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Research Associate

University of Sheffield

Sheffield, United Kingdom


The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences seeks an enthusiastic postdoctoral research associate to undertake research investigating the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 and phosphorus nutrient supply on grassland ecosystems in the NERC funded project ‘PLACE’ (Phosphorus Limitation and ecosystem responses to Carbon dioxide Enrichment). The limitation that P supply might impose on an ecosystem’s ability to sequester more C in an elevated CO2 world has been highlighted as a core research need by the IPCC. This project is directly aimed at addressing that research need.

PLACE is a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Exeter, where you will work with Dr Gareth Phoenix and Prof Jonathan Leake (University of Sheffield) and Dr Iain Hartley (University of Exeter).

The position will suit a researcher with experience in ecosystem biogeochemistry, and plant and soil responses to CO2 or nutrient limitation. You will have a PhD in a relevant biological or geoscience subject (or have equivalent experience) and
have experience of quantifying ecosystem carbon and/ or nutrient fluxes and budgets.

You can view the supporting documentation by clicking on About the Job and About the University located near the top of your screen.

Job Description

Main Duties and Responsibilities
• Maintain the FACE experiment, upkeep technical equipment, manage regular deliveries of CO2, and liaise with technical experts in trouble shooting.
• Maintain grassland mesocosms within the FACE experiment, including maintenance of nutrient treatments, annual biomass harvests and vegetation surveys. Continue nutrient treatments to grassland field site in the Peak District National Park where grassland mesocosms originate.
• Manage automated CO2 flux monitoring equipment, including flux data analysis and data management
• Undertake sampling of plant and soil microbial biomass, soils and leachate, with subsequent analysis for carbon and nutrients.
• Undertake work at the University of Exeter on soil carbon cycling and analysis of carbon flux data.
• Regular driving to FACE field site (approx. 7 miles from Sheffield University) and occasional visits to apply nutrients to original grassland field site (approx. 17 miles from Sheffield University). Organise car or van hire where necessary.
• Undertake lone working at field sites following agreed safety guidelines.
• Use lab biochemistry, molecular and metabolomics approaches in microbial biomass, soil enzyme and root function studies.
• Establish pot-scale plant bioassay experiments to understand root functioning responses.
• Record and archive data carefully and accurately.
• Analyse data, write manuscripts and present at conferences.
• Communicate effectively and form good working relationships with research group members.
• Contribute to the supervision of postgraduate students.
• Read academic papers, journals and textbooks and attend conferences to keep abreast of developments.
• Any other duties, commensurate with the grade of the post.


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