PhD opportunity at the University of Southern California

This is a 5-year opportunity to combine novel fieldwork and new conceptual applications with research in an isotope biogeochemistry lab, emphasizing compound-specific isotope analysis of H and C. The student will be funded by a combination of NSF-sponsored research assistantship and University-funded teaching assistantship, and will also be encouraged to apply for external fellowships.

Description: Funding is available for a graduate student researcher with field and lab based expertise in isotope biogeochemistry, fluvial geomorphology, plant ecology, aquatic systems and/or paleoclimate, and interest in the application of isotopic tools to understanding fluvial transport of organic carbon. A primary focus of the student’s efforts will be part of an NSF funded project entitled “A compound-specific isotopic approach to quantifying the source of terrestrial organic matter transported by a large river”, to assess the sources and ages of organic matter within the headwater tributaries of the Amazon river (PIs Josh West and Sarah Feakins, project partner Valier Galy). Field activities will include, but not be limited, to at least 2 field campaigns including high altitude work in Peru with intensive sampling of plants, soils, river water and sediment samples, at high and low flow conditions. Laboratory activities at USC will include organic matter extraction using organic geochemical techniques and compound identification by GC-MS, compound specific hydrogen isotopic analysis of analysis of plant leaf waxes by GC-IRMS, as well as evaluation and interpretation of the data obtained. Travel to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is required to conduct the compound specific radiocarbon analyses. The researcher will be expected to assist supervision of undergraduate assistants at USC; to work with collaborators in 3 countries (USA, UK, Peru); to co-ordinate with field station and Peruvian universities on research, education and outreach activities; to present results at scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The student will have additional opportunities to chart the course of their research program in collaboration with West and Feakins, making use of the available expertise.

Requirements: BS or MS in relevant field (e.g., geological, chemical, and physical sciences). Fieldwork experience in geological and/or ecological sciences and laboratory research experience in geochemistry or biogeochemistry would be a desirable foundation. Extensive field and lab experience in preparation of environmental samples would be a bonus. Spanish language skills (or a willingness to learn) are desired, as this project will require co-ordination with field station and Peruvian universities on research, education and outreach activities.
Applications: Applications for this position will be accepted immediately (between August 14th and September 14th), via email to: Sarah Feakins. Applicants will need to include: 1) a curriculum vitae, 2) a research statement and 3) contact information (name, position, email) for at least three professional references. Start Date: anticipated January 2013.

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