You are here

Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program

Application Deadline: February 1, 2016

Understanding and predicting the behavior of complex biological systems requires a framework that can integrate across levels of biological organization, can capture nonlinear feedbacks in dynamical systems, and can incorporate and facilitate mechanistic understanding.  This is the challenge of the future of biology. Meeting this challenge requires a multidisciplinary approach that relies heavily on innovations in quantitative fields such as mathematics, computer science, statistics, and engineering. It also requires strong integration (or re-integration) of molecular biology with organismal biology. Meeting the food, water, and energy needs of a growing human population, while minimizing adverse impacts of habitat alteration, climate change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution on human health and ecological systems – operate at scales from molecules to ecosystems, and there is a pressing need to develop the science that can cross these scales. The University of Minnesota is developing research and curricular initiatives focused on addressing grand challenges, and this program is part of CBS’ contribution to the university-wide programs.

Program Aims

The overall aim of the Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program is to stimulate synergistic interactions between faculty and postdoctoral associates interested in collaborating on multidisciplinary research that addresses societally relevant problems. Postdoctoral projects are for two years (assuming satisfactory progress toward research goals in year one). Postdoctoral associates will be encouraged to participate in grant proposal development workshops and other professional development activities offered at UMN and CBS and are permitted to serve as Principal Investigators on grant proposals. While in residence, the postdoctoral associates will be expected to be visible members of CBS, actively engaging with faculty, undergraduate- and graduate students and contributing to furthering the collaborative culture of CBS.

To apply

  1. Go to
  2. Current U of M Employees click the "log in using your x.500" (External applicants click the "search and apply for current openings" link)
  3. Enter "305669" in the Keywords box
  4. Select "Anytime" from the Jobs Posted Within dropdown menu
  5. Click "Search"
Applications must be submitted online.

Applicants should develop a 2-year research project under the guidance of two or more faculty advisors, one of whom must be a faculty member in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS). The other advisor(s) may be from a different department within CBS or from any other College at UMN.

Uploaded applications materials must include:
  • CV
  • 1-page description of previous or current research
  • 3 page (maximum) description of proposed research (containing: a statement of the problem to be addressed; methods/approach; relevance of the work in relation to grand challenges in biology; contributions of the collaborating partners; literature cited (does not count toward the 3-page limit).
  • letters of support from each of the proposed faculty advisors who will be involved in the project as well as the names and contact information for two external persons (not from UMN) who may be asked to submit letters of recommendation.

Additional Details

  • Position Start Date: May – August, 2016 (specific date negotiable)
  • The expected salary will be $46,000 plus benefits.
  • Positions are initially for two years with the possibility of renewal for a third year pending progress review.
  • Postdoctoral associates will receive $5,000 per year for research supplies and research-related travel. It is expected that necessary office and laboratory space and access to large equipment be provided by faculty advisors.
  • Early-career scientists with a high potential to springboard their careers to future faculty positions are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Applications will be evaluated by a search committee composed of one faculty representative from each CBS department. This same committee, or a subset thereof, will also be responsible for evaluating postdocs’ performance at the end of the first year and in connection with eventual renewal for a third year.
  • Applicants should have completed all of the requirements necessary to attain a Ph.D. degree and be able to be on campus to start employment by the agreed start date.
  • Graduates of UMN are eligible to apply for these positions, but we also hope to recruit a strong pool of external applicants.
  • Faculty are encouraged to actively recruit potential candidates through personal and professional networks.
  • For faculty advisors with joint appointments, their tenure home will count as their official affiliation.
  • As the aims of the program are to jumpstart new collaborations among faculty, enhance diversity of our postdoctoral community, and promote the professional development of young professionals within a few years of attaining their Ph.D. degrees, these criteria will be considered in evaluating applicants, in addition to the usual criteria of scholarly excellence.

Questions? Contact CBS Human Resources at