Join the Russo Lab! Current Research Opportunities

Postdoctoral Research Position in Plant-Microbe Interactions

A postdoctoral research position is available in plant science with a focus on plant-microbe interactions in the Russo lab in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln ( The position is part of a multi-PI NSF-funded project ( investigating plant-microbe interactions in natural grassland and agricultural systems. The postdoctoral fellow will work collaboratively with other project investigators on multi-disciplinary field, greenhouse, and lab-based research to examine how microbial community structure and function influence plant phenotypes using genomic and phenomic methods, and will also have the opportunity to develop independent projects.

Qualified candidates will be creative, independent, and motivated scientists and have a PhD and a demonstrated track-record of scientific publication in the following or related areas: plant-microbe interactions, plant ecology or physiology, bioinformatics or -omics approaches. Interested candidates should send a single PDF document with a cover letter explaining their interests and experience and a CV listing the names and contact information of three references to Dr. Sabrina Russo ( with the subject line, “CRRI Postdoctoral Position”. Evaluation of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

UNL has excellent research facilities and an interactive 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. UNL is committed to a pluralistic campus community through affirmative action, equal opportunity, work-life balance, and dual careers. See the further information here.

Graduate Research Opportunities

  • Plant-Soil Feedbacks

    This ongoing project ( investigates interactions between grasses and agricultural crops with the soil microbial community. A variety of approaches (field, greenhouse, genomic, and experimental) are being used to address questions ranging from identifying patterns of soil and rhizosphere microbial diversity, to investigations of mechanisms involved in plant-soil feedbacks, especially under stress.

  • Nebraska Forest Dynamics and Management

    This project will involve establishing a set of permanent forest monitoring plots in Nebraskan forests as a part of the Smithsonian ForestGEO plot network ( in order to build models that integrate vital rates and environmental drivers to describe and forecast changes in forest composition, function, and geographic and habitat ranges and that aid in developing adaptive management plans for forest conservation.

  • 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.

    These projects involve multi-disciplinary collaborative teams and offer the opportunity to gain skills in areas such as microbial ecology, bioinformatics, genomics, geographic information systems, and modeling, in addition to ecology. 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 Vallye 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 to be able to hike on hillsides, and be able to pay attention to detail to ensure accurate data collection. Training will be provided. The hourly wage is $12/hour, and the position is available immediately. 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.