Research Fellow in Rhizosphere Biophysics

University of Aberdeen - School of Biological Sciences

We seek a Research Fellow to join the BBSRC project “Rhizosphere by design: breeding to select root traits that physically manipulate soil”. This post is one of three postdoctoral positions that form an exciting consortium between the University of Aberdeen, University of Southampton, University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute.

In this project we are exploring root traits that could produce the next generation of crops. An ultimate goal is a rhizosphere formation and function model that integrates root traits and soil properties, with a targeted audience of plant breeders and rhizosphere scientists. Your role as the main experimental scientist on the project will be to make direct measurements of how roots, root hairs and root exudates alter the physical behaviour and structure of soil. Little quantitative understanding of the underlying processes exists, so this project will use advanced approaches from engineering science to disentangle the biophysical mechanisms that drive rhizosphere formation. The availability of near isogenic barley and maize lines with differences in root hair length and exudation provides a novel biological resource for this research. The data that you produce will be combined with non-invasive X-Ray CT imaging and numerical modelling conducted by the other PDRAs on the project.

You should have a background studying physical and biological interactions in soil. You will perform tests that measure mechanical and hydrological properties of soils and root exudates, assist with 3D X-Ray CT imaging and oversee a field experiment where we explore root trait responses to soil management practices. Proven abilities to work as part of a multidisciplinary research team, lead the writing of scientific papers and contribute novel ideas to the study of biological and physical interactions in soil are essential. The experiments require a high level of accuracy and an ability to develop or adapt novel testing methods.

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Professor Paul Hallett ( The other investigators on this project are Professor Tiina Roose and Professor Ian Sinclair (University of Southampton), Dr Glyn Bengough (University of Dundee) and Dr Timothy George (the James Hutton Institute).

This post is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and will be available until 31 March, 2019, with the possibility of an extension pending BBSRC approval. This appointment will be made subject to the usual terms and conditions of employment of the University.

Salary will be paid at the appropriate point on the Grade 6 scale (£32,548 - £34,520 per annum) with placement according to qualifications and experience.

Should you require a visa to undertake paid employment in the UK you will be required to fulfil the minimum points criteria to be granted a Certificate of Sponsorship and Tier 2 visa. As appropriate, at the time an offer of appointment is made you will be asked to demonstrate that you fulfil the criteria in respect of financial maintenance and competency in English. Please do not hesitate to contact Marian Elliott-Jones, HR Adviser, for further information on this.

To apply online for this position visit

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 07 January 2018

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