Postdoctoral Researcher – Exploring microbial denitrifiers and potential for mitigation of N2O emissions in agricultural soils, School of Natural Sciences, NUIG


Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a full-time fixed term position (12 months) as a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of Microbiology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. This position is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and is available from 01/09/19.

We seek a highly motivated and able candidate to undertake a postdoctoral position in soil microbiology that will address questions around greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas with global warming potential 310 times that of carbon dioxide. N2O emissions comprise over one-third of all agricultural emissions and decreases of N2O emissions are critical emissions reductions required by EU Climate and Energy Package targets. Reductions of emissions, particularly within the context of a rising human population and sectoral expansion, represent a major challenge for agriculture globally. Nitrogen (N) losses from agricultural soils also represent an economic loss to the agricultural sector. Thus, managing N resources in soil is critical for environmental and agronomic sustainability, and underpins efforts to meet global challenges of increasing food production and climate change mitigation.

This position is available as part of a project entitled MINE (Manipulation and Integration of Nitrogen Emissions), which aims to divert gaseous N losses from N2O to N2, and integrate N2O emissions on a spatial and temporal scale. MINE is an integrated multidisciplinary project between Teagasc, the department of Microbiology NUI Galway and Botany Department Trinity College Dublin. The successful candidate will work as part of a team which includes senior researchers, two PhD students, two postdoctoral researchers, a technician and a research assistant. Microorganisms drive the majority of biogeochemical processes in soil and are responsible for much of the gaseous losses. By understanding how these organisms function there is great potential to predict when deleterious environmental N losses are likely to occur and to manage soils in such a way as to reduce losses. This postdoctoral position will focus on the occurrence, diversity and activity of microbial denitrifiers in Irish soils, and determine the impact of management, environmental and edaphic factors on microbial production of N20. This project will use a mixture of molecular, high throughput sequencing, biochemical and isotopic approaches.

Job Description:

The successful candidate will carry out research on microbial denitrifers in Irish soils and how this relates to N20 emissions. The researcher should be familiar with functional and phylogenetic analysis of microbial communities, and will lead in the paper writing for these tasks. This person will organise the daily operations of the project work at Johnstown Castle, will co-ordinate technical work with a research assistant, and will assist the project co-ordinator in collating reports and arranging project meetings. They will take the lead in data analysis and in writing progress reports, presentations and publication of scientific/technical papers.


  • ·         Work with research scientists, technical staff and PhD students assessing microbial community function in soil related to N20 emissions
  • ·         Extraction of nucleic acids from soil samples and carry out a range of downstream molecular analyses including PCR, qPCR and DNA sequencing
  • ·         Statistical analysis of data generated in the project
  • ·         Mentoring of PhD students involved in associated projects
  • ·         To interpret research findings and prepare scientific, technical and popular publications
  • ·         To disseminate research findings to a variety of audiences as appropriate

Qualifications/Skills required:

Essential Requirements:

  • A PhD in Microbiology or a cognate subject
  • Relevant research experience in soil or environmental microbiology
  • Demonstrated technical expertise in microbial community analysis
  • Evidence of research activity (publications, conference presentations, awards) and future scholarly output (working papers, research proposals etc.).
  • Excellent communication skills (oral, written, presentation) with an ability to enable effective knowledge and technology transfer.
  • Fluency in English
  • Expertise in experimental design
  • Excellent project management, analytical, report writing and data analysis skills
  • An ability to collaborate with team members and PhD students to help build research knowledge and skill and to guide professional development.
  • Ability to generate new ideas, unique concepts, models and solutions

Desirable Requirements:

  • Expertise in microbial cycling of N and N20 emissions
  • Expertise in Bioinformatics
  • Experience in setting own research agenda.
  • Evidence of teamwork and collaboration with relevant partners
  • Full, clean driving licence 

Employment permit restrictions apply for this category of post

Salary: €39,530 (pt1 of the Postdoctoral Salary Scale)

Start date: Position is available from 01/09/19

Continuing Professional Development/Training:

Researchers at NUI Galway are encouraged to avail of a range of training and development opportunities designed to support their personal career development plans. The postdoctoral researcher will join a successful research group will receive valuable multidisciplinary training and research opportunities in soil microbiology, soil chemistry, environmental science, agronomy and Bioinformatics.

Further information on research and working at NUI Galway is available on Research at NUI Galway, and on Teagasc at It is envisioned the successful candidate will be primarily based at the Soil and Environmental Microbiology group, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. Johnstown Castle is Ireland’s leading research centre for soils and the rural environment. The centre conducts research on soils, nutrient efficiency, recovery and losses; air and water quality; the agricultural environment and agro-ecology.

Informal enquiries concerning the post may be made to Dr Fiona Brennan

To Apply:

Applications to include a covering letter, CV,and the contact details of three referees should be sent, via e-mail (in word or PDF only) to Fiona Brennan:

Please put reference number NUIG-054-19 in subject line of e-mail application.

Closing date for receipt of applications is 30th May 2019 5.00 pm

All positions are recruited in line with Open, Transparent, Merit (OTM) and Competency based recruitment

National University of Ireland, Galway is an equal opportunities employer

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