College of Sciences and Mathematics
Department of Geosciences

PhD Position in Paleolimnology and Paleo-Cyanotoxins in subtropical lakes during the Holocene

A PhD Assistantship at Auburn University is available to study the triggers of cyanotoxin production (microcystin and cylindrospermopsin) throughout the Holocene utilizing paleolimnological techniques. The position will be advised by Dr. Matthew Waters of Auburn University and is funded through the National Science Foundation. The student will be part of a 3-graduate student team investigating cyanotoxin production from modern to ~10,000 years before present in subtropical and tropical lake systems. The student will reconstruct nutrient inputs (C, N, P), cyanobacteria abundance (photosynthetic pigments), and paleo-cyanotoxins from sediment cores collected from 6 lakes throughout the southeastern USA. Through collaboration with the project team, these results will be integrated into a multi-lake, multivariate data set that will be used to identify the drivers of cyanotoxin production through time in the SE USA. The project offers the opportunity to gain experience in field data collection, paleolimnological techniques, statistical analysis, interdisciplinary collaboration, and stakeholder interaction.

Applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will be considered, including paleolimnology/paleoecology, ecology, geosciences, soil sciences, and environmental sciences. Applicants from under-served groups in STEM are highly encouraged to apply. Experience with soil/sediment analysis, HPLC, cyanotoxin analysis, paleolimnology or limnology is preferred. Applicants should have completed a MS degree by the project start date. The student will be enrolled in the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences PhD program at Auburn University, an R1 public research university in Auburn, Alabama, USA. A competitive stipend and tuition waiver will be provided over the three-to four-year duration of the project. Expected start date is summer or fall 2021.

Review of applicants will begin Nov. 15, 2020.

For an example of a similar pilot-study for the project, please see: DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9943-0.

Interested students should contact Dr. Matthew Waters ( with a CV and brief statement of research experience and interests. Applicants must be eligible to study in the USA.

The Paleolimnology Forum (PALEOLIM) deals with all aspects of paleolimnology. The Forum also is the official listservice for the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA). Information about IPA is available at:

posted: 14 October 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.