UPDATED: PhD GRA – Effects of solar energy on geodiversity, soils, and plants in the Mojave Desert (USGS/Cornell University)

Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
Highlights: • Creative and innovative research environment • Collaboration with academic and federal scientists • Cutting edge research in renewable energy ecology • Fieldwork in the Mojave Desert • Competitive, 12-month stipend (~$38,000/yr) • Full support (salary, tuition, and health insurance) Background: The rapid buildout of solar energy in the Mojave Desert is outpacing our understanding of the effects solar energy development may have on desert ecosystems. We will collaborate with BLM Nevada, the University of California, Davis, and the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center to conduct novel research aimed at elucidating spatiotemporal effects of solar energy development on soils and geodiversity, making links to plants ecology, at two solar facilities in Nevada. Our objectives center on elucidating responses of desert soils and bottom-up ecological processes to solar energy development before, during, and after construction of two, industrial-scale PV solar energy facilities. We anticipate achieving multiple goals that seek to inform applied, solutions-oriented natural resource management at solar facilities in the Mojave Desert. Description: The PhD student will conduct research on the effects of solar energy development on geodiversity, desert soils, soil-plant interactions, and desert plants under the direct supervision of Dr. Steve Grodsky (Assistant Unit Leader, New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit & Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University). The PhD student will work with a team of researchers, including Dr. Rebecca Hernandez (UC Davis), Dr. Jeff Lovich (USGS), Dr. Seth Munson (USGS), and Lara Kobelt (BLM). The PhD student will conduct the following research activities: 1) collect field data on soils (physical properties, geodiversity), plants (abundance, diversity), and pollinators (abundance, diversity) before, during and after construction of solar facilities (~3 month fieldwork/yr) using various methods; 2) curate and analyze soils and plant data; 3) write progress reports to be submitted to the Bureau of Land Management; and 4) publish peer-reviewed publications and disseminate research findings pertaining to responses of soils to solar energy development and geodiversity as an indicator of ecosystem response to solar energy development to stakeholders broadly. The PhD student will be expected to conduct quality, applied ecological research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and contribute to a team of creative, interdisciplinary researchers. This position comes with a highly competitive, annual 12-month salary (~$38,000/yr) and full support in the forms of tuition remission and student health insurance. *Please see job flyer at: http://www.stevegrodsky.com/opportunities
- Master's degree in ecology, soils ecology, plant ecology, entomology, or related field - Proven capacity to publish peer-reviewed publications - Advanced modeling and computational skills; working knowledge of statistical software - Ability to conduct fieldwork in rugged conditions - Experience with desert plant, soils, and/or pollinator research - Ability to work independently and as part of a group - Minimum undergrad GPA of 3.6 Applicants are to send a single PDF containing: 1) cover letter; 2) CV; 3) contact information for 3 references and 5) PDFs of relevant peer-reviewed publications (if applicable) to Dr. Steve Grodsky (grodsky@cornell.edu) by December 1st, 2021. Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted and required to apply for admission to the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment’s Graduate Program at Cornell University.
Contact Person
Steve Grodsky
Contact eMail
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