(posted February 21, 2022)​

Assistant Professor of Soil Health & Microbial Ecology


The University of Connecticut (UConn) is pleased to invite applications for a faculty position in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA) in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). This is a full-time, 9-month appointment (with the opportunity for summer salary from grants) tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor of Soil Health & Microbial Ecology with a 60% research and 40% teaching appointment. This position is part of a cluster hire to collectively investigate soil health and plant interactions, and to contribute to investigations related to statewide strategies for soil health aimed at mitigation and adaptation to climate change as described in the Governor's Council on Climate Change (GC3) (https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Climate-Change/GC3/Governors-Council-on-Climate-Change).

The successful candidate will be expected to develop a nationally recognized, extramurally funded, innovative research program in soil health and microbial ecology, demonstrate effective teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and strengthen programs related to soil, plant, and environmental health and sustainability within the Department and University. The selected candidate will be expected to lead collaborative, integrated research projects focused on soil microbial ecology and soil and plant health.

Potential basic and applied research areas include but are not limited to: soil health, soil ecology, and soil-plant-microbiome interactions with an emphasis on the discovery of functional interactions that mitigate abiotic and biotic stresses, optimize plant nutrient use efficiency, enhance plant productivity, improve sustainability of agricultural systems, increase soil carbon sequestration, or mitigate and adapt to climate change. The successful candidate will also investigate innovative tools and technologies to assess and interpret soil health with the goal of enhancing the adoption of soil health biological assessments and best practices in managed plant systems.

The successful candidate will collaborate with Extension Soil Health personnel on research and programs that focus on soil health and soil-plant-microbiome interactions with an outcome of increased adoption of novel strategies that lead to improved agricultural, economic, and environmental sustainability. Teaching responsibilities will include the Departmental introductory Environmental Soils lecture course and associated Environmental Soils laboratory sections. The successful candidate will also develop an upper-division undergraduate/graduate-level course in the area of their expertise, preferably in soil ecology/biology/microbiome/plant interactions. Other duties include advising graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and contributing to departmental, college, and university service activities.

Applicants should provide evidence of strong potential for conducting and publishing research, being competitive for external research funding, excellence in research methods, excellence in teaching, and strong interest and skills in advising and mentoring undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral scientists. An ability to engage professionally with a diverse population of industry, faculty, staff, and students across the University is required.

The Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA) is one of nine academic units within the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. PSLA is a program that proudly serves the needs of Connecticut through graduate and undergraduate education, outstanding public-outreach programs associated with formal Extension and engaged scholarship, and nationally competitive research programs. We offer programs leading to B.S. in Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems, a nationally accredited B.S. in Landscape Architecture, M.S. in Landscape Architecture, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant and Soil Sciences, including Agronomy, Horticulture, Plant Breeding, Plant Environment, Soil Science, and Soil Chemistry. The Plant Science program in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree with concentrations in ornamental horticulture, turfgrass management, or sustainable crop production.

The research and teaching infrastructure of the Department includes wet laboratories, greenhouses, growth chambers, design studio, access to the college compost facility, and a 153-acre farm. The Department is home to the Home & Garden Education Center, the Plant Diagnostics Clinic, Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center, the Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory, the Plant Transformation Facility, and the Waxman Conifer Collection. These resources facilitate and support extension and outreach to educators, homeowners, green industries, and commercial agriculture. Additionally, UConn's Center for Open Research Resources & Equipment (https://core.uconn.edu/about) provides faculty access to a wide array of state-of-the-art core research and computational facilities. PSLA is headquartered on UConn's main Storrs Campus, well placed between New York, Boston, Providence, and Hartford. For further information, please visit our website (www.psla.uconn.edu).

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has developed and implemented a Strategic Vision to guide the development and focus of our teaching, research and Extension programs in the years 2020-2025. Faculty hired for this position will be expected to make significant contributions in their area of expertise, contributing to the advancement of one or more of the CAHNR's five strategic priorities.

  • Ensuring a vibrant agricultural industry and sustainable food supply;
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally and globally;
  • Fostering sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces;
  • Advancing resilience and adaptation in a changing climate; and
  • Dismantling structural racism and fostering environments that advance racial equity, inclusion and belonging by advocating for anti-racist policies, practices and norms.

The CAHNR Strategic Vision (https://cahnr.uconn.edu/visionandvalues/) provides additional information on the strategic initiatives and their related areas of emphasis.

The University prioritizes scholarship in areas that include health and environmental sustainability and offers significant opportunity for cross-disciplinary, collaborative scholarship in a number of areas including healthy and active communities, shoreline and community resilience, stormwater management and green infrastructure, sustainable cities, landscape ecology, multi-modal transportation, and digital visualization and spatial analytics. UConn has been recognized as one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly campuses by a national publication of Sierra magazine. 

Founded in 1881, UConn is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution and member of the Space Grant Consortium. It is the state's flagship institution of higher education and includes a main campus in Storrs, CT, four regional campuses throughout the state, and 13 Schools and Colleges, including a Law School in Hartford, and Medical and Dental Schools at the UConn Health campus in Farmington. The University has approximately 10,000 faculty and staff and 32,000 students, including nearly 24,000 undergraduates and over 8,000 graduate and professional students. UConn is a Carnegie Foundation R1 (highest research activity) institution, among the top 25 public universities in the nation. Through research, teaching, service, and outreach, UConn embraces diversity and cultivates leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. UConn promotes the health and well-being of citizens by enhancing the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments of the state and beyond. The University serves as a beacon of academic and research excellence as well as a center for innovation and social service to communities. UConn is a leader in many scholarly, research, and innovation areas. Today, the path forward includes exciting opportunities and notable challenges. Record numbers of undergraduate applications and support for student success have enabled the University to become extraordinarily selective.


  • Ph.D. in soil science, soil microbiology, soil fertility, soil ecology, biogeochemistry, plant pathology, or a closely related field.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and ability to conduct high-throughput sequencing, bioinformatics, and statistical modelling approaches in genomic, metabolomic, and proteomic studies to answer soil health questions.
  • Demonstrated ability to publish original research in scientific peer-review journals.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate original research via presentations to appropriate professional societies and scientific communities.
  • Teaching experience.


  • Postdoctoral experience in microbiome research related to soil health.
  • Experience in isolation and cultivation of diverse/selective microbial taxa from environmental samples.
  • A strong and consistent record of peer-reviewed publications in high-impact factor scientific journals covering soil microbiome.
  • Demonstrated ability to write grant proposals, and a record of successful grant outcomes commensurate with the applicant's career level.
  • Demonstrated ability to synthesize research results in providing science-based recommendations for producers, practitioners, other scientists, and governmental agencies.
  • Teaching experience at the college level with Instructor of Record, full-class responsibilities.
  • Demonstrated effective verbal and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated leadership skills in collaborative research.
  • Mentoring graduate students or postdoctoral research scientists.


This is a full-time, 9-month, tenure-track position with an anticipated start date of August 23, 2022, with a 60% research and 40% teaching appointment. There is also the opportunity for a summer salary from grants. The successful candidate's academic appointment will be at the Storrs campus. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.


Employment at the University of Connecticut is contingent upon the successful candidate's compliance with the University's Mandatory Workforce COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.  This Policy states that all workforce members are required to have or obtain a Covid-19 vaccination as a term and condition of employment at UConn, unless an exemption or deferral has been approved. 

Employment of the successful candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.


Please apply online to Academic Jobs Online https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/21149 and submit the following application materials:

  • A cover letter (up to two pages; that addresses how the applicant meets the minimum and preferred qualifications, why the applicant is the best fit for the position, and how your work at UConn will contribute to one or more of CAHNR strategic priorities);
  • Curriculum vitae,
  • Research and scholarship statement (up to two pages; innovative concepts that will form the basis of academic career, experience in proposal development and grant acquisition, publication rate and quality, mentorship of graduate students, etc.);
  • Teaching statement (up to two pages; including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, commitment to effective learning, concepts for new course development, etc.);
  • Commitment to diversity statement (up to two pages; including broadening participation, integrating multicultural experiences in instruction and research and pedagogical techniques to meet the needs of diverse learning styles, etc.);
  • Selected High-Impact Peer-Review Journal Articles (no more than three);
  • Names and contact information for three (3) letters of reference.

Evaluation of applicants will begin immediately and will be accepted until March 15, 2022. Inquiries about the position should be directed to: Dr. Haiying Tao (haiying.tao@uconn.edu) or Dr. Karl Guillard (karl.guillard@uconn.edu).

At the University of Connecticut, our commitment to excellence is complemented by our commitment to building a culturally diverse community.

This position will be filled subject the budgetary approval.

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University's teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn's ranking as one of the nation's top research universities. UConn's faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.​

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