Postdoctoral Research Position in the Restoration of Soil Biodiversity in Urban Greenspaces

Description of the role

We are looking for a highly motivated postdoc for a 2.5 year full time position that will commence on 1 September 2022 (start date flexible). The position will be based in the EcoDiv Lab at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand.

The successful candidate will work within the broad, multi-disciplinary ‘People, Cities & Nature’ research programme centred around restoring urban nature, and will focus on the research aim ‘Restoring Health-Promoting Soil Biodiversity’. Exposure to soil biodiversity in urban greenspaces can promote human and wildlife health by impacting their microbiomes. However, the development of soil biodiversity following aboveground restoration is poorly understood, as are the pathways through which people are exposed to this biodiversity. This project will characterise soil biodiversity from across an urban forest restoration chronosequence. Using a combination of taxonomic, molecular, and network modelling techniques, the candidate will investigate associations between plant, animal and microbial biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and ecosystem stability during ecosystem development.

The candidate will provide ecological expertise to assist the People, Cities & Nature research programme. They will work with an existing multi-disciplinary team of researchers and will therefore need to be an effective communicator, liaising between the research leaders and post-graduate students in the programme. The candidate will also help with leading research planning design, orchestrate fieldwork, support lab work, and contribute to data management, analysis and research outputs of the programme. This role involves a combination of field, lab, and office work, attending regular team meetings, and reporting to the Research Aim leader/s. Although you will be based at the University of Waikato, some team members are located overseas or at other NZ institutions, so you must have excellent ability to communicate clearly with them remotely.

Specific tasks

  • Participate in initiated relationships with partners/collaborators, such as carrying out fieldwork and conducting data synthesis within the programme.
  • Managing programme research aims and timeline, support leadership to hit annual targets including Critical Steps and annual reporting to funders (NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).
  • Contribute to published outputs from the program, present at conferences, and assist with meeting/workshop planning.
  • Supervision of PhD and MSc students.

Your profile

  • You have a PhD in soil ecology or ecosystem ecology (or similar) with a background in topics such as ecological networks, functional traits, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, ecological genetics/genomics, or related fields.
  • You are highly proficient in managing large datasets and advanced statistical modelling, preferably with programming skills in R (and/or other languages like Python).
  • You are experienced in writing and publishing scientific literature, demonstrated by first-authored, high-quality publications in internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals.
  • You have experience working in collaborative research teams, from which you have developed excellent communication skills that allow you to work with postgraduate students and project leaders from different specialist backgrounds.
  • You have experience with supervising Master’s and PhD students and are comfortable with guiding them through the development of research projects, as well as assisting with data analysis and writing.
  • You value indigenous knowledge, specifically Mātauranga Māori and Te ao Māori or you respect and have a willingness to learn about other worldviews and knowledge systems. 

Terms of employment and how to apply:

The postdoc position is full time (37.5 hours per week) and is fixed-term for 2.5 years (30 months) with a starting date of September 1, 2022 (start date is negotiable). The position is within the People, Cities & Nature programme and is based at the University of Waikato within the EcoDiv Lab. The expected salary range will be NZ $80,837 to $86,478 per year, dependent on qualifications and experience. Enquiries of an academic nature should be directed to Dr Andrew Barnes ( For applicants who are not NZ Citizens or Permanent Residents, we recommend you check the NZ Immigration website for updates related to Covid-19 restrictions on entry to New Zealand:

Interested candidates should submit 1) a letter of motivation that clearly outlines your interest in the advertised project and what you will bring to the research programme, and 2) a curriculum vitae, including a list of scientific publications.

Deadline for applications: June 7, midnight NZST

All applications must be submitted online. To apply online and for further information, please see:; Vacancy Number: 420235.