Research Assistant - Arts and Science

Cambridge, Massachusetts (US)
09 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
08 Dec 2020
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job Summary

The Taylor Lab at Harvard University works to understand how terrestrial ecosystems respond to global change and how those responses, in turn, feedback to influence the trajectory of global change itself. Our work focuses primarily on how terrestrial plants change their belowground resource acquisition strategies (e.g. root architecture, mycorrhizal association, nitrogen fixation) in response to factors such as rising CO2, temperature, nitrogen deposition, and disturbance from pathogens and extreme weather events. The goal of this work is to better predict the future of terrestrial ecosystems and how they will influence future global carbon and nutrient cycling. We are seeking a Research Assistant to work primarily on a grant-funded project assessing how tropical forests respond to elevated levels of carbon dioxide using naturally-occurring CO2 vents on volcanos in Costa Rica.

Job-Specific Responsibilities

Under specific direction, performs a variety of basic and general laboratory research and clerical tasks determined by the needs of the project. These tasks will include work in the lab and greenhouse as well as domestic field work and remote field work in Costa Rica. May perform tasks related to the research project independently, but within specific guidelines and subject to review by supervisor or other research staff.  This position will report directly to the Principle Investigator, Dr. Benton Taylor, and will perform the following duties:

1.    Performs laboratory experiments utilizing specific and proscribed techniques and equipment;

2.    Constructs sampling equipment for deployment in field experiments;

3.    Surveys tropical forest vegetation plots for traits such as tree biomass, fine roots, nitrogen fixation, and soil chemistry, often under the strenuous conditions presented by working in tropical forests;

4.    Under direction, processes, organizes and summarizes data, reporting experiment results using a variety of scientific, word processing, spreadsheet or statistical software applications or program platforms; 

5.    As a member of a project team, may assist in the design of laboratory experiments, techniques, and protocols;

6.    May perform routine logging and/or testing of samples;

7.    May occasionally instruct others in basic laboratory techniques;

8.    Works to maintain the safe operation of the laboratory environment;

9.    Performs related laboratory maintenance such as maintaining and cleaning equipment and ordering supplies;

10.   May process orders or invoices, or undertake other clerical and simple accounting duties under the direction of administrative personnel.

Basic Qualifications

College background or equivalent work experience, preferably in a discipline related to ecosystem ecology or biogeochemistry.  At least one year related work experience (relevant course work may count towards experience).

Additional Qualifications

BA/BS degree preferred.  Demonstrated abilities in basic laboratory techniques helpful, but not required. Exposure to applicable computer technologies. Experience in conducting field work on below ground plant ecology, especially in the tropics, is strongly encouraged.  Excellent communication skills.  Ability to work independently and part of a team.

Working Conditions

May be required to lift, move and transport related laboratory equipment.

Additional Information

This is a one-year term position from date of hire.

A resume and cover letter must be submitted to be considered for this position.  Harvard University will not provide visa sponsorship for this position.

***All formal offers will be made by FAS Human Resources.

OEB is a diverse and vibrant department with a broad range of research and teaching interests, ranging from the evolution and control of gene expression patterns within individuals and populations to the dynamics of ecosystems. Field and laboratory studies are key to understanding the evolution of organisms, how biodiversity is generated and maintained, how organisms work, and how organisms interact with their environment. OEB has close working associations with its allied institutions: the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) and the Harvard University Herbaria (HUH), as well as the Arnold Arboretum and the Harvard Forest. These institutions and their collections offer an unparalleled, rich set of resources for OEB students, faculty, visitors and staff. 

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