Kenyon Macroecology Laboratory

Biodiversity and functional ecology, mostly plants

Postdoctoral Position

The Kerkhoff Lab at Kenyon College, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona, Wesleyan University, and the Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) (, is pleased to invite applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar in biodiversity science and ecoinformatics to join a vibrant interdisciplinary research team.

With mentorship from Dr. Drew Kerkhoff and Dr. Brian Enquist (University of Arizona) the fellow will contribute to an NSF-funded research project addressing the evolutionary, ecological, and biogeographic processes underlying continental scale patterns of plant biodiversity. The fellow will reside at Kenyon College, a highly selective liberal arts college serving 1,700 undergraduates, but will also have opportunities to travel to the University of Arizona and other institutions for research collaborations.

The fellow will work with an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, paleobiologists, biogeographers, and data scientists to leverage the resources of the BIEN database, which is the largest extant botanical data resource, detailing the distributions, functional traits, and phylogenetic relationships of over 90,000 embryophyte (land plant) species, in order to answer fundamental questions about the distribution of land plant biodiversity and its relation to changing climates, both in the distant past and in the future.  Specific topics may include (a) modeling land plant diversification and trait evolution, (b) quantifying the functional diversity of biome- and continental-scale flora, (c) developing ecoinformatic workflows for combining phylogentic, functional, and bioclimatic data. The fellow will also be encouraged to develop their own individual research interests.

In addition to collaborating with BIEN researchers, the fellow will help to develop open-source educational materials that integrate ecoinformatic approaches into the undergraduate biology curriculum, in order to better prepare the next generation of biodiversity scientists. At Kenyon, the fellow will join an active community of teacher-scholars, committed to excellence in education and to involving undergraduate scientists in cutting-edge research, funded by grants from the NSF, NIH, and EPA.

One of the most significant challenges confronting small liberal arts colleges in the United States today is attracting members of underrepresented groups. A diverse faculty benefits students, faculty, and administrators alike by enriching the nature of the educational experience for all, and the biology department and the college are both committed to providing a welcoming and supportive community for all, regardless of sex; racial, ethnic, national, or cultural background; sexual orientation; disability status; or gender identity or expression. This position is an excellent opportunity for a young scholar from an underrepresented group to be become familiar with the unique professional opportunities provided small liberal arts colleges. The fellow will participate fully in the life of the faculty, with opportunities for professional development and mentorship, but without the additional responsibilities of a full-time faculty member.

Essential Duties

Conduct research; compile, analyze, and synthesize data; disseminate results in presentations and scientific publications; mentor undergraduate researchers.

 Minimum Qualifications

  • Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. in ecology, biogeography, informatics, or a related field by the start date of the appointment. Applicants who have not yet completed their doctorate must indicate the date the degree is expected.
  • Applicants must have training or experience in computational approaches to the study of biodiversity, with at least some programming experience in R, Python, SQL, or other similar tools.
  • Applicants should demonstrate evidence of prior research experience and publications, and highly developed analytical skills, as well as excellent communication skills.
  • Applicants should have a commitment to undergraduate education, and a strong interest in developing teaching and mentoring skills.
  • This position requires the ability to work independently, to collaborate with faculty and other collaborating researchers, and to help mentor undergraduate researchers.

 Desired Qualifications

The applicant should have experience in one or more of the following: plant ecology/botany (including either field or herbarium work), phylogenetic approaches, geographic information science, biostatistics, database management.

Kenyon College is a highly selective private liberal arts college dedicated to excellent undergraduate education. Kenyon provides exceptional facilities, an outstanding student population, a strong junior-faculty mentoring program, and a collegial liberal arts environment that promotes success and satisfaction among the faculty. Kenyon College is an Equal Opportunity Employer, especially committed to building a diverse faculty.

To Apply

Please email Drew Kerkhoff ( Application review will begin March 1 and continue until the position is filled.