Isotope Geochemistry Postdoctoral Fellow - 95202

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 biominerals, including amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonates, 100% biogenic.

Your research will focus on developing a fundamental understanding of the effect that phase transitions occurring during biomineral formation have on both isotopic and elemental compositions. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how conversion of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) to carbonate biominerals (e.g., calcite) controls the isotopic and chemical composition of the final biomineral. The Postdoctoral Fellow research will be done using x-ray and infrared spectromicroscopies at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) and isotope geochemistry at UC Berkeley. The overarching goal is to (i) observe whether the isotopic and chemical compositions of ACC precursors and the final biomineral differ from one another and therefore (ii) the extent of isotope or element exchange reactions during the various phase transitions that turn ACC into the final biominerals.

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 world-class expertise and capabilities provides a vibrant environment for collaborative, interdisciplinary science. In addition to the ESA, this position 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. The postdoctoral researcher will learn from Gilbert and Stolper methods in spectromicroscopy and isotope geochemistry. The candidate is expected to independently conduct innovative experiments, collect, analyse, and interpret results from the above studies, and draft manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

What You Will Do:

  • Conduct research using bulk geochemical and isotopic techniques (Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, d13C, d18O, Δ47, and d44Ca) of biominerals grown in their natural environments across a range of environments to reveal how measured compositions vary with environmental conditions and thus determine if/how biomineral formation via amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) precursors alters the chemical and isotopic composition of the final biomineral.
  • Conduct research using Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy to reveal if isotopic signatures are observable with FTIR in calcium carbonate biominerals and non-biogenic crystals of aragonite and calcite. Specifically, this research will reveal if and how the isotopic signatures are affected by biomineral formation via ACC precursors.
  • Conduct research using PhotoEmission Electron Microscopy (PEEM) at the ALS to reveal amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonate phases in fresh, forming biominerals to reveal the spatial distribution of phases and phase transitions in natural calcium carbonate biominerals.
  • Prepare biomineral samples for, acquire, process, and interpret data from geochemical, FTIR, and PEEM experiments on natural biominerals.
  • 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.

What is Required:

  • Ph.D. (obtained or planned and the time of application) in Earth Science, geochemistry, (geo)biology, physics, materials science, chemical engineering, or other related fields with a geochemistry focus.
  • Experience in biomineralization of calcium carbonates, either crystalline, amorphous, or both crystalline and amorphous.
  • Experience in characterization, with any methods, of natural calcium carbonates biominerals.
  • 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 1-6
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV), including a complete list of your publications and talks.
  • A list of 3 references and their e-mail addresses
  • Research proposal (optional, 1 page)

How To Apply

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

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posted: 30 June 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.