Isotope Geochemistry Postdoctoral Fellow - 95201

Organization: CH-Chemical Sciences

The Chemical Sciences Division (CSD, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL, has an opening for an isotope geochemistry Postdoctoral Fellow to study stable isotopes and trace elements in amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonates, 100% synthetic.

Your research will focus on providing a fundamental understanding of the effects on the isotopic and elemental composition of carbonate minerals due to phase transitions from amorphous precursors. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how conversion of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) to carbonate minerals (e.g., calcite) controls the isotopic and chemical composition of the final carbonate mineral. We propose to employ isotopic tracers including δ13C, δ18O, and clumped isotopes measurements made at UC Berkeley as well as trace element ratio measurements (e.g., Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca) and calcium and strontium isotope measurements (δ44Ca and 87Sr/86Sr) made at LBNL to address this problem. The overarching goal is to (i) develop a process-based understanding of whether and, if so, why the isotopic and chemical compositions of ACC differs from the final mineral and (ii) the extent of isotope exchange reactions during the various phase transitions that turn ACC into a final mineral form.

Berkeley Lab's Energy Sciences Area (ESA) consists of the Materials Sciences Division, Chemical Sciences Division, and two national user facilities: The ALS, a synchrotron facility, and the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience research center. This combination of leading expertise and capabilities provides a vibrant environment for collaborative, interdisciplinary science. In addition to the ESA, you will be closely connected to the UC Berkeley Earth and Planetary Science Department, and the lab's Energy Geoscience Division (EGD), both of which have long-standing expertise in isotope geochemistry. "Chemistry of CaCO3 phase transitions", an award to PI Gilbert and co-PI Stolper, is funded through the Department of Energy-BES-Geosciences program, which focuses on understanding fundamental chemistry in earth sciences. You will learn from Stolper and Gilbert methods in isotope geochemistry and spectromicroscopy. You are expected to independently conduct innovative experiments, collect, analyze, and interpret results from the above studies, and draft manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

What You Will Do:

  • Synthesize hydrated amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC-H2O) and convert it to crystalline phases.
  • Characterize synthetic products with various methods, including x-ray diffraction, Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy, Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA).
  • Prepare samples and measure chemical and isotopic compositions including Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, δ13C, δ18O, Δ47, 44Ca, and 87Sr/86Sr before and after phase transitions.
  • Interpret the chemical and isotopic data and develop conceptual and quantitative models to describe the experimental results.
  • Participate in weekly and biweekly meetings and seminars.
  • Publish original research in peer-reviewed journals; contribute to scientific publications; present research through talks and posters at conferences, workshops, and multi-investigator meetings.
  • Uphold a culture of safety and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Optional Responsibilities:

  • Synthesize Polymer-Induced Liquid Precursor (PILP).
  • Make PILP solidify to ACC, then crystallize, and observe, where possible, before and after phase transitions, differences in Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, δ13C, δ18O, Δ47, 44Ca, and 87Sr/86Sr.
  • Conduct research using FTIR spectroscopy to reveal if isotopic signatures of formation from PILP, from ACC, or from both PILP and ACC precursors are observable with FTIR spectroscopy, and if these differ from calcite grown ion by ion.

What is Required:

  • Ph.D. (obtained or planned at the time of application) in Earth Science, geochemistry, chemistry, physics, materials science, chemical engineering, or other related fields with a geochemistry focus.
  • Experience in synthesizing minerals, either amorphous, crystalline, or both amorphous and crystalline.
  • Experience in characterization, with any methods, of the synthesized calcium carbonates.
  • Experience with isotopic or chemical measurements to characterize natural or synthetic materials.
  • Ability to work independently and creatively in designing experiments.
  • Creative and independent problem solver with a track record of tackling research projects from initiation to meaningful conclusion.
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully work in teams and collaborate with researchers of various backgrounds.

Required Application Materials:

  • The following materials must be submitted with your application to be considered for this position.
  • Cover Letter - Describe in a few lines your interest in this position.
  • Resume - Describe in 1 page the relevance of your qualifications to those required above, numbered 1-7.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV), including a complete list of your publications and presentations.
  • A list of 3 references and their e-mail addresses.
  • Research proposal (optional, 1 page).


  • This is a full-time, 1 year, postdoctoral appointment with the possibility of renewal based upon satisfactory job performance, continuing availability of funds, and ongoing operational needs. You must have less than 4 years of paid postdoctoral experience. Salary for postdoctoral positions depends on years of experience post-degree.
  • This position is represented by a union for collective bargaining purposes.
  • Salary will be predetermined based on postdoctoral step rates.
  • This position may be subject to a background check. Any convictions will be evaluated to determine if they directly relate to the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Having a conviction history will not automatically disqualify an applicant from being considered for employment.
  • Work will be primarily performed at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA.

How To Apply

Apply directly online at and follow the on-line instructions to complete the application process.

Based on University of California Policy - SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program and U.S Federal Government requirements, Berkeley Lab requires that all members of our community obtain the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. As a condition of employment at Berkeley Lab, all Covered Individuals must Participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program by providing proof of Full Vaccination or submitting a request for Exception or Deferral. Visit ( for more information.

Berkeley Lab is committed to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) and strives to continue building community with these shared values and commitments. Berkeley Lab is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We heartily welcome applications from women, minorities, veterans, and all who would contribute to the Lab's mission of leading scientific discovery, inclusion, and professionalism. In support of our diverse global community, all qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status.

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posted: 06 April 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.