[[Updated 04MAR2021]]

Graduate Student (M.S. or Ph.D) Research Assistantship:

Permafrost-Affected Soil Morphology, Genesis, and Classification

(Download pdf announcement here)

The Jelinski Lab in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate is seeking a graduate research assistant (MS or PhD applicants may be considered) starting in Summer or Fall 2021. This student will conduct field research, laboratory analysis, and quantitative modeling of permafrost-affected soils in Alaska. Research topics may include: 1) the quantification of organic carbon stocks in permafrost-affected soils, 2) the morphology and genesis of permafrost-affected soils in Alaska, and 3) application of geospatial techniques to improve knowledge of the distribution of permafrost-affected soils. The student will be a member of the Land and Atmospheric Science (LAAS) graduate program based on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. This position will require fieldwork in Alaska (~4-6 weeks/year), in remote areas with difficult terrain and under all weather conditions. This position will include opportunities to assist in teaching Basic Soil Science, Field Study of Soils, and Soil Judging. Students will be supported in professional development and networking opportunities, including collaborations with scientists at federal agencies and opportunities to attend national and international conferences. This graduate assistantship includes a stipend (~$26,340 in the first year with a 2.2% stipend increase every subsequent year), as well as full tuition, health insurance, and research expense coverage.


Required qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree with an interest in soil-vegetation relationships and geospatial analysis.

  • Ability to carry at least 30-40 lbs across difficult terrain during field sampling work *(applicants unable to meet this requirement may describe any necessary accommodations as an addendum to their application statement).

  • Scientific writing experience/skills. *(may include coursework, research, or professional experiences)

  • A valid driver’s license or ability to obtain one *(applicants unable to meet this requirement may describe any necessary accommodations as an addendum to their application statement).

  • GRE scores are NOT required for entrance to the LAAS graduate program.


Preferred qualifications:

  • Previous experience, or interest, in teaching.

  • Interest in or direct experience with improving data access for Alaska Native or Indigenous communities; or member of Alaska Native or Indigenous communities.

  • Introductory coding experience (e.g., R or Python) or interest in learning.

  • Introductory experience in ArcGIS, QGIS or other geospatial analysis platforms or interest in learning.

  • Interest in obtaining First Aid or Wilderness Medical training (financial support provided).

  • Major or minor in soil science, environmental science, or closely-related field.

  • Knowledge of or interest in soil morphology, genesis, and taxonomy.

  • Previous experience, or interest, in planning and/or implementing trip logistics.


Interested candidates should submit the following to jelinskilab@umn.edu with the subject line “[LastName-FirstName]-Research Assistant Interest” (please fill in your own last name for “LastName-FirstName”). Application review will begin on March 26th, 2021 and continue until the position is filled:

  1. A statement of one page or less that includes: 1) previous research or educational experience, 2) how this assistantship can serve your career objectives, and 3) the perspectives you have gained from personal background and life experiences.

  2. CV or resume


These materials will be reviewed by an independent panel of staff and graduate students. Top candidates will be passed to Dr. Jelinski, who will contact potential applicants for further information including references and transcripts. The successful applicant will then apply to the Land and Atmospheric Science graduate program.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Department of Soil Water and Climate is committed to maintaining a supportive and inclusive environment; inviting and encouraging diverse and under-represented perspectives; actively and intentionally incorporating educational and research content that reflects diverse ways of understanding our world; identifying and working together toward elimination of cultural, structural, and institutional barriers to inclusivity and success; listening to feedback, engaging in dialogue, and continuously re-evaluating our progress towards our aspirations. The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity statement can be found here.