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21-16. Ecophysiology of algal blooms


Closing Date: November 1, 2022

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.

Please communicate with individual Research Advisor(s) on the right to discuss project ideas and answer specific questions about the Research Opportunity.

How to Apply


Freshwater algal blooms and associated environmental impacts are critical research priorities for the USGS Ecosystems Mission Area. Not only do harmful blooms hinder recreational uses, but they degrade aquatic habitats by driving hypoxia, swings in pH, and sometimes dramatic biodiversity loss. Moreover, algal blooms can produce potentially dangerous toxins that threaten human and animal health directly, and create economic costs for industries that use fresh water, most importantly drinking water utilities.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), algal blooms are a major environmental problem in all 50 states (EPA, 2022). The basic causes and drivers of algal blooms are known - excess nitrogen and phosphorus, warming temperatures, slow moving water, and sunlight. But many questions remain about the ecology and physiology of blooms. Notably, it is not yet clear what conditions, both biotic and abiotic, most strongly promote toxin production and release. Additionally, it is not well-understood how environmental conditions interact with the structure of algal and cyanobacterial communities to ultimately reduce competition, and favor large blooms of single or a few species, often emphasizing those with toxic potential.

The Research Opportunity described here involves working with the Biochemistry and Physiology Branch at the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. The Center has state-of-the-art molecular, biochemical, and aquacultural research facilities, including an array of 36 large outdoor ponds for controlled studies of aquatic systems. Given the tremendous increase in freshwater algal blooms nationwide, the Center seeks to increase capacity in this growing research area. We seek proposals that will investigate interactions between environmental factors and bloom formation, development, and toxin release. Factors of interest should include, but are not limited to nutrients, pH, hypoxia, and the algal/cyanobacterial community structure. We seek candidates who will integrate molecular skill sets to assess algal gene expression and related cellular physiology, particularly as they relate to toxin production, as well as metabarcoding approaches to characterize bloom communities.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor early in the application process to discuss project ideas.


EPA. 2022. Harmful Algal Blooms.  Last accessed 6/17/22.

Proposed Duty Station:  Columbia, Missouri

Areas of PhD: Biology, botany, phycology, microbiology, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following basic qualifications:  Research Biologist, Research Botanist, or Research Microbiologist.

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Human Resources Office Contact:  Danial Anthon, 303-236-9197,

Apply Here