An NSF funded Ph.D. graduate research assistantship, starting in Fall of 2021, is available in the Soil Biogeochemistry Groups in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. We seek a highly motivated Ph.D. student to conduct research on improving our understanding of abiotic and biotic controls of phosphorus bioavailability in diverse natural ecosystems at the continental scale (North America). The ideal candidate will have a BS and/or M.S. degree in soil science, microbiology, ecology, (bio)geochemistry, environmental science, or closely related discipline with a strong interest in soil biogeochemistry, soil microbiology, ecology, statistics, and modelling.
Project summary: The stability and stock of organic carbon in soils substantially affect CO2 concentration in atmosphere and thus climate change. Carbon cycling is constrained by nutrient availability. Phosphorus (P) availability limits the potentials of soils to act as carbon sink as well as decomposition of soil organic matter. Phosphorus availability in soils is controlled by its concentration, chemical forms (i.e., speciation) and biological activities. It remains unclear how climatic, edaphic and vegetation variables affect these controlling factors of P availability at continental and global scale. Filling this knowledge gap will help evaluate the extent by which P availability constrains the potentials of soils to act as carbon sinks or sources at the continental and even global scale. The goal of this project is to determine the effects of climatic, edaphic and vegetation variables on P speciation, concentration (and stock) and stability of both inorganic and organic P in soils collected from an array of geographic locations across North America. The project needs to use P K-edge XANES spectroscopy, chemical extractions, enzymatic (phosphatase) assays and metagenomic analysis to semi-quantify microbial phosphorus functional genes. The graduate student may have opportunities to work one year in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a visiting student to learn metagenomic analysis. The large set of geospatial data will be integrated with structural equation modeling (SEM) to better understand causal linkages in abiotic and biotic factors that control P availability in soils. They will also be used to create continental-scale geospatial maps of these P-related properties.
For more information, please contact Dr. Mengqiang “Mike” Zhu, Associate Professor of Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry at email@example.com (http://www.uwyo.edu/zhuensochem/). If you would like to apply for this position, email Dr. Zhu with “Soil biogeochemistry graduate assistantship” as the subject line. Include the following in a single pdf: 1) statement of interest; 2) complete CV; 3) unofficial GRE scores; 4) unofficial transcripts; and 5) contact information for 3 references. For applicants who have a thesis-based master’s degree, GRE scores can be waived. International applicants also need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Please contact Dr. Zhu if you have any questions about the position. Applications (emailed pdf) will be reviewed as they arrive and given full consideration if received by Feb 10, 2020.
The ESM department at UW has a great SOILS group, with experts in pedology, soil physics, soil chemistry, soil fertility, and soil microbiology. The University of Wyoming is located in Laramie, Wyoming, and is only 1 hour from Fort Collins, Colorado, and ~ 2 hrs from Denver International Airport. From Laramie you have easy access to a multitude of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowshoeing in wintertime and mountain biking and hiking in the summertime.
The University of Wyoming is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law and University policy. Please see www.uwyo.edu/diversity/fairness.
1) A BS and/or M.S. degree in soil science, microbiology, ecology, (bio)geochemistry, environmental science, or closely related discipline with a strong interest in soil biogeochemistry, soil microbiology, ecology, statistics, and modelling.
2) GPA >3
3) TOFEL for international applicants
Additional Salary Information: annual stipend $22830 plus tuition and fees