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Postdoctoral Research Associate in Tropical Forest Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

Lancaster Environment Centre
Salary:   £28,756 to £33,309
Closing Date:   Friday 10 June 2022
Interview Date:   See advert
Reference:  0406-22

Do you have a background in ecology, biogeochemistry or plant-soil interactions? Are you enthusiastic about working on a novel project with extended fieldwork in the tropics? Do you consider yourself a team player who works well with colleagues but organizes your own work schedule to conduct rigorous research? If so, you should consider applying for our opening for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on tropical forest greenhouse gas fluxes at the Lancaster Environment Centre. 

We are offering a full-time (100%), fixed-term (32 months) appointment from 1 August 2022 or soon thereafter. The post is appointed at Grade 6, but you will have the opportunity to apply for promotion to Grade 7 within the first year.

Read on for more information about the project, and check the additional details about the role in the person specification and job description. 

The ReTroForGE Research Project 

ReTroForGE (Refining Tropical Forest Greenhouse Gas Emissions) aims to provide a comprehensive estimate of tropical forest greenhouse gas uptake and emissions at the ecosystem level by exploring the relationships between  greenhouse gas fluxes and key plant traits.

Tropical forests play a crucial role in regulating global concentrations of greenhouse gases. The importance of tropical forests as both a source and substantial sink of CO2 is well  established, but we know much less about the contribution of tropical forests to global CH4 and N2O budgets. Quantifying CH4 and N2O exchange in tropical forests is important because, although wetland tropical forests are a large source of CH4, free-draining tropical soils are a source of N2O but a sink for CH4. Trees can also act as conduits for greenhouse gases, but the contribution of trees to tropical forest greenhouse gas budgets is unknown. ReTroForGE will address this knowledge gap by quantifying the emissions and uptake of CH4 and N2O by tropical forest soils and trees, and determining the extent to which these greenhouse gas fluxes are influenced by specific characteristics of tropical trees.  

As part of this exciting project, we are recruiting a Postdoctoral Research Associate to conduct field-based measurements in tropical forest sites in Panama, Central America. The post-holder will work with project team members and local field assistants to quantify greenhouse gas fluxes from soils and trees, measure soil properties and plant traits, and conduct basic sample analyses in tropical forests along the Panama Canal. The role will be at the core of a project team including Drs Emma Sayer and Sunitha Pangala at Lancaster University, Prof. Niall McNamara and Drs Pete Henrys and Dafydd Elias at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The project is supported by partners at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, and Colorado State University in the USA. 

You will be primarily responsible for conducting the fieldwork at tropical forest sites in Panama and carrying out chemical analyses of plant- and soil samples. You will lead or contribute to data analysis, the preparation of publications and the dissemination of findings. You will have experience of working in high-level scientific facilities, conducting fieldwork under tropical conditions and be able to support the work of other project team members.

The post is based at the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) but you will spend 24-26 months working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, with individual trips lasting between 6 and 12 months. LEC is a multidisciplinary department committed to finding sustainable solutions to some of the worlds most pressing environmental problems. STRI is one of the world’s most renowned centres for tropical research. You will join a committed, supportive and vibrant research community, with access to excellent facilities, field equipment and research support at both institutions. Both LEC and STRI hold regular research seminars and training opportunities, and all members of the project team are committed to mentoring early-career researchers.

The appointment is expected to be available full-time for 32 months from 1 August 2022, although a longer appointment at 80% FTE can also be considered. 

We welcome applications from people in all diversity groups

Further information

Full details of all LEC’s activities can be found on the Departmental web site:, and additional information about Lancaster University can be found at: 

Informal enquiries about the position should be addressed to Dr Emma Sayer, 

 Interview date: We anticipate interviewing shortlisted candidates on Monday  4 July 2022

Start date: The appointment will be from 1 August 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. 


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Please note: Unless specified otherwise in the advert wording, all advertised roles are UK based.

The University provides an environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each employee, whilst promoting the importance of wellbeing for all our colleagues. We have a range of support networks available for our employees, and more information on these can be found on the ‘Working at Lancaster’ information page.


We are committed to family-friendly and flexible working policies on an individual basis. The University recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address all inequality in higher education.


We warmly welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of their age, religion, gender identity or expression, race, disability or sexual orientation, and are committed to promoting diversity, and equality of opportunity.

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