Opportunity Type:

The Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks has openings for two graduate students (M.S. pr Ph.D.) to work with Syndonia Bret-Harte and Roger Ruess on a new NSF-funded project on shrub feedbacks to carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in the arctic tundra.

In the Arctic, a widespread shift from tundra to deciduous shrub-dominated vegetation appears to be underway, which could have profound implications for regional climate, C balance, and biogeochemical cycling. Because much of the world’s soil C is stored in arctic and boreal regions, changes in the Arctic’s C budget may feed back strongly to global climate. Because biogeochemical C and N cycles are linked tightly in arctic ecosystems and plant productions is strongly N-limited, shrubs affect soil C through their effects on near-surface soil N, via both SOM turnover and N inputs.

One student (M.S. or Ph.D.) will focus on shrub growth and impacts on N uptake and near surface N cycling, and will be advised by Bret-Harte. One student (M.S.) will focus on characterizing shrub impacts via nitrogen fixation associated with Siberian alder, and will be advised by Ruess. Students will have an opportunity to develop their own research questions within the overall framework of the project. We expect that Bret-Harte and Ruess will serve on both students’ graduate committees, and that we will work together in the field. Research sites will be accessed from the Toolik Field Station (see http://toolik.alaska.edu/). Students will be supported through a combination of research assistantships and teaching assistantships. Students will start fieldwork in the summer of 2017, and coursework in the fall of 2017. For more information, please contact Syndonia Bret-Harte by email at msbretharte@alaska.edu. You must also apply for graduate study to the Department of Biology and Wildlife at University of Alaska Fairbanks (see https://www.bw.uaf.edu/graduates/index.php for application requirements); the deadline for applications is January 15, 2017.