Join the Russo Lab! Current Research Opportunities

Two Postdoctoral Positions in Plant-Soil-Microbial Interactions

Two 2-year postdoctoral research positions are available in the Russo and Weber ( laboratories in the (School of Biological Sciences). The positions will integrate with the (the Center for Root and Rhizobiome Interactions), a multi-PI NSF-funded project investigating interactions of maize and other grasses with the root-associated microbiome.

The project aims to link variation in the composition and function of the rhizobiome to plant root exudate production and plant traits using stable isotope probing and next-generation –omics approaches, including amplicon and shotgun metagenomic sequencing. The postdocs will work collaboratively with each other, as well as other members of the Weber and Russo laboratories and the CRRI team on field, greenhouse, and lab-based research. The postdoctoral fellows will also have the opportunity to develop independent projects, and the positions offer competitive salary, benefits, and training opportunities. We are looking for creative, independent scientists with a demonstrated track record of scientific publication.

Russo Lab Position: The position in the Russo lab emphasizes the plant-related aspects of the project, including investigating the consequences of different plant carbon-allocation strategies and how plant-soil feedbacks affect plant phenotype and performance. Members of the Russo lab work broadly in plant ecology, linking ecophysiology and plant biotic interactions with demography and patterns of diversity and distributions. Qualified candidates will have a PhD with expertise in analysis of –omics data, molecular biology, ecology, and/or plant biology and physiology.

Weber Lab Position: The position in the Weber lab focuses on direct identification of microbial taxa and microbial metabolic pathways utilizing plant-root exudates through culture-independent techniques. Opportunities to utilize similar techniques in other systems are available, as are the application of culture-dependent approaches through a DOE funded project. Qualified candidates will have a Ph.D. in the following or related areas: microbial ecology and biology, molecular biology, biogeochemistry integrating –omics approaches, and/or computational biology.

UNL has excellent research facilities and an interactive, supportive, and diverse scientific community. The position offers a competitive salary, benefits, and career development opportunities for postdocs ( Lincoln is a safe city boasting an outstanding quality of life that includes a vibrant downtown with lively music and art scenes, over 120 parks and 130 miles of bike trails, plus a low cost of living.

As an EO/AA employer, qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation. Further information can be found here.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal hyphal coils in a grass root; Light micrograph Z-stack.

Graduate Research Opportunities

  • Forest Ecology

    Nebraska's forests house a diversity of herbs, trees, and wildlife, but they are rapidly changing due to environmental stresses, such as altered fire and climate regimes, invasive species, and drought. Graduate student positions are available to conduct research in permanent forest monitoring plots in Nebraskan forests as part of the Smithsonian ForestGEO plot network ( in order to investigate changes in growth, survival, and recruitment rates of trees and understory herbs in response to these environmental drivers. This project involves multi-disciplinary collaborative teams and offers the opportunity to gain skills in areas such as geographic information systems and modeling, in addition to plant ecology, ecophysiology, and demography.

  • Functional Traits of Bornean Tree Species

    This ongoing project involves quantification of leaf, stem, and root functional traits of tree species in Borneo at the Lambir ForestGEO plot ( for use in tree physiological models that predict tree growth and survival, and scale up to forest dynamics.

    Potential applicants should email Sabrina Russo ( with a description of their research interests and experience, and a resume summarizing previous coursework and listing any publications. See the further information here.

Undergraduate and Field Research Opportunities

  • Plant-microbial Interactions

    We are looking for motivated undergraduate student researchers (research for credit or UCARE) to participate in a project examining how plants and soil microorganisms interact, with a focus on agricultural crop species and prairie grasses, as a part of the ongoing CRRI project. We will use stable isotope tracers and genomic and phenomic analyses in greenhouse experiments to describe how microorganisms in the soil interact with plant roots and affect their growth and development, especially under stress. Taking part in this project includes doing experiments with plants in the greenhouse and using a variety of technologies to characterize plant roots and the microbial community near them.

  • Field Research Position: Biodiversity and Change in Nebraska’s Forests

    Nebraska's forests house a diversity of herbs, trees, and wildlife, but they are rapidly changing due to environmental stresses, such as altered fire and climate regimes, invasive species, and drought. The goal of this project is to monitor these changes in order to develop effective conservation and management strategies. The research involves using surveying equipment to map trees in Nebraska's forests in the Niobrara River Valley and then take measurements to monitor the growth and survival of trees, so that the responses to environmental stress can be quantified. Field researchers will work in teams and should be self-motivated, enjoy exploring and working outside for long hours, be physically fit and able to hike on hillsides, and be able to pay attention to detail to ensure accurate data collection. Training will be provided. Positions are available starting April 1, 2019. Email Sabrina Russo at for more information, and send a resume listing relevant coursework and work or research experience.

High School Student Research Opportunities

  • Friend or Foe? Plants and soil microorganisms

    As part of Nebraska EPCSCoR's Young Nebraska Scientists program, the goal of this ongoing project is to understand how soil microorganisms help or hurt the growth and development of plants, particularly agricultural crop species, like corn. The high school researcher will conduct greenhouse experiments involving plants and soil microorganisms and have the opportunity to interact with a wide array of biologists involved in CRRI project.