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Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Natural Products Biosynthesis Research

California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, California
Research fellow salary is supplemented by part-time teaching salary + benefits
Closing date
Aug 22, 2022

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Field of specialization
Biochemical, Microbiological
Work Function
Laboratory, Research-Basic
Job Type
Full time
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The College of Science and Mathematics at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is seeking a Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the area of natural products biosynthesis research. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will work with Dr. Katharine Watts of the Center for Applications in Biotechnology and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Research projects will focus on the fundamental biochemistry of reactions occurring in biosynthetic pathways, and how these pathways are encoded in an organism’s genome. In addition, the Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellow will help mentor undergraduate students and will have the opportunity to teach classes by separate assignment as a part-time lecturer.

This position will begin in Fall 2022 (or in 2023) according to candidate’s availability. The term of employment is one-year, with a second-year possible based on performance and funding. Salary is commensurate with experience.

Specific responsibilities will include: 

  • Contribute to on-going studies of elucidating mechanisms of natural product biosynthetic reactions.
  • Propose and write manuscripts based on the conducted research.
  • Work with mentor in developing research project goals, including writing manuscripts, grant applications.
  • Participate in professional development activities, including attending national conferences.
  • Directly supervise research staff, including undergraduate students.
  • Receive mentorship and training in effective teaching practices and teach at least 1 undergraduate course during the fellowship under the mentorship of experienced faculty (paid by additional assignment as a part-time lecturer).
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

At California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, we believe that cultivating an environment that embraces and promotes diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees and our community. Bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences and value systems fosters the innovative and creative thinking that exemplifies Cal Poly’s values of free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility. Cal Poly's commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring and retention. California Polytechnic State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Required Qualifications

  • Doctoral degree in the biological or chemical sciences with an emphasis in biochemistry, molecular biology, or similar field.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in heterologous protein expression, purification and in vitro assays, and/or genetic engineering in Actinobacteria
  • Experience with data analysis (including but not limited to protein and DNA sequences, chromatography traces, gel images, etc.)
  • Desire to learn new skills and work in teams including students, researchers, and faculty
  • Excellent computer skills including Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Experience with writing peer-reviewed scientific articles
  • Ability to prioritize, plan, organize, and meet timelines
  • Ability to lead others in managing tasks as well as the ability to train and evaluate the performance of assigned personnel
  • Ability to establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationship with others
  • Excellent verbal and written skills and the ability to interface with all levels of staff, university community, including students, faculty and staff, and the public
  • Interpersonal skills using tact, patience, and courtesy
  • Ability to maintain regular and reliable attendance

About the Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellow Program

The Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program is designed to allow recent Ph.D. graduates gain valuable experience in both research and teaching. Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellows will have the time, space, and support to build an impactful line of research and gain experience in mentoring undergraduate students within research and teaching contexts. Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellows will be mentored by experienced faculty and have opportunities to engage in research and teaching in a vibrant, supportive scholarly community. Research Fellows will develop critical research skills as well as learn to mentor undergraduates and integrate research in undergraduate teaching. These experiences will be invaluable to postdoctoral candidates seeking to make progress toward research and teaching careers in academia. The program is part of a larger vision spurred by William and Linda Frost, whose $110 million commitment to the College of Science and Mathematics is supporting undergraduate research so that many more students will engage in meaningful research and have the same transformational experience of discovery Mr. Frost had as a student at Cal Poly.

The Frost Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is a key component of a strategy to elevate our already highly-regarded undergraduate science teaching and research programs to further renown. The Frost Fund also supports equipment, facilities, scholarships, and student and faculty support for research.

About the University

Founded in 1901, Cal Poly is one of only five comprehensive polytechnic universities in the nation, with approximately 22,000 undergraduates, 120 postbaccalaureate, and 900 graduate students. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Cal Poly #1 among public master's universities in the western United States for 28 consecutive years. A primarily undergraduate university, Cal Poly offers academically focused students 66 baccalaureate degrees and 27 master's degrees. Operating on the quarter calendar system, Cal Poly takes pride in its "Learn-by-Doing" approach to teaching and learning, which has characterized Cal Poly since its founding. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University system, Cal Poly has a statewide mandate as a polytechnic university. Cal Poly is one of the largest land-holding universities in the nation and uses all of its land holdings in active support of its educational programs. Cal Poly is located in historic San Luis Obispo, a city of 47,000, 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean and midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's scenic Central Coast. With excellent public education resources, recreational facilities and an expanding dedication to the arts, the area is known for its scenic landscapes and extraordinarily temperate climate.

Special Conditions

The person holding this position is considered a 'mandated reporter' under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment.

Following a conditional offer of employment, a background check (including a criminal records check) must be completed satisfactorily before any candidate may start work with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Failure to satisfactorily complete the background check may result in the withdrawal of the offer of employment. Note: Cal Poly cannot deny an applicant a position solely or in part due to a criminal conviction history until it has performed an individualized assessment and linked the relevant conviction history with specific job duties in the position being sought.

Please note: Current employees who are offered positions on campus will be required to undergo a background check for any position where a background check is required by law or that Cal Poly has designated as sensitive. Sensitive positions are those requiring heightened scrutiny of individuals holding the position based on potential for harm to children, concerns for the safety and security of people, animals, or property, or heightened risk of financial loss to Cal Poly or individuals in the university community.

For health and well-being, Cal Poly is a smoke & tobacco-free campus. The university is committed to promoting a healthy environment for all members of our community.

CSU requires faculty, staff, and students who are accessing campus facilities to be immunized against COVID-19 or declare a medical or religious exemption from doing so. Any candidates advanced in a search process should be prepared to comply with this requirement. The systemwide policy can be found at CSU Vaccination Policy and questions may be sent to

In accordance with the California State University (CSU) Out-of-State Employment Policy, the CSU is a state entity whose business operations reside within the State of California and prohibits hiring employees to perform CSU related work outside of California.

This position classification has been defined as "Exempt" and is not subject to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo will not sponsor an H-1B for this position.

How to Apply

Interested candidates must attach (1) a cover letter, (2) curriculum vitae, and (3) a statement of research experience and interests. These documents are not accepted in hard copy format. When completing the online faculty application, please be prepared to provide three professional references with names and email addresses. Official transcripts are required prior to appointment.

Review of applications is ongoing. For questions, please contact Dr. Katharine Watts (

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