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Funded PhD opportunity: rebalancing the nitrogen cycle by developing low-impact fertilizers, University of Pittsburgh

The Pitt Isotope Tracers Lab, directed by Professor Emily Elliott in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA), is hiring 1-2 graduate students at the PhD level to work on an innovative, interdisciplinary, and newly-funded NSF project. The project aim is the development and testing of low-impact, liposomal carriers of nitrogen-based fertilizers that will reduce nitrogen leaching losses from agricultural soils.

The PhD student(s) will join an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers in designing and testing liposome-N carriers. The PhD student(s) will be responsible for model soil column and plant experiments that quantify nitrogen fluxes and leaching losses of liposome carriers using stable isotope tracers and scaling results to predict gains in watershed-scale nitrogen retention. We are specifically looking for applicants interested in sustainable agriculture, plant/soil interactions, isotope tracers, and nutrient dynamics. The PhD student(s) will join a team of scientists and engineers including Leanne Gilberston (Pitt, Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Steve Little (Pitt, Chemical Engineering). The research team will engage with stakeholders through the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory, housed at the University of Pittsburgh and the public through programming at the University of Pittsburgh’s field station, Pymatuning Lab of Ecology.

Candidates from diverse disciplinary backgrounds (including agronomy, soil/crop science, engineering, botany) are welcome, however prior research experience with stable isotopes, plant/soil systems, or biogeochemistry is preferred. Ideal candidates will be highly motivated, curious, innovative and have strong communication and teamwork skills. Further information regarding application materials can be found here (How to Apply | Department of Geology and Environmental Science | University of Pittsburgh).

The PhD student(s) will join the Pitt Isotope Tracers research team focused on understanding reactive nitrogen dynamics using stable isotope bio/geochemistry. More information about the Pitt Isotope Tracers Lab can be found on the lab website <http://www.pitt.edu/~eelliott/index.html>. Interested candidates should contact Dr. Elliott directly ([email protected]) with an email explaining educational goals and research experience, along with a CV and prior publications (or other writing sample). The Elliott lab is motivated to maintain a diverse and inclusive lab environment; students from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.

Ideal candidates will be available for start date in early summer (preferably) or Fall 2022. The application deadline is January 15, 2022.


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