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Postdoctoral Scientist: The Role of Soils in the Spread of Valley Fever

Department of Environmental Science, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Closing date
Jun 3, 2022

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Biogeosciences, Global Environmental Change, GeoHealth
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We are seeking a motivated and energetic postdoctoral scientist to join an interdisciplinary research team on a project designed to better understand the role of soil composition and seasonal soil dynamics in the spread of fungal spores of Coccidioides posadasii – the infectious agent of Valley Fever. The research team comprises soil scientists, atmospheric scientists, microbiologists, and medical disease specialists from the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. This collaborative team will be combining soils investigations with atmospheric particulate matter sampling, detection of Coccidioides spores in air sampled at positive soil locations, genome analysis from environmental and clinical samples, and geospatial modeling/visualization of diverse Valley Fever data. The goal is to better resolve “hot spots” and “hot moments” of Valley Fever disease spread in Arizona landscapes.  

Duties and Responsibilities:  The postdoctoral scientist will hold primary responsibility for identifying soil characteristics most frequently associated with high prevalence of Cocci spores and determining the soil and ambient atmospheric conditions that promote the aerosolized suspension and off-site transport of Cocci spores from those locations. We seek to answer the question:  What physico-chemical and biological soil characteristics and conditions promote Cocci spore release? The data generated will inform a geospatial risk model.

This will involve:

  • Establishing and maintaining instrumented soil sensor networks for collection of continuous data streams at selected field sites (soil moisture and temperature probes, weather stations, dataloggers);
  • Excavating soil profiles for depth-dependent sampling for subsequent laboratory analyses;
  • Analyzing soil samples for biogeochemical composition (organic matter content and chemistry, microbial community composition, mineral and metals composition, nutrient and ion concentrations, particle size distributions);
  • Conducting additional investigations and analyses depending on the postdoctoral scientist’s interests and expertise.

The postdoc will join the research group of Prof. Jon Chorover in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, which is focusing on the soils component of this larger study.

Qualifications:  Ph.D. in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Geosciences, or a related field. Evidence of capacity to work well in an interdisciplinary team context. Demonstrated understanding of, and interest in, the role of soils in environmental health and quality.

To Apply:  Applications should be submitted through the University of Arizona HR portal for this position:, including  (1) cover letter describing interests and background, (2) up-to-date curriculum vitae, and (3) the names and contact information for at least three professional references. Please feel free to contact Prof. Chorover ( with any questions.

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