Student Opportunities

Graduate student (PhD/MSc) position in geomicrobiology

Start date: September 2021 or January 2022

This project will focus on life that survives in the subsurface environment of Serpentinization. Serpentinization is a water/rock reaction that has to potential to support life in the deep subsurface, and on early Earth, Mars and beyond. Serpentinization creates extreme conditions for life as we know it (i.e., anoxic, ultra-basic, and carbon-limited). Despite these extreme conditions, serpentinite-hosted groundwater springs are home to many microorganisms, however little is known about these organisms, and even less is known about viruses or other forms of extracellular DNA in these systems. This project has the potential to advance the knowledge of the role that viruses play in carbon liberation and horizontal gene transfer at the limits of life as we know it. This project will involve laboratory and field work.

– Relevant (science) undergraduate degree
– Interest in geomicrobiology
– Past experience with field and or lab work
– Willingness and ability to travel to the USA
– Willingness and ability to get a Newfoundland Driver Licence

This graduate project (PhD/MSc) will be jointly supervised by Drs. Andrew Lang (MUN Department of Biology) and Penny Morrill (MUN Department of Earth Sciences) and is funded by NSERC and the Canadian Space Agency. Please see our research websites for more information about Drs. Lang ( and Morrill ( We strive to provide a safe learning and research environment regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, social origin, religious creed, religion, age, disability, disfigurement, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, source of income, or political opinion. Indigenous candidates are exempt from the School of Graduate Studies application fee and there are additional funding supports available for Indigenous students at Memorial ( If you are interested in this position, then email Dr. Penny Morrill ( a short paragraph about yourself addressing how you meet the above qualifications, your CV/resume with your average % grade, your transcript, and contact information for at least 2 references. Please do not include large attachments. Use `ViralSERP` in the subject line of your email.