Research Assistant – Freshwater Microbial Ecology

Employer: Prof. Katherine McMahon

Contact: Krystyn Kibler ( (she/hers/they)


We are looking to hire one or two undergraduate research assistants to assist graduate student Krystyn Kibler collect and process samples from Lake Mendota as part of their PhD thesis. A typical fieldwork day generally consists of going to Lake Mendota, collect environmental (e.g. temperature, dissolved oxygen), biological (microbes) and chemical (nutrient) data. Upon return on shore, the research assistant will assist in processing the samples in the laboratory. Additionally, the research assistant will aide in routine sampling on Lake Mendota as part of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Microbial Observatory. Besides field work, the research assistant will have the opportunity to learn and gain hands on training in laboratory work, analytical machines, and computational work.

We are explicitly committed to creating an inclusive and diverse environment and encourage folks from all backgrounds to apply. No prior experience in field work is required. Krystyn is engaged to closely mentor the research assistant and provide them with necessary training.

Having students with different life experiences and backgrounds is critical to ensure the exchange of diverse ideas that is called for in training tomorrow’s scientists. Because we are actively working to increase diversity and inclusivity in our discipline, underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.


  • Drive a boat and be on a boat for ~2-3 hours at a time
  • Perform limnological sampling
  • Process samples in the (microbiology) laboratory
  • Follow scientific protocols
  • Collect, record and process data
  • Prepare or maintain field equipment
  • Communicate findings


  • Good notetaking and recordkeeping
  • Coursework or interest in biology, environmental science, microbiology, or aquatic sciences
  • Willingness to work outdoors for some days per week (maximum 3 days/week)
  • Be comfortable to work on the water. A typical field day will involve carrying equipment between buildings on campus. (see Location details.)
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Be able to work in a team
  • Be able to take initiative
  • Ability to work independently and with minimal supervision (upon appropriate training period)

It is not mandatory to have this experience prior to starting:

  • Boating (boat safety training will be paid and provided by the employer)
  • Laboratory safety training (provided by UW-Madison at the start of the appointment period)
  • Training will be provided for necessary sampling and laboratory techniques


  • Number of positions: 1
  • Start datemid-late May 2022
  • End date: late August 2022
  • Pay: $14.50 no experience; $14.75 some experience; $15.00 very experienced


  • The hired research assistant will have an office in the Microbial Science Building (1550 Linden Drive, Madison, WI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s main campus.
  • All fieldwork will be performed locally on Lake Mendota, Madison, WI. All the equipment (boat, field gear) is provided in collaboration with the UW-Center for Limnology.
  • Lab sample processing will be performed at the Microbial Sciences Building. Sample analysis may occur at Microbial Sciences Building, Engineering Hall (1415 Engineering Drive) or Water Science and Engineering Laboratory (660 N Park St) all on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
  • Housing is not provided.

How to apply:

  • Application link:
  • Application deadline:  March 14, 2022
  • We accept applications until all positions are filled.
  • This position title is not indicated on the online application system which means you will not “indicate preference” for this position.
  • Contact Krystyn Kibler if you have any questions.

The CFL is an equal opportunity employer and is dedicated to an inclusive and positive working environment for all.