Two PhD Assistantships in Biodiversity and Soil Carbon Dynamics of Bioenergy Crops in the Americas

Two PhD associate positions are available with a large interdisciplinary 5-year NSF-PIRE funded research project that will examine the social, economic, and ecological implications of bioenergy development in four countries across the Americas: Argentina (eucalyptus for biodiesel), Brazil (conversion of natural forests to soy, palm, and sugarcane for ethanol and biodiesel), Mexico (jatropha for biodiesel), and the U.S. (conversion of aspen forests to cellulosic ethanol). The focus of one PhD position will be to quantify bird species richness and pollinator communities in and around biofuel crops and the reference (native) vegetation at each of the four study sites. The second PhD position will focus on quantifying soil carbon and nutrient cycling and will include ecosystem modeling with DAYCENT.

As part of both PhD positions, there will be substantial opportunities to collaborate with other researchers with diverse backgrounds and expertise. This will foster more integrated analysis of the impacts of bioenergy production on coupled biodiversity, water, carbon, and nutrient cycles within each of the study systems.

The PhD students will be based at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI and will be co-advised by Drs. David Flaspohler and Chris Webster and Drs. Rod Chimner and Sigrid Resh. Houghton Michigan is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near Lake Superior and offers a host of outdoor recreational opportunities in summer and winter. The position will also require travel for extended periods of time to each of the four study sites.

Minimum qualifications include a M.S. degree (or comparable demonstrated experience) in ecology, soils, wildlife ecology, or a related field. Candidates will require a strong analytical background and an ability to manage large data sets and supervise field assistants. Additionally, the prospective candidate should have demonstrated motivation and strong work habits, the ability to work independently as well as within a research group, and demonstrated ability to produce peer-reviewed publications based on individual research.

Preferred qualifications for the bird/pollinator position include experience conducting field-based bird surveys by sight and sound, collecting vegetation data, and censusing pollinator arthropods. Preferred qualifications for the soil carbon position include characterizing soils, measuring trace gasses and ecosystem modeling. Proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese is also helpful.

Interested candidates should submit a curriculum vitae, GRE scores, statement of interest, transcripts (unofficial versions are acceptable), and the names and contact information for three references to David Flaspohler, or Chris Webster, for the bird/pollinator position and to Rod Chimner, or Sigrid Resh, for the soil carbon position. Review of applications will begin November 20, 2012 and will continue until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is sometime between January and May 2013 (negotiable). Funding (tuition, fees, stipend) is available for a total of four years.

Michigan Tech is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer