A USDA funded Ph.D. graduate research assistantship, starting in Spring of 2021, is jointly available in the Soil Biogeochemistry and Soil Microbial Ecology Groups in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. We seek a highly-motivated Ph.D. student to conduct research on improving soil health, biodiversity, and productivity of irrigated meadows. This is an interdisciplinary study that will benefit from a student with experience in both field and laboratory research. The ideal candidate will have a BS and/or M.S. degree in soil science, (bio)geochemistry, environmental science, or closely related discipline with a strong interest in soil biogeochemistry, soil microbiology, ecology, statistics, and modelling.

Project summary: Irrigated meadows above 2000-m elevation are crucial but under-performing components of livestock operations in rangeland agroecosystems. Nutrient availability is key to sustainable agriculture, but irrigated meadows concentrate organic materials above the soil, constraining microbial-mediated N cycling, binding nutrients, and limiting productivity and biodiversity. Improved understanding of linkages among soil organic matter processes, management, and ecosystem services is necessary for long-term resilience. Our goal is to develop process-level understanding in support of management that improves soil health, biodiversity, and productivity of irrigated meadows. Soils will be sampled in meadows with different long-term management scenarios, and will be analyzed for a variety of properties and SOM processes that affect N availability with integrated quantification of labile C and N components, organic matter C and N speciation (C and N K-edge XANES spectroscopy and Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry), microbial community composition and function using phospholipid fatty acid analysis, extracellular enzyme activity, and C-substrate utilization. Data will be integrated with structural equation modeling to better understand causal linkages in processes that result in limited N availability.

For more information, please contact Dr. Linda Van Diepen, Assistant Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology at [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>   (, and Dr. Mengqiang “Mike” Zhu, Associate Professor of Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry at [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>   (

If you would like to apply for this position, email Drs. van Diepen and Zhu with “Soil Health graduate assistantship” as the subject line. Include the following in a single pdf: 1) statement of interest; 2) complete CV; 3) unofficial GRE scores; 4) unofficial transcripts; and 5) contact information for 3 references. For applicants who have a thesis-based master’s degree, GRE scores can be waived. International applicants also need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Please contact Drs. van Diepen and Zhu if you have any questions about the position. Applications (emailed pdf) will be reviewed as they arrive and given full consideration if received by November 1st, 2020.

The ESM department at UW has a great SOILS group, with experts in pedology, soil physics, soil chemistry, soil fertility, and soil microbiology. The University of Wyoming is located in Laramie, Wyoming, and is only 1 hour from Fort Collins, Colorado, and ~ 2 hrs from Denver International Airport. From Laramie you have easy access to a multitude of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowshoeing in wintertime and mountain biking and hiking in the summertime.

The University of Wyoming is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law and University policy. Please see<>.