Murdoch University seeks a Postdoctoral Fellow in novel microbiome technologies

With support from Horticulture Innovation Australia and Future Food Systems CRC, Murdoch University has commenced a research collaboration that will investigate the microbiomes of healthy and stressed tomatoes, potatoes and avocados.

The research team is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic early-career researcher to work with the team at Murdoch’s College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education (SHEE) helping to develop a new generation of microbiome-based horticultural products for Australian growers.

This is a great opportunity to join the vibrant research environment at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia.

If you are interested in applying for the position, please contact Associate Professor Kirsty Bayliss on


Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Position Number


Level/ Classification


Reports to

Associate Professor, Division of Agriculture Sciences, and Food Futures Institute (FFI), SHEE College.

Position purpose

We seek a highly motivated and enthusiastic early career researcher to join our team to help develop a new generation of microbiome-based horticultural products for Australian growers. Murdoch University, with support from Horticulture Innovation Australia and the Future Food Systems CRC, has commenced a research collaboration that will investigate the microbiomes of healthy and stressed tomatoes, potatoes and avocados.

Our aim is to identify a range of microbes associated with increased production and yield, especially in the face of abiotic and biotic stresses. We aim to develop new products by analysing the microbiomes associated with healthy crops, and how these microbiomes change when exposed to abiotic or biotic stresses. We aim to select consortia of microorganisms associated with crops that exhibit higher tolerance to these stresses and develop these into new products that increase crop yield.

The research fellow will be expected to design and implement a range of field trials, collect soil and plant samples for microbiome analysis, analyse bioinformatic data, write peer-reviewed journal articles, support Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students, and work collaboratively as part of a large team involving government and industry partners.

About Murdoch University

Murdoch University helps people discover how to make a difference, through education and research endeavor. It remains one of the most inclusive universities in the country, providing students with quality education and recognised academic standing within an engaging and caring environment. We are a university for all, irrespective of background and social standing with a focus on social equity, self-direction and freedom of thought and belief. With strong links to government, business and the community, Murdoch University helps people discover how to make a difference. We are a young, innovative and enterprising university with more than 23,000 students and 1,700 staff across Perth, Singapore and Dubai. We are committed to high quality education, innovative research, and strong community engagement locally and internationally.

Our Strategic Plan and Future Horizon 2017-2027 outlines an ambitious blueprint for development and growth, with a focus on one purpose: to be a creative force for current and future generations.

We are clear about our two core goals: to educate free thinkers who thrive in society and are sought after by employers; and, to provide life-changing solutions for the world’s big challenges through our outstanding translational research and innovative practice.

About the work area

The successful candidate will work within the Agricultural Sciences discipline at the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education (SHEE) and Food Futures Institute (FFI), Murdoch University.

The Agriculture discipline conducts research across the value chain to support the production of crops, pulses, pastures, meat, milk and fibres for human consumption and use. The Discipline has a long-standing track record of attracting significant research funding and delivering substantial industry-impacting outcomes for national and international agriculture.

Underpinning research excellence in Crop and Pasture production, Agricultural Biotechnology and Animal Production and Health, it is recognised internationally through the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise, where these research areas have consistently received scores of 5 – Well Above World Standard, and 4 – Above World Standard – since the inception of the scheme.

The FFI is one of Murdoch University’s research institutes, working to provide solutions on the sustainable use of limited land and water resources to economically and ethically improve food, forestry and fibre production.

The successful candidate will be located in the Centre for Crop and Food Innovation (CCFI) within the FFI. CCFI represents a collaboration of academic research staff working with industry partners to provide both strength and depth in research on major broadacre and horticultural crops to improve yield, quality and enhance tolerance and protection from biological and environmental stresses. CCFI comprises a team of academic and research staff and over 100 current HDR students and is ideally placed to capitalise on new technologies and investments in crop agriculture.

Reporting relationships

PVC → FFI Centre Director → Associate Professor → Postdoctoral Fellow

Key Responsibilities / Duties

  1. Design and conduct field trials to assess the microbiomes associated with horticultural crops, particularly when under biotic or abiotic stress.
  2. Use a range of bioinformatics pipelines and conduct network and statistical analyses of large metagenomic data sets, to identify core microbiota associated with horticultural crops in Australia.
  3. Assess potential methods for in situ microbiome engineering for developing microbiome-based crop products.
  4. Prepare results for international scientific journals, and industry reports.
  5. Participate, subject to opportunity, in applications for competitive grant funding.
  6. Provide guidance and contribute to the supervision of postgraduate HDR students.
  7. Participate in the University’s Academic Contribution Development Review (ACDR).
  8. Undertake such other duties as determined by the primary supervisor.

Guiding Principles and Values / Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

The founding principles upon which Murdoch University was established continue unabated today. We continue to be guided by the principles of:

  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Opportunity
  • Sustainability
  • Global Responsibility

These Murdoch principles come to life through our culture as evidenced by being an institution where the following are clear:

  • Integrity
  • Respect and Diversity
  • Purpose
  • Excellence and Future-focus

All staff will comply with the University’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct and demonstrate a commitment to its Equity, Diversity and Safety principles and the general capabilities of personal effectiveness, working collaboratively and demonstrating a focus on results. All Staff are to complete a Contribution Development Review Annually. Details of the University policies on Development Review can be accessed here. A commencing Development Review should be completed within three months of commencement.

Selection Criteria

  1. A PhD in agricultural microbiology, microbial ecology, or bioinformatics.
  2. Demonstrated expertise in the use of bioinformatics pipelines to process metagenomic data.
  3. Demonstrated experience in analysing large datasets, and visualisation/presentation of metagenomic data.
  4. Demonstrated ability to work independently under broad direction, and effectively as a team member.
  5. Demonstrated ability to engage in high-quality independent research.
  6. Well-developed interpersonal skills.
  7. Demonstrated high levels of written and oral communication skills in English.


  1. Experience in microbiome engineering and/or plant pathology or microbiology.
  2. Ability and commitment to successfully supervise and/or mentor HDR students.
  3. Capacity to generate research funding, subject to opportunity (either independently or as part of a research team).

Work Requirements

  1. Australian residency or possession of a valid visa with work entitlement in Australia.
  2. A willingness and ability to travel nationally and internationally to field sites and collaborators.
  3. Ability to work outside normal office hours when required.

Probationary Review

This position may be subject to a probationary period, during which the academic staff member is required to meet set probationary objectives and pass a probationary review. Probationary objectives are set following appointment to the position and confirmed at the first Academic Contribution Development Review (ACDR).

Academic Career Framework

Murdoch University’s Academic Career Framework provides a transparent, equitable and consistent approach to probation and promotion as well as outcome and workload expectations. Please refer to the Murdoch University Academic Career Framework for performance criteria and expectations for all academic positions.

If you are interested in applying for the position, please contact Associate Professor Kirsty Bayliss on