Two Postdoctoral Positions

We have an immediate vacancy for two postdoctoral researchers to work on an NSF-funded project studying the sources and dynamics of agricultural nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from the US Corn Belt.


Date posted

Aug. 31, 2021 8:15 pm

Application deadline

Sep. 30, 2021 5:00 pm


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities


  • United States

Job description

We have an immediate vacancy for two postdoctoral researchers to work on an NSF-funded project studying the sources and dynamics of agricultural nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from the US Corn Belt. Driven by the hypothesis that N2O emissions from direct (i.e., nitrogen-fertilized soils) and indirect (e.g., leaching and volatilization/re-deposition) agricultural sources carry distinct isotopic signatures, this project aims to decipher N2O emission dynamics and its climate sensitivities in the Corn Belt using a combination of N2O isotopocule (i.e., isotopologues + isotopomers) fingerprinting, tower observations, and atmospheric inverse modeling. The objectives of this research are to (1) quantify isotopic signatures of N2O emitted from agricultural soils and drainage networks, as well as the underlying biogeochemical and hydrological mechanisms that drive variations in these signatures; (2) establish high-frequency, high-precision N2O isotopocule observations at a very tall tower within the Corn Belt (the KCMP tower: to characterize the isotopic composition of N2O emissions at the regional scale; and (3) use a dual-tracer inverse modeling approach that leverages both concentration and isotopic constraints to partition regional N2O emissions into direct and indirect emission pathways and to model N2O emission dynamics from the respective pathways.

The successful candidate selected for position 1 will be based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and co-advised by Drs Zhongjie Yu ( and Wendy Yang ( This candidate will lead efforts to characterize N2O isotopic signatures from agricultural soils and drainage networks using N2O mass spectrometry and, in combination with eddy covariance measurements, to quantify ecosystem-scale N2O isotopic dynamics in corn production systems using a N2O laser spectrometer (Objective 1). This is expected to include significant field work in Illinois and Minnesota to collect soil and stream water samples for N2O isotopic analysis. The second postdoctoral researcher will be based at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN), advised by Dr Timothy Griffis (, and will be primarily responsible for adapting and applying atmospheric transport (e.g, WRF) and land surface (e.g., CLM-BGC) models and various N2O emission inventories to inversely quantify the magnitude, pathways, and climatic sensitivity of regional N2O emissions using the tall tower-based N2O concentration and isotopocule measurements (Objective 3). Both positions will collaborate extensively with the entire project team, and will contribute to the instrumentation of N2O flux and isotopocule measurements using novel N2O laser spectrometry at the KCMP tall tower (Objective 2). Depending on backgrounds and interests, both postdocs will have opportunities to participate in ongoing research projects conducted in the PIs’ labs, including watershed nitrogen cycling analysis using in-stream nitrate sensors and triple oxygen isotopes of nitrate (position 1) or tall tower- and aircraft-based observations and modeling of regional NH3, CH4, and CO2 fluxes (position 2).

Both positions require a doctorate degree in a related science or engineering field; strong quantitative and writing skills; self-motivation and capacity for independent work; and the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team. Prior hands on experience with stable isotope analyses (position 1) or atmospheric transport/inverse modeling (position 2) is highly desirable.

An application for either position should include a current CV, two samples of the applicant’s scientific writing, contact information for two references, and a cover letter describing research experience, career goals, and your fit for the position. Applications will be accepted immediately until the positions are filled. Start date is flexible but is preferred to be no later than January 1, 2022. Both positions are available for two years, with possible extension; however, annual renewal is required and dependent on funding and progress made by the individual. Both positions offer competitive salary and full benefits.

Questions, inquiries, and application materials can be directed to: (position 1) or (position 2).

UIUC and UMN are Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employers and welcome individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity.