[ES_JOBS_NET] PhD Graduate Assistantships in Soil Biogeochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Tennessee

Sean Schaeffer sschaef5 at utk.edu
Thu Sep 25 13:15:46 MDT 2014

We are seeking 2 PhD students to work on a large 
multidisciplinary/multi-institutional project investigating the use of 
biodegradable plastic mulches in agriculture. These mulches are used to 
conserve water, suppress weeds and increase soil temperature, and they 
are a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastics. This 
project involves research (from faculty) on all aspects of mulch 
utilization including: material design (bioprocess engineers), 
application (specialty crop agronomists), biodegradation and soil 
quality (soil scientists), barriers to adoption (economists), and public 
perception (social scientists). Potential areas of study include:

1. Biogeochemistry: Determine how use of these materials influences soil 
carbon storage and nitrogen cycling, and what environmental factors 
influence mulch degradation rates in soils.
2. Microbiology: Identify the microbes and pathways involved in 
biodegradation of these materials, using both cultivation-dependent and 
independent (i.e. molecular) techniques.

Projects will involve both laboratory and field work at the University 
of Tennessee and Washington State University. Assistantships include 
tuition, 12 month stipend and health insurance.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is the state's flagship research 
institution. We are located in East Tennessee close to Oak Ridge 
National Laboratory and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 
Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science comprises an 
energetic group of tenure-track, research, teaching, and extension 
faculty, and >100 graduate and undergraduate students.

-MS in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Microbiology or related 
field; OR a BS in one of these fields plus research experience
-Excellent written and oral English skills
-Willingness to conduct field research and ability to drive a motor vehicle
-Experience in stable isotopes, biogeochemistry and/or molecular 
microbial ecology desirable

Start date: January 2015

To apply, please submit a CV and a cover letter describing your 
experience and qualifications to:
Dr. Jennifer DeBruyn (jdebruyn at utk.edu) and Dr. Sean Schaeffer 
(sschaef5 at utk.edu)

Sean Schaeffer
Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science
2506 E.J. Chapman Dr.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN 37996-4531
phone: 865-974-7366
fax: 865-974-4514
sschaef5 at utk.edu

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