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Lab Research Associate Soil Health and Environmental Quality

Kentucky State University
Frankfort, KY
Closing date
Apr 11, 2024
TITLE: Laboratory Research Associate: Soil Health and Environmental Quality
DEPARTMENT: College of Agriculture, Community, and the Sciences

REPORTS TO: Dr. Shawn Lucas

EFFECTIVE DATE: June 1, 2023



PRINCIPAL PURPOSE OF JOB: The successful candidate in this position will carry out sample analysis in a laboratory that focuses on soil health and environmental quality. Laboratory processes and lab management will be the primary function of this position.

SCOPE OF RESPONSIBILITY: The successful candidate in this position works closely with the principal investigator, staff, and students to conduct investigative laboratory research, and analyze field samples in support of Organic Agriculture and Soils research in the Land Grant program at Kentucky State University. Our work focuses on soil health and environmental quality in agroecosystems. The successful candidate will carry out soil analyses for the measurement of nutrients, microbial parameters such as microbial biomass and microbial community composition, soil carbon, soil nitrogen, and other soil and environmental parameters. Preferred candidates will have experience with extractions from complex matrices (such as soil), gas chromatography, HPLC, carbon-nitrogen analyzers, and nucleic acid extractions and analysis techniques. Experience working with soil and/or water samples is preferred. The ideal candidate should have experience managing in a laboratory setting and be able to track lab supply inventories and facilitate compliance with laboratory safety standards. The position will also provide the opportunity for the successful candidate to participate in on-farm field research.


1. Carry out various laboratory processes for the analysis of soil and/or water samples. These analyses will include (but not be limited to) soil carbon assessment, soil aggregate stability, soil microbial biomass, soil microbial community composition (using fatty acid methyl esters measured on a gas chromatograph), groundwater nitrogen and phosphorous estimation, and potentially nucleic acid based community assessment.

2. Manage laboratory supplies and purchasing. Maintain inventory.

3. Facilitate compliance with laboratory safety guidelines and hazardous waste guidelines.

4. Operation and maintenance of lab equipment including gas chromatograph, centrifuges, shakers, ovens, etc.

5. Assist in the design and implementation of laboratory experiments.

6. Collect, enter, and analyze statistical data.

7. Assist in developing manuscripts for publication.

8. Train, supervise, and mentor research assistants, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students conducting research in the program.

9. General laboratory management

10. Other related duties as required.

OTHER DUTIES: The position will conduct other duties as required.

QUALIFICATIONS: Required: M.S. Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, or other life-sciences laboratory-oriented discipline. Candidates with degrees in Soil Science, Agronomy, Environmental Science, or related areas and appropriate lab experience are highly encouraged to apply. One to three years of relevant experience is preferred.


• Laboratory techniques as described above

• Lab management

• Ability to use a personal computer and a variety of related software applications (spreadsheets, word processing, statistics).

• Ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing.

• Research skills.

• Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships

• Ability to work independently

• Ability to work in teams and supervise

• Willingness to occasionally work outside, assisting in field operations


• Work involves operating and maintaining research instrumentation

Internal Candidates are Encouraged to Apply

Applicants must be authorized to work for any employer in the United States. At this time, Kentucky State University is unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of an employment visa

KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY is an Equal Opportunity Employer

The functions, qualifications, knowledge/skills, and physical requirements listed in this job description represent the essential duties of the job, which the incumbent must be able to perform either with or without reasonable accommodation. The Job Functions listed do not necessarily include all activities that the individual may perform. The College of Agriculture, Community, and the Sciences strives for inclusive excellence and is interested in qualified candidates who can contribute to this effort through their research, teaching, and/or Extension programs.

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