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WHAT'S NEW  ::  Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

May 7, 2021
Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Pyroaerobiology: The transport of microbes in wildland fire smoke

Employer: University of Idaho: College of Natural Resources
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA
Closing Date: August 31, 2021

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Job Description

Start Date: July-August 2021 (negotiable)
Position Term: 24 months

This position will focus 50% time on the Project described below, and 50% time on other projects to be determined based on applicant expertise. Please contact lkobziar@uidaho.edu for more information.

Project Description: NSF DEB 2039525: $940,956
Collaborative Research: Biomass burning smoke as a driver of multi-scale microbial teleconnections (“BioSmoke-Connect”)

Each year, wildland fires emit millions of tons of smoke particles into the atmosphere and these particles are now known to carry microbes with them. Traditionally, wildfires have been studied in terms of direct impacts to terrestrial biota and the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere, but the role of smoke as an agent of biological dispersal has yet to be explored. Microbial emissions in smoke from biomass burning are both quantitatively and qualitatively different from the bioaerosols observed from wind-driven emissions, implying that wildland fire may be a globally relevant and yet-unquantified mechanism for microbial teleconnections among ecosystems. To test how smoke drives microbial metacommunity ecology, this project will use an integrated approach that tracks microbial transport via smoke in field- and laboratory-based experiments.

Smoke and particulate deposition during repeated prescribed fires in grasslands will be sampled using UAS (drones) across different seasons to characterize the relationships among fire behavior, meteorological conditions, atmospheric transport processes, and survival of microbes transported in smoke. These data will be used to build new capacity for simulating smoke microbial dispersal across scales by parameterizing microbial emission fluxes and microbial dispersion in atmospheric, chemical transport, and coupled fire-atmosphere models. Results will lend insight into the scale and impact of smoke-related microbial dispersal. This research will inform questions about microbial gene flow, microbial pathogen epidemiology, phytopathogens, and meteorological processes, and will expand fundamental understanding of smoke’s ecological and social significance.

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (PDR) Position Description:
The PDR will break new ground to develop our capacity to predict and track the atmospheric transport of microbial content in wildland fire smoke plumes. Pyroaerobiology is a new discipline requiring a broad range of expertise- this position is designed to take advantage of a breadth of academic backgrounds. The PDR will be a key member of multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Idaho (fire-soil ecology and pyroaerobiology), the Desert Research Institute (environmental microbiology), the University of Florida (microbiology), and San Jose State University (atmospheric science and fire modeling). Our team works collaboratively and shares as much joy in science as we do in spending time in the field and lab together.

Biosmoke Connect field studies will take place in Kansas at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, home to both a NSF Long Term Ecological Research and National Ecological Observatory Network site (http://www.konza.ksu.edu/Splash/default.aspx .

This PDR position will also include sampling during wildfire seasons and prescribed burns across the US. Potential areas of focus include smoke transport of infectious disease pathogens, crop/forest pathogens, linking remote sensing and smoke microbial transport, investigating aerosolization processes in the lab and through experimental fire use, and other areas depending on expertise.

The PDR will help mentor a PhD student and summer field technicians and will have the opportunity to gain teaching experience if desired. Publication of 2-3 manuscripts within the two-year time period is expected and will be supported by the collaborative efforts of the multidisciplinary team.

Application Instructions

Required Qualifications:
PhD Degree at time of hire in one of the following: aerobiology, atmospheric sciences, air quality/ smoke science, or related topics with relevance to pyroaerobiology. Experience using aerosol sampling/enumeration techniques and/or atmospheric transport models, preferably including understanding of various approaches (remote sensing approaches, met. and atm. models e.g. WRF, CMAQ, HYSPLIT, GEOS-Chem) to aerosol detection and tracking. Strong statistical analysis and programming skills required. Ability to work in physically demanding circumstances in the field (PPE and training is provided). We expect the PDR to demonstrate interest in collaborative and interdisciplinary work in a new discipline (pyroaerobiology) and have strong organizational skills with the ability to work independently.

Preferred Qualifications:
Willingness to engage in creative solutions to sampling and tracking aerosols in extreme environments. Familiarity with fire ecology and fire science, interest in conducting lab and field work using fire experimentally, and strong communication skills preferred. Experience with manipulative aerosolization experiments using point sources is a plus but is not required for this position.

About the College of Natural Resources and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho:
As Idaho’s land-grant institution, the College of Natural Resources has a mission to provide practical education in the life sciences. Researchers in the College of Natural Resources have many opportunities to gain first-hand field experiences in some of the best outdoor settings in the world—the forests, rangelands, rivers and mountains of Idaho. They have access to more than 10,000 acres of Experimental Forests; the Pitkin Forest Nursery, the only operational research nursery at a university in the country; Taylor Wilderness Research Station in the middle of the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and the McCall Field Campus, home to Idaho’s only resident K-12 education program and to our new summer field camp for undergraduates. The College includes a diverse range of expertise in research including: Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences; Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences; and Natural Resources and Society. The PDR will be encouraged to engage in this diverse network to pave pathways for their future careers.

Post-Doctoral Researchers located at the Coeur d’Alene campus will have office and lab space at the beautiful Harbor Center, positioned on the edge of the Spokane River and the Centennial Bike Path in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Surrounded by lakes, rivers and mountains, U of I Coeur d’Alene is uniquely positioned to build careers connected to the rich natural environment. Through the Confluence Project, the U of I Community Water Resource Center (CWRC) and regional partners, U of I CDA has diverse opportunities for professional development in teaching and research.

Learn more about Coeur d’Alene: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeur_d%27Alene,_Idaho

Application Contacts

Leda Kobziar


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