Graduate student positions

A number of graduate student (Ph.D. or MS) positions are available at the Department of Biology, University of Iowa to study a variety of topics related to the Biology of Stress Responses. Topics and Laboratories are detailed below.
The Department of Biology provides the opportunity for highly multidisciplinary training, with faculty with expertise in neurobiology, cellular and developmental biology, bioinformatics, genetics, genomics and evolution, and research that covers all eukaryotic model organisms.
The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, a vibrant mid-sized city that perennially ranks in the top 10 as a “Best Place to Live” It is the first UNESCO City of Literature in the U.S. and hosts a wide variety of cultural, artistic, and sporting events year-round.
Topics of research:

Protective mechanisms in stress and neurodegenerative diseases

Graduate student (M.S. and Ph.D) positions are available in the laboratory of Dr. Veena Prahlad
(, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

The Prahlad laboratory is housed in the Department of Biology at the University of Iowa and is a member of the Department of Biology (iBio) graduate program, new Iowa Neuroscience Institute, and the Aging Mind and Brain Initiative. The Prahlad lab works on the regulation of stress responses. Projects are available to investigate inter-tissue communication in the maintenance of protein homeostasis and upon neurodegeneration, epigenetic regulation of the stress response and heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1), and mechanisms of olfactory learning. The predominant systems used will be C. elegans and/or mammalian cell culture.

A high degree of intellectual curiosity, motivation and commitment is expected. You will be working in a highly-productive and intellectually stimulating research group supportive of a future career in the Sciences.

Relevant publications are:

Felicia Ooi and Prahlad, V. Olfactory learning enhances the expression of molecular chaperones in C. elegans (2017) Science Signaling 17. eaan4893

Chikka, M. R., Anbalagan, C., Dvorak, K., Dombeck, K., Prahlad, V. (2016). Mitochondria-regulated innate immunity activated in the C. elegans intestine is neuroprotective. Cell Reports 16, 2399–2414.

Tatum M.C. , Chikka M. R, Ooi F.K., Chauve L., Martinez-Velazquez L.A., Steinbusch H.W.M., Morimoto R.I. and Prahlad, V. (2015). Neuronal serotonin release triggers the heat shock response in Caenorhabditis elegans in the absence of temperature increase. Curr. Biol. 25: 163-174.

Prahlad, V., Cornelius, T., Morimoto, R.I. (2008). Regulation of the cellular heat shock response in Caenorhabditis elegans by thermosensory neurons. Science 320:811-814.

To apply, please send a cover letter with a brief summary of research experience and interests, CV, the contact information for 3 referees to Veena Prahlad (

Causes and consequences of chromatin remodeling under stress in Drosophila
Graduate student (Ph.D. or MS) positions are available in the laboratory of Dr. Josep Comeron (, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

The Comeron lab investigates the potential impact of natural stressors on chromatin structure using Drosophila as model system. These studies combine bioinformatics and genomic techniques with classic genetics and evolutionary analyses. The lab follows the premise that meiotic recombination provides a direct link among chromatin structures, stress and evolution. The lab has previously generated the most detailed recombination map in this model system and provided key early insight into (i) the influence of epigenetics (gene expression) and chromatin accessibility on recombination rates, and (ii) the evolutionary consequences of recombination variation across the genome of Drosophila melanogaster. The new studies will provide experimental evidence on how natural stressors can directly and indirectly alter genomic properties and, ultimately, fitness.
The lab is seeking highly motivated students that are eager to learn and apply multidisciplinary approaches to fundamental question in genomics and evolution. The Comeron lab is affiliated with a number of graduate programs, including the Department of Biology (iBio) and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics.
Most Relevant Publications:
Comeron JM, Ratnappan R, Bailin S. 2012. The many landscapes of recombination in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Genetics 8(10):e1002905.
Adrian AB, Comeron JM. 2013. The Drosophila early ovarian transcriptome provides insight to the molecular causes of recombination rate variation across genomes. BMC Genomics 14: 794
Comeron JM. 2014. Background selection as baseline for nucleotide variation across the Drosophila genome. PLoS Genetics 10(6): e1004434
Adrian AB, Cruz Cochado J, Comeron JM. 2016. Predictive models of recombination rate variation across the Drosophila melanogaster genome. Genome Biol. Evol 8(8):2597-612
To apply please contact Josep Comeron ( and send a cover letter with a brief summary of research experience and interests, CV, and the contact information for 3 referees.

Evolution of Gene Regulatory Networks Controlling Stress Responses in Commensal Yeast
Graduate student (Ph.D. or MS) positions are available in the laboratory of Dr. Bin Z. He (, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

The Gene Regulatory Evolution (GRE) lab is led by the newest member of the Biology Department, Dr. Bin He, who recently finished his postdoc at Harvard University and Princeton University. The GRE lab investigates the genetic basis for the evolution of gene regulatory networks and how that impacts the biology of the organism. In particular, we focus on the networks controlling stress responses, which are evolutionarily dynamic because species encounter new environments constantly. Our previous work has revealed an intriguing phenomenon of network expansion in a commensal yeast, C. glabrata, whose close relatedness to the model species S. cerevisiae and yet distinct ecology of commensalism make it an ideal system to understand the evolution of stress responses. We are currently working to extend our previous work in a single starvation response to a broad array of starvation and stress responses. The goal is to obtain a comprehensive map for multiple stress responses in this species to understand the genetic mechanisms for adaptation.
Potential graduate students seeking to join the lab will work closely with Bin to unravel the mystery of network evolution, using cutting edge functional genomics, biochemistry and bioinformatics tools. A high degree of motivation and commitment and integrity in science are expected. The GRE lab is affiliated with the Department of Biology (IBIO) graduate program.
Most Relevant Publications:
He, B.Z., Zhou, X., and O’Shea, E.K. (2017). Evolution of reduced co-activator dependence led to target expansion of a starvation response pathway. eLife 6, e25157.
For more information, check or
To apply please contact Bin Z. He ( and send a cover letter with a brief summary of research experience and interests, CV, and the contact information for 3 referees.