The Project Scientist makes significant and creative contributions to a research or creative project in his or her academic discipline. The appointee possesses the subject matter expertise and the creative energy necessary to function at a high level of competence. The appointee will participate in activities to increase, improve, or upgrade competency. Appointees with Project (e.g., Scientist) titles may engage in University and public service. They do not have teaching responsibilities. Although the Project Scientist is expected to work independently under the general guidance of an academic member with an independent research program (i.e., Professor, Professional Researcher, Specialist in Cooperative Extension, etc.), he or she is not required to develop an independent research program or reputation. He or she will carry out research or creative programs with supervision by an individual in an academic title that carries with it automatic Principal Investigator status. The Project Scientist does not usually serve as a Principal Investigator but may do so by exception.
I. RESEARCH (85% effort)
Research Activity (70%)
The Hunter lab performs world-leading research in reproductive biology, focused on the process of meiosis. In particular, the lab synthesizes molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemical approaches, with yeast and mouse models, to understand how chromosomes are accurately distributed into gametes cells. Sexual dimorphism is an evident aspect of meiosis, but oogenesis remains woefully understudied relative to spermatogenesis because of intrinsic technical challenges. This deficiency is particularly significant for human reproduction, because oocytes are susceptible to chromosome segregation errors, which are the leading cause of pregnancy loss and birth defects.
The candidate will make original, creative and fundamental contributions to active research projects in mammalian oocyte biology. This will be done in collaboration with P.I. Neil Hunter, members of his laboratory and outside researchers. The candidate will consult with the P.I. on all aspects of such activities, and will engage in them only after consultation and approval. The candidate will be responsible for project outlines and implementation, including experimental design, coordination with collaborators and contractors, data reduction and final report. She/he will supervise students and technicians and help them with proper employment of equipment, appropriate use of techniques and methodology, interpretation of results, trouble shooting, and future directions.
Specifically, candidate will work on the following projects:
a. Exposure to estrogenic environmental contaminants is detrimental to female reproductive health. The common herbicide, atrazine, is employed extensively worldwide and persists as a surface and groundwater contaminant raising concerns about human and animal exposure. These concerns led to atrazine being banned in the European Union in 2003. However, in the U.S., over 70 million pounds of atrazine are applied annually to agricultural and recreational lands. The Hunter lab is making major insights into understanding the detrimental effects of atrazine exposure on female reproduction. This project is providing essential knowledge about the effects of environmental contaminants on female reproductive biology that is in the general public interest.
b. The decline of mammalian oocytes begins during puberty. Chromosome segregation errors are much more frequent in oocytes than in spermatocytes or somatic cells. However, the molecular causes are poorly understood. Our ongoing research supports the idea that exposure to female hormones and/or ovulation play a primary role, causing weakening of the connections between chromosomes that lead to the segregation errors and aneuploidy that devastate the fertility of older females. Completing this project will suggest ways to extend female reproductive lifespan, and have profound implications for animal and human reproduction, agriculture and conservation biology.
c. SUMO regulates crossover rate via a fundamental role in chromosome organization. Post-translational protein modification is a fundamental mechanism of cellular regulation. The Hunter lab has defined the ubiquitin-family protein, SUMO, as a key regulator of chromosome recombination during meiosis. This ongoing project indicates that elevated levels of SUMO in developing oocytes cause global changes in the organization of meiotic chromosomes and, consequently, the rate of recombination. These findings provide novel insights into the regulation of meiosis and explain why females have higher recombination rates than males, a phenomenon that has been known for nearly half a century.
These projects require specific skills, knowledge and experience in the analysis of chromosome metabolism in mammalian oocytes, including mouse husbandry, immunofluorescence cytology, and the specialized techniques of in vitro oocyte maturation and fertilization.
The candidate will publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, books and other outlets either independently or in collaboration with the P.I. or other members of the research team.
Grant Acquisition (5%)
The candidate will assist in securing project funding by researching, writing and editing grant requests and progress reports in collaboration with the P.I.
II. PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE AND ACTIVITY (10%)
The candidate will participate in relevant conferences, and the review of research proposals and scientific publications as appropriate. Project results will be presented at seminars, meetings and conferences in university and other public settings.
III. UNIVERSITY AND PUBLIC SERVICE (5%)
The candidate will engage in University service activities such as guest lecturing and committee service. She/he will also help the PI supervise undergraduate and graduate students.
The University of California, Davis commits to inclusion excellence by advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in all that we do. We are an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, and particularly encourage applications from members of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ community members, and others who demonstrate the ability to help us achieve our vision of a diverse and inclusive community.
Under Federal law, the University of California may employ only individuals who are legally able to work in the United States as established by providing documents as specified in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Certain UCSC positions funded by federal contracts or sub-contracts require the selected candidate to pass an E-Verify check. More information is available http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify.
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