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Postdoctoral Associate

University of Colorado Boulder
Colorado, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Sep 26, 2022
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Job Summary

The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research is looking for a postdoctoral associate who will:

  1. Analyze soils data from National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites and an ongoing leaf litter decomposition experiment to;
  2. Parameterize the Microbial-Mineral Carbon Stabilization model (MIMICS) in order to better understand trajectories and uncertainties in soil biogeochemical fluxes; and 3) Project potential changes in soil organic matter storage and turnover that may be expected under climate change scenarios.

The postdoctoral associate will lead the development of soil biogeochemical modeling efforts using NEON observations and the Community Land Model (CLM). Simulations will focus on soil biogeochemical dynamics at single point scales across gradients with and among NEON sites. Special focus for the work will be to evaluate the fidelity of simulated abiotic (snow, soil moisture and soil temperature), biotic (plant productivity), and biogeochemical (soil carbon and nitrogen) dynamics using diverse NEON data streams as well as experimental data collected as part of this project. Dr. Will Wieder will supervise the postdoctoral associate who will be based in Boulder to work with data and collaborators at Yale University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Nature Conservancy.

Applicants should have a PhD in ecology, biology, hydrology or related field (completed degree within three months of start of job) and firsthand experience with data harmonization and exposure to modeling with CLM, MIMICS or other models. This position requires an independent, organized, and motivated individual with demonstrated research skills. The successful candidate will be someone genuinely excited by research with a strong desire to learn how to integrate ecological observations to calibrate model parameterizations. Above all, the candidate must be personable and enthusiastic about working in a collaborative group environment.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

As the University's oldest institute, INSTAAR has a long history of responding to pressing environmental issues including climate change. Our traditional focus has been on alpine, Arctic, and Antarctic regions, where effects of global change are especially pronounced. In recent decades, our research has broadened to include environmental challenges that span local, regional, and global scales. INSTAAR’s research activities integrate field studies, state-of-the-art laboratory experiments, sample analysis, and numerical and laboratory modeling. Our field sites are located across all seven continents and the world's oceans.

Our expertise across disciplines helps us generate influential science that can inform public and policy decisions and move us toward a more sustainable society. INSTAAR's national and international research leadership is augmented by exceptional strength in graduate education and bringing undergraduates into the research process.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be
  • The core of this position will be in parameterizing, evaluating and modifying simulations with MIMICS configured to replicate laboratory incubations, field decomposition experiments, and within and among site variation in soil biogeochemical dynamics.
  • MIMICS or CLM will be configured to run for single point simulations for vegetation communities at focal NEON study sites.
  • Initially the project will build on existing parameter estimation and uncertainty quantification tools built for MIMICS with a focus on calibrating fluxes based on measurements from a laboratory litter decomposition experiment.
  • Subsequent model validation will occur using measurements from an ongoing field leaf litter decomposition that collaborators at Yale University are leading.
  • Experience running models like MIMICS or CLM is not a requirement for this position, but a willingness to learn how to run the models will be critical for this work.
  • As the project matures there may be an opportunity to integrate additional data (especially from microbial community analyses) from laboratory incubations and field samples.
What You Should Know

All University of Colorado Boulder employees are required to comply with the campus COVID-19 vaccine requirement . New employees must provide proof of vaccination or receive a medical or religious exemption within 30 days of employment.

What We Can Offer

$55,000 per year at 50% time plus benefits through CU Boulder.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits , including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder .

Be Statements
Be ambitious. Be groundbreaking. Be Boulder.

What We Require
  • A PhD.
What You Will Need
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • The desire to work as part of a team to achieve goals.
  • Demonstrated ability to self-motivate and help keep your team motivated when challenges arise.
  • The ability to remain organized and focused amidst a variety of tasks, and creatively solve problems as they arise.
  • The ability to contribute to a diverse and inclusive workforce.
What We Would Like You To Have

Please note that while this position details both required and desired skills and experience, applicants do not need to have all of the desired skills and experience to be considered. If you meet the minimum qualifications, have passion for the work and some experience in a related field, you are encouraged to apply. We provide on-the-job training for skills and knowledge relevant to the position.
  • Theoretical and empirical expertise in soil biogeochemistry and/or ecosystem ecology.
  • Proficiency working with large environmental datasets and demonstrated experience with data harmonization, complex analysis structures, online data dissemination and data publication.
  • Strong quantitative and statistical skills accompanied by programming expertise in R, Python, and spatial data analysis platforms.
  • Knowledge and expertise with field and laboratory methods commonly used to quantify plant physiological traits.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct independent research and publish in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
  • Coding experience of any kind in R, Python, Fortran, Matlab, or others.
  • Previous fieldwork experience.
  • The ability to work on multiple projects both as part of a team, and independently to achieve goals and solve problems as they arise.
  • Flexibility to rearrange priorities and expectations as the research project matures.
Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:
  • Resume or CV.
  • A brief cover letter with answers to the application questions below.
  1. Why are you interested in this position? Why do you think you would be a good fit for this job? What will you bring to the job that other applicants may not?
  2. Describe any relevant experience you have through, e.g. jobs, volunteering, course work, etc.
  3. INSTAAR is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the diversity of scientific communities. Please describe how you, based on your personal background and life experiences (including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges) will contribute to this mission during your time at INSTAAR (200 words or less).
  4. Where did you hear about this job?

If you are selected as the finalist, your degree will be verified by the CU Boulder Campus Human Resources department using an approved online vendor. If your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version (if applicable) as an optional attachment.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Posting will remain active until 9/29/22.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs.

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Boulder Campus Human Resources

Posting Contact Email:

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