Job Opportunity

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tropical Forest - Soil Nutrient Interactions

ForestGEO and NGEE-Tropics

ForestGEO and NGEE-Tropics invite applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in tropical forest - soil nutrient interactions. The role of soil nutrient status in regulating the structure, composition, and dynamics of tropical forests remains poorly understood. Accurate predictions of tropical forest structure and responses to changing climate, rising CO2, and disturbance require a much deeper understanding of the interplay between soil nutrient availability and forest production, function, and functional composition.

The fellowship will develop a pantropical analysis of nutrient controls on lowland tropical forest structure and functional composition. Long-term ForestGEO data, coupled with more recent detailed soil surveys will be used to explore the drivers and dynamics of tree mortality. Analyses will be synthesized into a suite of model testbed sites that will be used to evaluate and benchmark Earth System Model nutrient cycle representations. The project requires expertise in geostatistics, including the ability to handle large datasets in R software.

The Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) is a global network of forest research plots and scientists dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity. ForestGEO conducts long-term, large-scale research on forests around the world to increase scientific understanding of forest ecosystems, guide sustainable forest management and natural-resource policies, monitor the impacts of environmental change, and build capacity in forest science.

ForestGEO is one of several institutions involved in the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics (NGEE-Tropics), a ten-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER). NGEE-Tropics aims to fill critical gaps in knowledge of tropical forest-climate system interactions. The overarching goal of NGEE-Tropics is to develop a predictive understanding of the role of tropical forests in the Earth’s coupled biogeochemical cycles and forest disturbance/recovery processes and how they will respond to changing environmental drivers over the 21st century.

Candidates should hold a PhD in forest ecology, soil science, or environmental science with experience directly relevant to the topic described above, strong written and communication skills, and demonstrated ability to work in a team environment. Candidates should have a strong analytical background, an established record of research, and scholarly publication in forest-soil science. Research topics should include subjects related to tropical forest soils and the dynamics of tropical forests including comparative studies of demography, growth, mortality, biomass change, soil nutrient cycling and related topics. Candidates with empirical, theoretical, or modeling backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The position will be based at either the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama or the ForestGEO headquarters at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The position will be co-supervised by Drs. Benjamin Turner (STRI) and Stuart Davies (ForestGEO). The fellowship may require travel for field work in a range of tropical forest countries involved in the ForestGEO program.

The fellow will be awarded the standard Smithsonian postdoctoral stipend. The appointment is for one year initially, with an opportunity for a second year based on successful performance. The starting date is flexible; earlier start dates are preferred.

To apply, send a single PDF file containing a cover letter including a statement of research interest, CV, contact information for three references, and three relevant publications or manuscripts to Lauren Krizel, ForestGEO Program Manager,

Closing date for applications is 31 January 2020. For further information, contact ForestGEO Director, Stuart Davies,

Job Locations: 
Panama City, Panama Washington, DC, USA
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