Soil Ecology Research Associate

Position Type

A Research Associate-Fixed Term (Postdoc) position is available in the lab of Dr. Lisa Tiemann ( at Michigan State University to work within the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC; The GLBRC is one of four national bioenergy research centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. There are multiple labs involved in the GLBRC at MSU and the University of Wisconsin and multiple opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations. In particular, this position will work in close collaboration with the MSU Insects and Landscape Ecology lab of Dr. Doug Landis ( and the Plant Research Laboratory of Dr. Berkley Walker ( The research will focus on how soil trophic interactions control belowground allocation rates and fate of net primary productivity. For example, we are examining how consumption of mycorrhizal fungi by soil nematodes or microarthropods may indirectly affect soil carbon dynamics as well as plant growth. We are also interested in exploring how plant root residues and exudates might be altered by microarthropod feeding, and lead to changes in microbial community structure, diversity, and function, thus influencing rates of soil C accrual. Overall, we seek to understand key parts of microbial C cycling as influenced by plant and invertebrate diversity, which will change the timing and diversity of root exudates as well as residues. By processing plant material, invertebrates alter the quality, quantity, and timing of both plant detrital and root exudate inputs to soil microbial communities, with significant implications for C cycling.

The position will include some combination of the following activities: Assisting with field work in research sites across Michigan and Wisconsin; conducting and/or coordinating biogeochemical analyses, including 13CO2 stable isotope pulse-chase experiments and stable isotope probing; molecular work including DNA and RNA extraction and sample preparation for sequencing; data analysis and manuscript preparation; presentation of results at national and international scientific meetings. In addition, the research associate will assist with lab organization and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students and engage in a stimulating research environment created by multiple researchers working on coordinated aspects of the project. The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. with a research focus in soil ecology, soil microbiology, soil science, biogeochemistry, or a closely related field with preference given to those with experience working with mycorrhizal fungi and/or soil fauna. Strong candidates will also possess the following attributes: A strong publication record from their Ph.D. (papers published, in press, or submitted); creativity, independence, and the desire to learn new things; excellent communication skills, both written and oral.

The position is renewable annually, contingent upon funding and/or job performance. A start date of September 1, 2020 is preferred, but alternative timelines will be considered and should be noted in the cover letter. Candidates should also be prepared for a potentially delayed start date due to potential for additional campus closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All questions about the position should be submitted to: Lisa Tiemann  

Applications must be submitted online through the MSU jobs page:

Applications must include:

  1. a brief cover letter (no more than 2-pages) that highlights past research accomplishments, how your previous experience will benefit this project and your future research goals
  2. a curriculum vitae
  3. names and contact information for three references.
Deadline to Apply