University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Research Associate (Fixed Term)

PDRA Cambridge Tree Growth

"Addressing the plant growth C source-sink debate through observations, experiments, and modelling"

A postdoctoral researcher is sought to collaborate on this joint NERC/NSF-funded project. Applicants should have a PhD in Mathematics, Physics, Environmental Science, Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, or related field.

This project is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Northern Arizona University (NAU), with fieldwork conducted at Harvard Forest and sample analysis at WSL Switzerland. It aims to increase understanding of the causes, locations, and future behaviour of the terrestrial carbon sink. Models suggest that this sink is caused by increased plant growth as a result of atmospheric CO2-driven increased photosynthesis. However, there is good evidence to suggest that these models are incorrect, or at least incomplete, and that growth processes themselves dominate the response. This project will examine this idea and test new hypotheses using field data and models.

You will be based in Dr Friend's ecological modelling group in Cambridge, UK, but will also work closely with the Richardson Lab at NAU and colleagues at WSL and Harvard University. Your role will be to help develop approaches to treating growth processes in a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model, informed by our observational and experimental work at Harvard Forest, and use this model to address questions concerning the terrestrial carbon cycle. In particular, this new model formulation will be used to improve understanding of the causes and locations of the historical land carbon sink, and predict its future behaviour under various scenarios. Reducing uncertainty in terrestrial carbon fluxes is currently one of the most important objectives in global environmental science. Applicants should review the further particulars for information on all essential criteria.

Dr Friend can be contacted for further information on the project aims and design (

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place on 31st August 2018.

This post is limited in tenure to 31st May 2020.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.


Please quote reference LC16028 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online