New postdoc position – Trait-based ecology, ecophysiology, and remote sensing


The Enquist lab is looking for a new postdoctoral position to start spring 2017

Postdoctoral Position – The College of Science at the University of Arizona is seeking to fill a position in trait-based ecology, ecophysiology, and remote sensing. This postdoc will be based in the Enquist lab at the University of Arizona but will primarily work closely with an interdisciplinary group of researchers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic Colorado. This position will be filled by February 2017 and is funded by the Department of Energy via a collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

The Enquist has been conducting long-term research at the Rocky Mountain Biological lab monitoring plant community species and trait composition, ecophysiology, and ecosystem CO2 fluxes across an elevational gradient. In addition, the lab group has been developing trait-based scaling theory, and additional research experience in macroecology and plant eco-physiology. Our RMBL group has also been starting to monitor and quantify phenology and community and ecosystem functioning remotely using various method including time-lapse photography and hyperspectral imagery.  The data and expertise from this work will provide a baseline for new research on the role of changing snowmelt (including experimental manipulation of snowpack) and climate on the dynamics of montane and alpine plant communities and ecosystems.IMG_3446

We are looking for a candidate to:

  • Lead novel research to link natural and experimental shifts in snowmelt dynamics with plant community composition and functioning. The goal is to scale how shifts in trait composition influences ecosystem functioning.
  • Continue long-term monitoring and measuring vegetation phenology, physiology, and functional trait composition
  • Work with a collaborative group of earth system scientists – including hydrologists, ecosystem ecologists, microbial ecologists, and remote sensing scientists to link how vegetation influences landscape and watershed-level processes. Key collaborators include Heidi Steltzer, Ken Williams, and Eoin Brodie.
  • Monitor and measuring montane and alpine ecosystem-level CO­2 and H2O flux  and vegetation phenology across an elevational gradient
  • Link remote sensed measurements from phenocam to ground based measurements. This will involve working with remote sensing collaborators on the project.IMG_3371

The post-doc’s main responsibility will be to lead (i) integration of plant diversity monitoring with measures of plant functional traits, ecophysiology as well as ecosystem measures of CO2 and H20 fluxes; (ii) leading novel science aimed at predicting how shifts in snowmelt and climate influence plant community composition and ecosystem functioning.  The successful candidate will lead a novel research program that leverages the lab’s long-term monitoring with new remote sensing efforts. In particular, the Enquist lab has collected 13 years of long-term monitoring data across seven sites, including the RMBL experimental warming site, that include: (i) above-ground daytime and nighttime water and carbon fluxes; (ii) soil respiration; (iii) Net Primary Productivity; (iv) portable weather station data; (v) long-term soil temperature and snow melt data; (vi) plant community functional trait composition, including leaf nutrient and isotope content; (vii) climate, and species-level eco-physiology measurements along the elevational gradient;  (viii) site-level phenology measures from continuous growing season camera (phenocam) measurements.14483152974_cdf856cd30_k

The candidate is expected to take advantage of these long-term data and expertise of the collaborative network by forming new collaborations that combine novel methods and techniques. The collaborative and cross-scale nature of this project will require both the modification of existing analytical methods and the development of new statistical tools, and results from this work will help foster better projections of how plant diversity and productivity will respond to future climate change. The project also presents opportunities to develop curricular materials and mentor undergraduate and graduate research, in order to help train the next generation of researchers in the unique skills necessary to work with cross-scale data to address global environmental problems.image

Candidates are expected to be collaborative yet independent, highly motivated problem solvers who communicate well and enjoy working both in the field and in a laboratory/computational environment. The ideal candidate would have a background in some combination of ecophysiology, plant ecology, trait-based ecology, macroecology, and remote sensing.  Knowledge and interest in theory/mathematical modeling or data science/informatics is beneficial, and well-developed experience with R, SQL, Python, or similar programming languages is preferred. Applicants with only a subset of these skills are still encouraged to apply, and the post-doc will have multiple opportunities for close mentorship and training in research, communication, education, and professional development.

Applications and any questions should be sent to 

The application should include: a Curriculum Vitae that details education, past research, and publications. Applicants should also submit a cover letter that describes their interest in the project and the names of three references. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled ~ February 2017.

As an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, the University of Arizona recognizes the power of a diverse community and encourages applications from individuals with varied experiences, perspectives and backgrounds. The University of Arizona is a major research university allowing access to myriad researchers and resources that could be useful to this project. University of Arizona is one of the top national research universities. Tucson is a beautiful city surrounded by the Sonoran Desert and Sky Island forested mountains. The city is vibrant, and diverse with a wide array of arts and culture, including world-class museums, theater, music, and cuisine and culture. The University is located in a growing walkable urban core that offers one of the Wests best up and coming music and social scenes.  There are too many year-round outdoor activities to count, and many of them close at hand. Tucson is often ranked as amongst the best bikable cities in the United States.

Tucson skyline, mountains, and clouds
Tucson Downtown skyline w/ the Santa Catalina mountain range and clouds in the background

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