Research Fellow in Biogeochemistry - Georgraphy, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Location
United Kingdom
Salary
£30,942.00 - £42,792.00
Posted
Oct 11, 2019
Closes
Nov 09, 2019
Ref
121623
Organization Type
University and College
Hours
Full Time
Position Details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £30,942 to £40,322. With potential progression once in post to £42,792 a year

Grade 7

Full time

Fixed term up to 38 months

Closing Date: 15th November 2019

Job Purpose

An enthusiastic, innovative and self-motivated person is sought for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow position to join a multidisciplinary team at the University of Birmingham under the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR). The post holder will work on a new project entitled FACE underground: can tree can trees in mature forests gain greater access to soil nutrients under elevated atmospheric CO2?. FACE underground is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council of the UKRI. FACE underground is a collaborative project of the University of Birmingham, Exeter University and Lancaster University, which aims to directly address a global challenge and uncertainty - how future elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) concentrations will influence forest productivity and carbon sequestration, and how soil nutrient availability, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) will constrain such a CO2 fertilization effect.

The post holder will lead, coordinate and execute field sampling campaigns at the recently instrumented world leading BIFoR Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facility in a mature temperate deciduous oak forest in Staffordshire (BIFoR-FACE); and will combine field work with laboratory analyses to determine the impact of eCO2 fumigation on soil nutrient cycling and availability to plants. The researcher will investigate whether any changes in belowground carbon allocation can affect decomposition, microbial enzyme functions and N and P cycling processes and availability to trees. The research will involve the application of a range of techniques and approaches for characterizing roots, fungal and soil nutrient dynamics, as well setting up of field artificial root exudation experiments and undertaking incubations with 15N to quantify shifts in decomposition and nutrients dynamics. Ultimately, the project aims to address the key question, caN trees in a mature temperate forest gain greater access to nutrients to sustain high productivity under future elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations

The post holder will closely liaise with the NERC's Stable Isotope Facility at CEH-Lancaster for planning timely analysis of 15N signature in soil for gross N transformation processes. Supervision of a project research technician and coordination of project activities with project partners at Exeter and Lancaster Universities is expected to ensure efficient utilization of research resources and timely sharing of results with project partners.

The successful candidate will have a PhD degree, or equivalent qualifications relevant to biogeochemistry and/or plant-microbe interactions with a track record of successful research evidenced by relevant publication(s). Experience in nutrient cycling, plant-microbe interactions, field experimental instrumentation, environmental analytical techniques and data analysis in biogeochemistry is desirable. Given the collaborative nature of the project, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are required as well as the ability to meet deadlines, solve problems as they arise, lead and prepare publications and work effectively with other members of the team and relevant projects at BIFoR-FACE. The University of Birmingham is committed to enabling the career progression of post-doctoral researchers through opportunities for continuing professional development and mentoring.

Summary of Role

The post holder will lead, coordinate and execute field sampling campaigns at BIFoR-FACE; and will combine field work with laboratory analyses to determine the impact of eCO2 on the on below ground carbon allocation through root growth, root exudation and mycorrhizal fungi turnover rates and quantify any impacts on the decomposition of organic matter, microbial community functions and, ultimately, the cycling of nitrogen and phosphorus in soils. Finally, changes in N transformation and the associated root uptake preferences for different forms of nitrogen in response to eCO2 will be evaluated The post holder will closely liaise with the NERC's Stable Isotope Facility at CEH-Lancaster for planning timely analysis of 15N signature in soil for gross N transformation processes using an IRMS. Supervision of a project research technician and coordination of project activities with project partners at Exeter and Lancaster Universities is expected to ensure efficient utilization of research resources and timely sharing of results with project partners in line with project milestones and deadlines. Analysis of data to test the hypotheses is required as well as the ability to lead the production of manuscripts for publications in high impact journals and the presentation of results at conferences. Coordination of project activities with other on-going projects at BIFoR-FACE is expected to ensure complementarity and efficient project outcomes.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

• To conduct research that is focused on elucidating the impacts of eCO2 fumigation of a mature temperate forest on belowground carbon allocation pathways, soil enzyme functions, nutrient cycling processes and tree nutrient uptake preferences.

• Design experimental approaches and develop potential new avenues to address specific research aims, conducting problem solving and data interpretation, and managing resources effectively.

• Coordinate project activities and data with project staff at Birmingham and partners at Exeter and Lancaster Universities for effective execution of project activities and data analysis.

• Supervise project research technician, coordinate project activities with other ongoing projects at BIFoR-FACE and provide assistance to other researchers to help resolve project problems and develop new techniques and methods where necessary.

• To manage a detailed record of experimental data, including providing datasets to the relevant research-council data centre, and analyse data for writing up manuscripts for publications.

• Participate in relevant project meetings, essential skill trainings, conferences and public outreach activities of the project.

Person Specification

• A doctoral degree in environmental sciences, ecology, biogeochemistry or related discipline or near completion

• Experience in biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling and/or plant-microbe interactions research as evidenced by leading publication(s), which is commensurate with the career stage.

• Experience in field and laboratory instrumentation for the characterization of soil nutrient dynamics and transformation processes.

• Good skills in communicating complex information clearly both in writing and orally.

• Organize own workload according to project priorities and adapt as necessary.

• Ability to work under minimal supervision but function as part of a team

• Ability to coordinate and execute sample analysis with research technicians and with staff of other projects and PhD students working in BIFoR-FACE

• Understanding of and ability to contribute to broader management/administration processes

For further information please contact Sami Ullah ( s.ullah@bham.ac.uk ), Phone +44-121 414 8143

Valuing excellence, sustaining investment

We value diversity at The University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community'

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