

Experience in CLSM and digital bright field microscopy

Experience with atomic force microscopy


Commensurate with experience


Work under the supervision of a collaborative team of researchers from Cornell University’s Departments of Biological & Environmental Engineering and Microbiology, with collaborative input from external collaborators.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
Search Coordinator
106 Riley Robb Hall
Ithaca, New York 14853-5701

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