MS Position in Agroecology at New Mexico State University

MS Position in Agroecology: Cover Crops in the Southwest: Obtaining Ecosystem Services While Minimizing Water Use New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Project Summary: The agroecosystem services provided by cover crops, including enhanced soil health, erosion prevention, carbon sequestration, nutrient provision and pest management, are widely recognized. Nonetheless, in arid environments the benefits received from cover crops must be balanced with their water consumption. Growers in the Southwestern USA desire the benefits of cover crops, but are concerned about the impacts of irrigation requirements on economic returns. Thus, we are conducting a study focusing on minimizing irrigation needs while still obtaining cover crop agroecosystem services. Using three cover crop species plus a three-way mixture under four irrigation regimes, we will assess impacts to a suite of characteristics including soil organic matter, aggregate stability, nutrient availability, and the rhizosphere microbiota including nematode, bacterial and fungal communities. Further, we will assess fungal disease, weed pressure and impacts to productivity and profits.

We are seeking an outstanding MS student to conduct research on the microbial component of this study: i.e., nematodes, bacteria and fungi. Research will be under the direction of Drs. Pietrasiak (Plant and Environmental Sciences, and Lehnhoff and Sanogo (Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology & Weed Science, edu/). The successful candidate will associate with a diverse team of faculty within the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to gain broad experience in soil science, plant pathology, soil microbiology and weed science.

Basic qualifications: Candidates should have: a BS degree (3.2 GPA minimum) in plant ecology, weed ecology, agroecology or agronomy, soil microbiology (or a closely related field); the ability to communicate effectively both in writing and orally; laboratory or field research experience; and a willingness to work in inclement weather including extreme heat.

Preferred qualifications: Ideal candidates will have: strong quantitative and statistical skills; and a demonstrated ability to perform independent field research.

The position will start in late spring 2019 (start date negotiable), and interested candidates should apply no later than January 31, 2019. To apply, submit (1) a cover letter describing experience and interests, (2) CV, (3) transcripts, (4) GRE and TOEFL (if required) scores, and (5) contact information for three professional references to: Salary: $22,620.

For more information, interested candidates should call Dr. Erik Lehnhoff (575.646.2328).