The Earth Surface Science group at Queen Mary University of London are seeking a 36-month postdoc with expertise in terrestrial biogeochemical modelling. This post is part of an exciting new collaborative project with CU Boulder, U Utah, Montana Tech & British Geological Survey, investigating the fate of Arctic soil following glacier retreat. Glacier retreat is exposing pioneer Arctic soils that host a dynamic ecosystem and act as biogeochemical reactors. The aim of this project is to improve the understanding of how seasonal processes contribute to the long-term (i.e. multi-decadal) development of Arctic soils. The PDRA will develop, implement and apply a new fully coupled biogeochemical-geophysical model for pioneer Arctic soils. These activities are linked to a larger project whose wider ambition is to achieve continuous year-round monitoring of dynamic processes using a network of buried geophysical sensors in a High-Arctic glacier forefield, and repeated field monitoring of soil biogeochemical processes via state-of-the-art molecular techniques. Numerical modelling will be instrumental in forming mechanistic linkages between seasonal variations, and soil biogeochemical, geophysical and hydrogeological processes over multi-decadal timescales, as well as to capture and explore year-round dynamics of Arctic soils, and conduct predictive modelling of the future fate of Arctic soils following large-scale ice retreat and climate warming. Model development and calibration will make use of field datasets that will be collected during year-round fieldwork campaigns throughout 2020 and 2021, There will be opportunities for the PDRA to participate in project-related fieldwork activities in Svalbard. The PDRA will work within a multidisciplinary team with significant strengths in environmental-biogeochemistry, modelling, geomicrobiology, and geophysical sensing – and thus develop an interdisciplinary skill set, and collaborate nationally and internationally. Deadline: Apply before March 20, 2020 for full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.
The Arctic plays host to a diverse range of microorganisms, including bacteria, algae, and viruses. The activity (or inactivity) or these microorganisms impacts the carbon and nutrient cycling among glaciers and soils, as well as the fertilization and productivity of Polar fjords and oceans, and the albedo of ice surfaces and thus the rate of sea-level rise. Microorganisms in cryospheric habitats must overcome a multitude of environmental stresses, including the freezing of water, desiccation, nutrient deficiencies, and exposure to UV irradiation. To counteract the potentially damaging effects of their harsh environment, they have evolved a range of adaptations. During extended periods of extremely harsh conditions (such as winter), dormancy is essential to enable life to persist. The PhD project seeks to measure the level of activity and dormancy of microorganisms from of a number of Arctic settings including glaciers and soils. This project will develop novel methods to determine the activity of microbial communities from Arctic habitats in situ and in the lab, and will involve laboratory and computational methods, with a possibility of Arctic fieldwork. The student will collaborate within a multi-disciplinary team across Queen Mary University of London and the Natural History Museum. The project would suit a student with an interest in environmental microbiology and biogeochemistry, and Arctic climate change. Opportunities for funding include London NERC DTP and QMUL Principal’s Postgraduate Research Studentships. For further information about the project, eligibility and future application deadlines in 2019/20, please contact Dr James Bradley.
The deep subsurface biosphere contains a vast proportion of Earth’s microbial life and organic carbon. In deep, energy-limited settings, microorganisms persist over extraordinarily long timescales with very slow metabolisms – constituting an important analogue to the potential for life beyond Earth. However, the subsurface is notoriously difficult to study because of its remoteness and limited access, as well as the low biomass concentrations and energy fluxes associated with microbial activity. Therefore, numerical models are pivotal in addressing how microorganisms endure, proliferate, and assemble in deep subsurface settings, and understanding the selective environmental pressures that determine energetic trade-offs between growth and maintenance activities. This PhD project provides the opportunity to work at the frontier of deep biosphere science by developing a microbially-explicit model for the subsurface. This model will provide quantitative insight into microbial and geochemical coupling in deep marine or terrestrial settings, and insight into the energetic limit of life. The project would suit a computational and numerate student with an interest in life in extreme environments, biogeochemistry, and microbial-biogeochemical modelling. Opportunities for funding include London NERC DTP and QMUL Principal’s Postgraduate Research Studentships. For further information about the project, eligibility and future application deadlines in 2019/20, please contact Dr James Bradley.