A research assistantship is available for a PhD student in the Department of Biology/School of Environmental Science at Tennessee Tech University. This student will work on a USDA funded project to assess the recovery of ecosystem services in restored agricultural wetlands, focusing on nutrient retention and greenhouse gas (GHG) production tradeoffs that occur following restoration of river floodplain wetlands in the lower Mississippi River Basin.

The return of ecosystem services within restored agricultural wetlands is a major goal of the USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. In the Mississippi River basin, nitrogen and phosphorus retention by agricultural wetlands is an important management focus in order to reduce nutrient transport to the Gulf of Mexico and mitigate Gulf hypoxia.

Floodplain wetlands in this region can be both a nutrient sink and source, as well as a supply a significant source of GHGs, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Given these potential tradeoffs in nutrient and GHG fluxes, gaining a better understanding of the conditions that optimize all flux rates is critical to meeting multiple restoration goals. The data from this project will be used to advance USDA NRCS wetland restoration planning to optimize ecosystems functions during restoration recovery.

Qualifications: Masters degree in any aquatic or soil science, or related field (minimum G.P.A. of 3.0). Experience with aquatic or soil biogeochemistry and ecology, groundwater hydrology, and ability to work in harsh outdoor environments would be beneficial. Outstanding students who may not have this specific background are also encouraged to apply.

Tennessee Tech has a particularly strong fisheries and aquatic ecology program, and has substantial aquatic and hydrology research conducted through Tennessee Tech’s Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources. The University is situated in Cookeville, Tennessee in the scenic rolling hills of the Upper Cumberland region, which is known for exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities.

To apply: Interested applicants should send a CV, brief cover letter describing experience and goals, unofficial transcripts, copy of GRE scores, and contact information of at least two individuals familiar with research/academic performance to Dr. Justin Murdock at jnmurdock@tntech.edu .

Preferred start date is January 1, 2024, but the start date is negotiable. Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Our lab is dedicated to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment and persons from underrepresented groups in science are encouraged to apply, https://www.tntech.edu/cas/biology/diversity.php .

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