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Postdoctoral Scholar - Biodiversity of Microbial Nitrogen Cycling in Soil

Northern Arizona University
Arizona, United States
Salary Not specified
Posted Date
Aug 9, 2022

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Business & Management, Other Business & Management
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Postdoctoral Scholar - Biodiversity of Microbial Nitrogen Cycling in Soil

Location: Ecosystem Science & Soc Center
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Job ID: 605807
Full/Part Time: Full-Time

Workplace Culture

NAU is a community devoted to student success and sustained by an unshakable commitment to our shared mission, vision, and values. We—faculty, staff, and administrators—thrive by combining our efforts and working side by side to further NAU's culture of excellence.

Job Description

Position Summary:

The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) at Northern Arizona University (NAU) is seeking applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar position in quantitative microbial ecology. This position will work on one of three recently funded research projects (Department of Energy and National Science Foundation) to investigate microbiome dynamics and nutrient cycling within streams and soils using stable isotope probing, bioinformatics, and modeling. The successful candidates will join a large, active, and highly collaborative research team across several universities and DOE National Laboratories (NAU, UC Berkeley, West Virginia University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). This team seeks to understand the myriad ways in which microorganisms interact with one another, with macro-organisms, and with the abiotic environment to influence biogeochemical processes. We emphasize quantitative approaches and seek candidates who are excited about integrating cutting-edge microbial and bioinformatics techniques with modeling to gain new insights into how ecosystems work.

Project Description:

The biodiversity of microbial nitrogen cycling in soil, with laboratory and field work with quantitative stable isotope probing (qSIP) and biogeochemical modeling to explore taxon-specific rates of nutrient cycling in soils from arctic, boreal, temperate, and tropical systems. The postdoc will work with NAU scientists in Ecoss and collaborating scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and West Virginia University to develop qSIP for soil nutrient cycling.

Primary mentor(s): Dr. Egbert Schwartz and Dr. Bruce Hungate

Essential Functions:

Research & Publications - 75%
  • Work collaboratively with research team to conceive and design experiments and/or data collection and analyses to address primary research questions.
  • Conduct independent experiments and data collection as needed and keep appropriate records of all research activities.
  • Lead data analysis, modeling, coding, and synthesis ef forts as appropriate to the project goals.
  • Design and implement research protocols and adapt new procedures, methods, coding, or instrumentation as appropriate to the project goals.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations of research findings. Prepare and submit manuscripts for publication.
  • Read scientific literature, participate in scientific discussions with other members of the research team and lab, and attend mandatory lab and project meetings.
  • Other administrative and research tasks related to the project, including organizing project meetings and training others in project protocols

Data Metrics - 15%
  • Collect, curate, synthesize, and analyze research data Maintain organized, open, and accessible records of data and computer code.
  • Perform data analysis and visualization and develop efficient data analysis pipelines and/or tools as appropriate to project goals.
  • Tabulate and display data for presentation in research conferences and for manuscript preparation; use graphics and statistical software to analyze and present data.

Grant & Management - 5%
  • Works within the grant-specific project requirements.
  • Assists project PIs with managing grant funds according to sponsor specifications.

Academic/Lab Liason - 5%
  • Perform assigned lab duties to assist in the maintenance of equipment, supplies, reagents or the general operation of the lab, and various other duties or projects as assigned - as appropriate to project goals.
  • Promote an inclusive and welcoming work environment for all

Minimum Qualifications

  • PhD in an appropriate subject discipline
  • Record of publishing peer-reviewed research in top scientific journals

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience developing analytical pipelines for omics and/or ecological data
  • Coursework and/or research experience in microbial ecology, microbiology, genomics, biochemistry,cell biology, soil science, freshwater science, and/or ecosystem ecology.
  • Interest and/or experience promoting STEM diversity and inclusion
  • Demonstrated expertise with modeling and quantitative analysis in R, Python, or other programming languages
  • Strong background in modeling and statistics, including Bayesian and Monte Carlo techniques, parameter estimation, data assimilation, and related methods
  • Fluent with molecular biology techniques (e.g., DNA/RNA manipulation, PCR, qPCR, isotope probing) and next-generation sequencing platforms
  • Experience measuring nutrient concentrations and fluxes in lab and/or field settings

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

  • Ability to work collaboratively as part of a research team and with individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds
  • Ability to take initiative and complete tasks without direct supervision Innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving skills
  • Excellent quantitative and analytical skills Excellent communication skills, as demonstrated by publications and presentations at professional meetings
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills Knowledge of quantitative techniques for integrating data and models, bioinformatics, and microbial ecology

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

Under the recent executive order issued by President Biden requiring all employees of federal contractors to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, NAU expects all employees, including new hires, to be vaccinated unless they have an approved medical or religious accommodation. Proof of vaccination will be required by January 18, 2022. For questions about vaccines and medical or religious accommodations, please visit FAQs for Employee Vaccination Requirement.

Background Information

Northern Arizona University requires satisfactory results for the following: a criminal background investigation, an employment history verification and a degree verification (in some cases) prior to employment. You may also be required to complete a fingerprint background check.

Additionally, as an employer in the state of Arizona, NAU is required to participate in the federal E-Verify program that assists employers with verifying new employees' right to work in the United States.

Finally, each year Northern Arizona University releases an Annual Security Report. The report is a result of a federal law known as the Clery Act. The report includes Clery reportable crime statistics for the three most recent completed calendar years and discloses procedures, practices and programs NAU uses to keep students and employees safe including how to report crimes or other emergencies occurring on campus. In addition, the Fire Safety Report is combined with the Annual Security Report for the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus as this campus has on-campus student housing. This report discloses fire safety policies and procedures related to on-campus student housing and statistics for fires that occurred in those facilities.

If you would like a free paper copy of the report, please contact the NAUPD Records Department at (928) 523-8884 or by visiting the department at 525 E. Pine Knoll Drive in Flagstaff.


Salary range begins at $54,779. Annual salary commensurate with candidate's qualifications and related experience.

FLSA Status

This position is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and therefore will not earn overtime or compensatory time for additional time worked.


Post-Doctoral Scholars are hired on a contract basis, renewable each fiscal year for a maximum of 4 renewals (5 years) according to terms of the Arizona Board of Regents' Conditions of Post-Doctoral Service.

NAU offers an excellent benefit package to Post-Doctoral Scholars including generous health, dental and vision insurance; 10 days of vacation and 10 holidays per year; and tuition reduction for employees and qualified family members. New employees are eligible for benefits on the first day of the pay period following their enrollment, after their employment date. Employees will have 31 days from their start date to enroll in benefits. Participation in NAU retirement plans is not available to Post-Doctoral Scholars. More information on benefits at NAU is available at the NAU HR benefits page.

Learning and Development

Your career at Northern Arizona University includes the opportunity for professional development. New employee on-boarding training includes courses to be completed within the first 30 days. If your position includes the supervision of a benefit-eligible employee, we offer the NAU Supervisors Academy for you to complete within your first 2 years.

Application Deadline

Applications received by January 10,2022 will be given full consideration. Applications received after that date may be considered until the position is filled.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, please click on the "Apply" button on this page. You must submit your application by clicking on the "Submit" button by midnight of the application deadline. If you need assistance completing your application there are instructions available on the Human Resources website or in person in the Human Resources Department located in Building 91 on the NAU Campus - on the corner of Beaver and DuPont Streets.

If you are an individual with a disability and need reasonable accommodation to participate in the hiring process please contact the Office of Equity and Access at: 928-523-3312/TDD - 928-523-1006 or PO Box 4083, Flagstaff AZ 86011.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Northern Arizona University is a committed Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. NAU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples.

EEO is the Law Poster and Supplements

NAU is an Employer of National Service. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other National Service alumni are encouraged to apply.

To apply, visit

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