Postdoctoral Research Associates: Agriculture, Carbon and Nitrogen Biogeochemistry

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This position includes a competitive salary and full benefits.
December 17 2020
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type
Job Type

Postdoctoral Research Associates: Agriculture, carbon and nitrogen biogeochemistry

Three postdoctoral positions are available in the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as part of the SMARTFARM research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of SYMFONI (System of Systems Solutions for Commercial Field-Level Quantification of Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrous Oxide Emission for Scalable Applications) is to create field-scale, affordable methods for quantifying soil carbon and nitrous oxide fluxes by high resolution measurements of these fluxes and their driving variables. Research will focus on the maize-soybean agroecosystem under different management practices.

A ‘flux measurement’ postdoc will focus on making high resolution measurements of soil carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide fluxes with automated gas exchange equipment. Experience with instrumentation and management of large data sets (programming in R or python) are important for this position. A ‘nitrogen transformation’ postdoc will focus on using natural abundance and tracer stable isotope approaches to investigate soil nitrogen cycling processes, including using nitrous oxide isotopomers to partition nitrous oxide sources. A strong working knowledge of the application of stable isotopes to biogeochemical questions is important for this position. The ‘soil chemistry’ postdoc will focus on measuring soil properties (e.g. pH, soil bulk density, soil organic matter and carbon, nutrients, etc) that control carbon and nitrogen fluxes. Field sampling protocols, laboratory chemical analyses, and experience with GIS are important for this position. It is expected that all three postdoctoral associates have extensive experience conducting field research, under sometimes adverse weather conditions, and that all will contribute to a highly collaborative work environment where they will coordinate research activities with a large team of collaborators, supervise technicians and undergraduates, and write manuscripts. Field work will be conducted on commercial farms in Champaign County, Illinois.

The ‘flux measurement’ postdoc will work primarily under the guidance of Drs. Evan DeLucia, Wendy Yang, and Carl Bernacchi, the ‘nitrogen transformation’ postdoc will work primarily under the guidance of Dr. Wendy Yang, and ‘soil chemistry’ postdoc will work primarily under the guidance of Dr. D.K. Lee. All postdocs will be expected to collaborate with other ecosystem ecologists, ecosystem modelers, ecohydrologists, and others in the SYMFONI project.

Required Qualifications:

·      A Ph.D. or the equivalent in ecology, biogeochemistry, soil science, or related field


·      Experience with laboratory and field work


·      Strong English writing and oral communication skills


·      Strong organizational skills


·      Ability to work in a collaborative environment


·      Ability to travel frequently to local research sites


·      A valid driver’s license


Strong candidates will also possess the following attributes as relevant to each of the three positions:

  • A strong publication record from their Ph.D. (papers published, in press, or submitted)
  • Experience with soil gas flux measurements, above- and belowground plant sampling, soil coring, and soil/leachate water collection
  • Familiarity with infrared CO2 analyzers, elemental analyzers, gas chromatographs, flow injection analyzers, isotope ratio mass spectrometers, and laser spectrometers (e.g., cavity ring down spectrometers, quantum cascade laser spectrometers)
  • Experience with soil temperature, moisture, and oxygen monitoring equipment in a field setting
  • Creativity, independence, and the desire to learn new things

All candidates must have received a Ph.D. in a relevant field within the past five years.  The position is available for two years, with possible extension further; however, annual renewal is dependent on funding and progress made by the individual. This position includes a competitive salary and full benefits.

Application review will begin February 1, 2021 and will continue until the position is filled. The start date is flexible, but ideally on 1 March 2021. Applications should include a brief cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information for three references. Please put the specific postdoctoral position for which you would like to be considered in the subject line of your email to Anya Knecht, the SYMFONI Research Coordinator,

For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Evan DeLucia at, Dr. Wendy Yang at, Dr. Carl Bernacchi at, or Dr. D.K. Lee at

Illinois is an Affirmative Action /Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity. (

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.