Cornell to Berkeley to Madison: my next two years

I have exciting news about my future: I can officially announce that I will be starting a postdoc in Mary Firestone‘s lab at the University of California-Berkeley this September, after which I will become a tenure-track assistant professor of soil ecology in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016! I am so excited about both of these amazing opportunities!

During the postdoc, I will be working on a DOE-funded project, examining how organic C decomposition and stabilization processes in soil are impacted by the interactions between plant roots and the soil microbial community – basically exactly the kind of project I would have designed had I been given the opportunity. I am really looking forward to the collaborations that will happen as part of the project, working with researchers at the Lawrence BerkeleyLawrence Livermore, and Pacific Northwest National Labs, UC Berkeley, and Oklahoma, among others. I am grateful that the Soil Science department and CALS at UW Madison agreed to let me work on the postdoc before starting the professorship, because I know I am going to learn a tonne, and will have the opportunity to ask some really big questions in my research.

View of the Soils buildings, with a glimpse of Lake Mendota

View of the Madison Soils buildings, with a glimpse of Lake Mendota

The professorship is just a dream come true. When the position announcement came across my desk, I just had to apply – again, it was as though they had created the exact job description I would have crafted if I had been given free rein: a professorship in soil ecology (“linking below-ground processes to ecosystem functions; the dynamics of nutrient, energy, and mass fluxes in soils; the effects of global change on soil processes; and characterizing and evaluating soil biodiversity”), 25% teaching, 75% research, in a Soil Science department, no less, at a top school, in a really charismatic city! The school and department are clearly very supportive of new faculty members – it seems like a great location to build a research career, with strong and innovative in-university funding, excellent opportunities and support for collaboration, progressive tenure policies, and great students. I am thrilled and honoured that I was offered the position, and can’t wait to start!

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