Postdoctoral Research Associate II: Molecular Biogeochemistry of Soil Organic Carbon at the Continental Scale

University of Maryland, College Park, USA

The Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry Group in the Department of Geology, also affiliated with the Department of Environmental Science and Technology (ENST), at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), MD, USA is seeking candidates for a postdoctoral position to work on molecular biogeochemistry of soil organic carbon (SOC) at the continental scale. The objectives of the research project are to test and improve the current SOC theories and to identify controlling environmental factors using a combination of continental-scale soil sampling, and molecular-scale characterization (e.g., FT ICR MS) and biomarker analyses (e.g., amino-sugars and lignin phenol). Hundreds of soil samples were already collected from major ecoclimatic domains of the United States, and physically separated into different functional fractions. The characterization of these samples has also been completed, and the dataset is ready to use. The post-doc will use advanced statistical techniques to analyze the dataset against the current SOC theories and to quantify contributions of climatic and edaphic variables to SOC dynamics.

This is a two-year project with a potential extension to the third year, depending on the availability of research funding. The starting annual salary is $70,000 with full benefits and possible raises each year.

Requirement for consideration of applications includes:

  1. A Ph.D. degree in appropriate areas of soil science, biogeochemistry, geochemistry, microbial ecology, or a closely related field.
  2. Strong statistical skills
  3. Expertise on SOC theories and characterization
  4. Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  5. Teamwork skills
  6. Work independently

The post-doc will be associated with both Geology and ENST departments, with ENST housing the Soil Science program at UMD. The post-doc will have opportunities to attend academic conferences, teach or give guest lectures, and mentor graduate students in the group.

The University of Maryland is a leader in research related to Climate, Sustainability, Energy, and Preservation of the Chesapeake Bay. The Department of Geology houses various state-of-the-art mass spectrometry instruments, including the recently purchased Nu Instruments Panoroma Mass spectrometer which is very powerful for studying C cycling. With the instrument, scientists use measurements of isotopic species, isotopologues and isotope ratios (such as for CH4) to obtain fundamental and useful information about the cycling of environmental molecules of relevance in past and present natural environments. The post-doc will have opportunities to learn these techniques and use them for research, in addition to those listed above (FT ICR MS, biomarker, etc.)

Applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vita, and names and contact information for at least 3 referees who can provide a letter of recommendation upon request, to Dr. Mengqiang (Mike) Zhu, In the cover letter, applicants need to state research interests and experience addressing the criteria listed above and give a date of availability. All documents must be submitted as a single pdf file. The application review will start immediately and continues until the position is filled. The anticipated project start date is September 1, 2023, but a later start date for the successful candidate can be considered. For more information regarding the position, please contact Dr. Zhu at

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,700 students, 14,000 faculty and staff, and nearly 400,000 alumni all dedicated to the pursuit of Fearless Ideas. Located just outside Washington, D.C., we discover and share new knowledge every day through our renowned research enterprise and programs in academics, the arts and athletics. And we are committed to social entrepreneurship as the nation's first "Do Good" campus.

posted: 07 August 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.