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Post Doctoral Research Associate in Soil Biology

School of Life Sciences

Location:  Lincoln
Salary:   From £33,797 per annum
Please note this post is full time at 1.0 FTE and fixed term for 36 months.
Closing Date:   Sunday 01 March 2020
Interview Date:   Tuesday 24 March 2020
Reference:  COS736

Climate change and a growing human population represent substantial challenges for humanity and the sustainable production of food and management of ecosystems. Soils lie at the heart of this challenge for a sustainable future. This is because soils provide several critical ecosystem services including: (i) (almost) all food production; (ii) key water regulation processes for flood management; (iii) the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth; and (iv) contain the largest dynamic reservoir of carbon on Earth (larger than that stored in the atmosphere and vegetation combined). The relationship between biological, physical and chemical soil properties is the key mechanism to managing these services and predicting consequences for climate change; for example, soil microbes are capable of both releasing and retaining carbon and nitrogen and play a role in the flux of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. 

While there are studies that have looked at specific soil aspects across narrow land-use gradients, there is virtually no integrated holistic knowledge of the role that land-use change has on multiple key processes in soils. This position will conduct research that will initiate an understanding in this area and provide an evidence base to support land-use change decisions to help mitigate climate change, flood risks and biodiversity loss both locally and globally.

The aim of this research is to be able to predict the quantitative effect of land-use change (e.g. increased urbanisation or rewilding from agriculture) on integrated soil functions in terms of C and N dynamics, biodiversity and water retention, such that this can be mitigated. Such knowledge will provide the start of an evidence base upon which government, local authority, conservation and agricultural policies may be based. Since there is currently very little understanding of the effect of land-use change in these areas, the project will explore multiple soil functions among a range of land-uses. 

Specifically, this project will look to target: 

1) sustainable methods of urban development that minimise C loss, retain the provision of natural and biodiversity services and minimise flood risk;

2) sustainable and climate change considerate methods of agricultural production to feed a growing population; and 

3) sustainable methods of conservation for natural capital stocks which provide essential ecosystem services which underpin global ecosystems.

We seek two enthusiastic, motivated and independent but collaborative PDRAs to drive this project and work with the rest of the science team to holistically evaluate soil biogeochemistry. Both PDRAs will work in a collaborative and integrated manner on the soil samples obtained; one PDRA will focus on soil biology, the other on soil physics, geochemistry and general soil science.

This is the advert for the soil biology post.

Along-side the main research aspects of this post, if the individual chooses, we will provide opportunities for career and CV development in the areas of student supervision, teaching and University service to prepare the PDRA for future applications for permanent departmental academic positions.
We seek an individual will a proven strong track record in the analyses of soil biology using next-generation DNA sequencing approaches to test ecological hypotheses. Ideally the candidate will also have, or will be expected to learn, the use of these techniques to not just analyse bacterial and fungal communities, but also metazoan communities via CO1 bar-codes or similar. Ideally the candidate will have experience with other more traditional methods of soil biology analysis and/or collaborate with those that do.

The candidate should be able to demonstrate experience and capability in field work, the molecular biology required to extract and process DNA and generate PCR amplicons, and the bioinformatics and analytical skills to analyse the DNA sequence data to test hypotheses. Ideally the candidate will have experience with science that not only describes the nature of biological communities but has gone onto attempt to evaluate the function of these. Ideally the candidate will have experience of or have collaborated with biogeochemists or similar in the understanding of soil biological communities.

The candidate ideally will also be able to demonstrate that they have successfully worked with multidisciplinary teams and ideally worked with various end-users in the agricultural, land management and/or conservation sectors.

The successful candidate will have a proven track record in leading the generation and publication of quality peer-reviewed published manuscripts and the dissemination of research at both specialist science conferences as well at events aimed at the general non-specialist public.

A driving license is desirable for field work.

If you have an enquiry please contact Prof Matthew Goddard PhD - Professor of Population and Evolutionary Biology e - mgoddard@lincoln.ac.uk

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We are an equal opportunities employer, celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and we are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of background or experience.