Josh Neufeld (University of Waterloo) invites applications for a postdoctoral fellow (PDF) and a PhD student to participate in a collaborative research project to advance the detection, quantification, and characterization of subsurface microbial communities relevant to a used nuclear fuel repository. From depth profiles of high-value rock and water samples, experimental pressure vessels, and through experimental validation of multiple biomarker-based analytical techniques, the research conducted by these new recruits will generate valuable data that will help predict the stability of a nuclear waste repository based on current design considerations.

Position 1: PDF

The PDF will help coordinate a multi-institution collaboration focused on benchmarking biomarker-based techniques for detecting microbial communities in low biomass rock samples, including nucleic acid, PLFA, and natural organic matter profiles. This project will help define limits of detection, agreement between distinct biomarker-based profiles, and test viability-based assays to distinguish viable cells from relic DNA.

Position 2: PhD

This PhD student will analyze the microbiology of pressure vessel modules containing metal coupons embedded in saturated bentonite that are currently embedded within Canadian boreholes. This work will be the first, and likely the only time, that the synergistic effects of the copper and clay engineered barriers for a repository will be tested within rock and groundwater relevant to communities engaged in the site selection process. The results of this ongoing experiment will help inform the site selection process. The PhD student will also be involved in exploring microbial profiles from subsurface water samples, establishing links to groundwater geochemistry and investigating the role of ultra-small bacteria and archaea in these systems.

How to apply

Although based at the University of Waterloo in the Neufeld laboratory, the postdoc and student will work closely together within a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers from University of Waterloo, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, and Western University. The university-based research teams regularly interact with scientists from our stakeholder organization, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Applicants must have (or expect to soon complete) a degree relevant to the positions. Preference will be given to candidates with strong quantitative skills and demonstrated experience in one or more of the following areas: microbiology, microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and bioinformatics.

Please submit your application package electronically as a single pdf file to Josh Neufeld through an email address intended for this opportunity ( Your application should mention your motivation for applying to the position, which position you would like to be considered for, a curriculum vitae, and a copy of relevant transcripts (unofficial transcripts will be accepted at the application stage).

Closing date: Applications will be reviewed as they are received. The positions will remain open until filled.

We thank all applicants for their interest. However, only those individuals selected for an interview will be contacted.


The University is committed to implementing the Calls to Action framed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of ‎ the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes ten kilometres on each side of the Grand River.


The University of Waterloo regards equity and diversity as an integral part of academic excellence and is committed to accessibility for all employees. As such, we encourage applications from women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Metis and Inuit), Black and members of racialized groups, individuals in the LGBTQ2+ communities, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

If you have any questions regarding the application process, eligibility, or a request for accommodation during the selection process, please contact

Application deadline: Open until filled
Start date: ASAP
Location: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada