Postdoc positions available – see details here!
We are often open to taking motivated undergraduate students to help us with screens to discover new genes controlling development in model and non-model organisms! More on undergraduate research opportunity at Extavour Lab
Learn next-generation sequencing, high-throughput gene expression, and classical genetics techniques. Contact Cassandra if you are interested!
We are accepting applications from motivated and independent prospective Ph.D. students to join ongoing projects or develop new ones. Our work is multidisciplinary and can combine molecular biology, biochemistry, classical genetics, experimental embryology, and advanced live imaging – you should be prepared to become a multidisciplinary scientist! All projects should be at least somewhat related to our primary research foci (see Research), but students will be encouraged and expected to contribute to project development as their interests evolve.
Interested students should email Cassandra Extavour with a brief statement of research interests.
Students can join the lab as Ph.D. candidates through any one of a variety of graduate programs. No matter which program Ph.D. students in our lab are enrolled in, the majority of the Ph.D. experience will consist of full time research in the Extavour lab with Cassandra Extavour as your primary thesis research advisor.
All of these Ph.D. programs include advanced coursework and teaching opportunities, and benefit from the stimulating academic environment provided by close ties with neighboring labs in several departments. All programs provide stipend, full tuition, and benefits. The differences between the programs lie primarily in the required coursework, teaching requirements, expectations of involvement from other faculty in the form of advisory committees, and the format of their qualifying/candidacy exams.
- The Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) Ph.D. training program
- The Molecules, Cells and Organisms (MCO) Ph.D. training program
- The Systems Biology Ph.D. training program
- The Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Ph.D. training program
Because the OEB department only accepts candidates whose interests can be matched with a faculty member, interested applicants should email Cassandra Extavour directly before applying to the OEB graduate program.
The non-OEB programs require students to rotate through at least two labs before finally joining one. Students interested in working in the Extavour lab as a member of these programs are encouraged to contact Dr. Extavour before applying and/or upon acceptance to these programs.
The deadline for applications is generally in the middle of December of each year, for entry in the following academic year. See the links above for information on how to apply to each program. You can apply to more than one program, but pay careful attention to the requirements for each program, as they are not all the same.
The links below provide general information about graduate study at Harvard, and Life Science graduate work at Harvard.
We are currently looking for collaborative, self-motivated Postdoctoral Associates to work in the lab of Dr. Cassandra Extavour at Harvard University. The Lab works on the evolution of development at many different levels of biological organization and scale, and seeks to understand the evolutionary origins and modern functions of the genes that govern cell fate decisions during animal development. We often focus on the cell types that ensure that the evolution process can take place at all in multicellular organisms: the germ cells, that produce gametes, and the gonads, which house the gametes. Because we cannot understand evolution by studying a single organism, the lab uses a wide range of model organisms, most of which are insects, including but not limited to Drosophila. We also employ a wide range of approaches, because we wish to understand evolution from the perspective of the gene, the protein, the cell, the organs, the organism, and the ecological context.
Current and previous lab members have had expertise in genetics, microscopy, biochemistry, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, developmental and cellular biology, physics, microbiology, and behavioral ecology. We are always interested in team members who will bring new lenses of inquiry. More information on the lab’s research and publications to date can be found on our website.
The Postdoctoral Associates will have the opportunity to study specific topics within the mechanisms and evolution of development. Projects are available to examine these dynamics at genetic, molecular, biophysical levels of biological organization. with some flexibility in choosing the specific technical approaches and model organisms to be used. We are particularly interested in scientists with expertise in biochemistry, biophysics or soft matter physics, molecular biology and functional genetics in non-model insects, microscopy, and Drosophila genetics.
Project area descriptions:
- Molecular Mechanisms of Germ Line Determinants: Understanding the molecular, biochemical, and biophysical mechanisms driving formation of cytoplasmic germ line determinants in Drosophila melanogaster. NIH-funded: 4+ years.
- Functional Genetics in Unusual Insect Model Systems: Developing tools for functional genetics in “basally branching” insects, including earwigs, stick insects, crickets, and firebrats. NSF-funded; 4+ years.
- Evolution of Intermediate Filaments: Determining how functional evolution of intermediate filament proteins impacts mechanical properties of animal epithelia, including in cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus) and crustacean (Parhyale hawaiensis) model systems. Collaborative project with the labs of Pavel Tomancak, Andreas Hejnol and Carl-Philippe Heisenberg. HFSP-funded; 3+ years.
These are excellent opportunities for scientists with an interest in the mechanisms and evolution of the genetic control of development, morphogenesis and homeostasis to take leadership roles in developing new projects within our broad intellectual framework, while working with other passionate scientists in a collegial, productive and project-driven laboratory.
The success of our research program relies on open and transparent communication between all members of the lab, and on our flexibility in pursuing unusual new research directions that arise as synergistic products of the diverse array of perspectives in the lab. For this reason, Dr. Extavour seeks to maintain a diverse and collaborative lab, where a multiplicity of distinct personal and professional experiences enhance both our intellectual work, and our growth together as a supportive team of people seeking to learn as much as we can individually and collectively.
Dr. Extavour is an experienced mentor with a proven track record of helping her trainees cultivate professional development skills and success in their subsequent independent scientific careers. Former Extavour lab members have gone on to successful careers in academia, industry, education, communication, government and the arts. In addition to professional development opportunities within the lab and exposure to a breadth of scientific disciplines, the Postdoctoral Associate will be able to take advantage of the vibrant scientific communities of Harvard University, the Quantitative Biology Initiative, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, the Arnold Arboretum, the Harvard Medical School, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as the numerous other academic and research institutions in Boston and the surrounding area.
- A PhD is required – specific degree areas include but are not limited to: Drosophila developmental genetics, biophysics, soft matter physics or physics of dynamical systems, cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, or applied math.
- PhD students in the final year of their thesis work are eligible to apply, but proof of PhD will be required before their Postdoctoral Associate appointment can begin.
- Experience managing an independent research project to completion and publication.
- At least one first author primary data paper published, posted to a preprint server, submitted or in press, by the time of starting the position.
- Having at least one such publication at the time of application is strongly preferred.
For the Germ Line Determinant project:
- Experience with Drosophila melanogaster developmental genetics is essential
- Experience with biochemistry and molecular biology is strongly preferred
- Experience with cellular biophysics and/or quantitative microscopy & imagine is preferred
For the Non-Model Insect Functional Genetics project:
- Experience with functional genetics in non-Drosophila insects OR non-traditional model organisms is essential
- Experience with molecular biology and/or insect cell culture is strongly preferred
- Experience with developmental biology and/or microscopy is preferred
For the Intermediate Filament Evolution project:
- Experience with microscopy and quantitative image analysis is essential
- Experience with cellular biophysics and/or molecular biology is strongly preferred
- Experience with functional genetics in Drosophila or any other arthropod is preferred
Skills and Abilities
- Ability to learn quickly and to work both independently and within a team.
- Ability to work effectively with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and at all levels of training.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- High levels of professionalism and interpersonal skills.
- Positive attitude with a problem-solving, growth mindset.
To apply, please email the following to firstname.lastname@example.org (PDF format preferred):
- A cover letter that summarizes your research experience, explains which project(s) you are interested in, and why.
- Your curriculum vitae including list of publications.
- Name and contact information for three references.
Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).
Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.
Please Note: This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however. Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.