A Ph.D. student (assistantship) is sought at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Food Science. The position will be in the lab of Matthew Moore, a recently hired faculty member who will be starting in January 2018. The lab will do research on microbial food safety; specifically on foodborne viruses, with some projects involving commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Enteric bacteria-virus interactions will be a major topic of investigation, in addition to concentration and detection of foodborne viruses from environmental and food samples. Rapid, novel point-of-care detection techniques, as well as novel inactivation strategies will also be a focus.
Human norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness worldwide, imposing a considerable public health and economic burden. Numerous properties of human norovirus make it difficult to investigate and control. For decades, a robust in vitro cultivation system for human norovirus had not been reported, but within the last few years two different models have been reported. One of these, along with other reports, suggests that some human enteric bacteria may assist/enhance viral infection. One of the areas of investigation in the lab will involve further elucidating and characterizing the nature of these interactions. Because human noroviruses cannot feasibly be cultured for routine food/environmental/clinical testing, the need for rapid concentration and detection of a small number of particles from a large, complex matrix is needed. The lab will also focus on better methods to achieve this. Noroviruses are generally resistant to most inactivation strategies, and the lab will also do work on novel disinfectants. Finally, early point-of-care detection is crucial for control of norovirus transmission. Dr. Moore’s previous work had explored application of a novel isothermal amplification assay that allowed stool-to-detection of virus in 30 minutes with the potential for portability in low-resource settings. Further improvement and optimization of this method as well as discovery of new point-of-care methods will also be another avenue of investigation.
This opportunity will provide interested students an array of skills in both virology and bacteriology. Multiple other opportunities to work with other members of the Department of Food Science and in the University of Massachusetts are likely, and will even further enhance the student’s skills. The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Food Science is one of the highest ranked food science departments for research in the country by the National Research Council. Preferred candidates will have obtained a Masters of Science in Food Science, Virology, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Chemistry, or related field, and have a history of good communication and research skills. A good sense of humor is a plus.
This is an open invitation for interested students to learn more about the position. Interested students should directly email a résumé/curriculum vitae to Matthew Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.