Postdoctoral Opportunities

General inquiries: If you are interested in pursuing postdoctoral research in the areas of plant physiological ecology, plant water relations and climate change research, please feel free to contact me to identify areas of mutual research interest and avenues for obtaining support for your work.

Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Ecosystem Ecology (still open: June 16, 2016)

A post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Ecosystem Ecology is available at the University of New Mexico.  The successful applicant will contribute to the success of a project recently funded by NSF to explore how pinon pine mortality in the Southwest alters ecosystem water balance and the future trajectory of these woodlands.  The ideal candidate will have expertise in experimental field ecological research and must be comfortable working in a field setting for extended periods as part of a collaborative team with other researchers.

Required qualifications: Ph.D., at time of appointment, in Plant Physiological Ecology, Ecosystem Ecology, Earth System Science, Forest Hydrology, or a related field.  Excellent mathematical and spoken and written English language skills required.  Knowledge and understanding of plant physiological processes and soil moisture dynamics is preferred and experience with hydrologic partitioning in arid-land ecosystems is a plus.  Preferred qualifications: Experience measuring or modeling sap flux, soil water dynamics, and/or mechanistic modeling of plant physiological processes, especially in regard to plant and soil hydraulic function and site hydrology, and experience with: field or laboratory manipulations of plant- soil systems, modeling and large datasets, and fluency in an analysis environment such as R, Matlab, or Python. 

Inquiries and applications (cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information for a minimum of 3 references) should be directed to Dr. Marcy Litvak ( or Dr. William Pockman ( Applications will be considered until the position is filled.  Ability to start by July 2016 strongly preferred.

Project:   This research is designed to improve our ability to predict the impact of large numbers of trees dying in semi-arid forested ecosystems. Forest mortality caused by drought has recently increased on every forested continent and is now recognized as a global phenomenon. The study focuses on piñon-juniper woodlands, the third largest biome in the U.S. In the Southwestern US, higher temperatures and decreased precipitation have increased drought severity, reducing tree health, and triggering widespread regional forest mortality across the region. This research is motivated by previous research showing that piñon mortality unexpectedly triggers one or more mechanisms that lead these woodlands to become both hotter and drier, potentially altering the environmental conditions that control future vegetation and ecosystem recovery. These surprising results challenge our expectations that that more water would be available for those trees that survived in forests following disturbance. Drought-induced mortality is predicted to increase globally in the coming decades. This work will contribute key data on the specific roles of woody plants in regulating water availability and ecosystem services in water-limited semiarid ecosystems when large numbers of trees die. The modeling will provide explicit predictions of biomes that are vulnerable, or likely to be vulnerable, as climate changes, and key environmental factors that increase that vulnerability.  We are looking for one postdoctoral researcher and one research technician to start as soon as possible.   The positions will both be based out of University of New Mexico, but will require several days spent each week at the field site.