Postdoctoral Research Positions

Available postdoctoral positions will be posted here as they become available. If you are interested in opportunities in STEPS, please contact us

Postdoctoral Opportunity at NC State

Dr. Owen Duckworth in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences seeking an exceptional postdoctoral associate to conduct NSF-funded independent research in the areas of geospatial modeling, nutrient biogeochemistry, and environmental/agricultural data analysis. The project will involve the collection and curation of soil phosphorus data, developing models to predict soil P at high resolution across the US, and interfacing the models with other national P models to develop inventories to develop comprehensive P budgets. Opportunities exist to interact closely with distinguished intramural and extramural collaborators working on all aspects of phosphorus sustainability. The position is under the direction and supervision of Dr. Owen Duckworth in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences but will collaborate closely with Drs. Natalie Nelson and Dan Obenour from the Departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. It is funded through the newly established NSF Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center. Applicants should apply and be available to start as soon as possible. The position is supported through October 2024, with the possibility of renewal with satisfactory performance. A Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Soil Science, Hydrologic Science, Data Science, or a related discipline is required.

Learn more about this opportunity here: ModelingLegacyPpostdoc2023

Postdoctoral Opportunity at NC State

The NC State Materials Science and Engineering Department of North Carolina State University is actively searching for a talented Postdoctoral Researcher to join the group of Prof. Yaroslava Yingling. They seek an innovative individual with a robust background in data science techniques and materials engineering to contribute to their research projects. The successful candidate will be part of the Convergence Informatics team at the NSF STEPS (Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability) Center. The main objective of this position is to design a new heterogeneous data workflow that integrates diverse data from the STEPS center. The aim is to develop novel and effective materials, technologies, and strategies for phosphorus capture, decomposition, and modification, thereby contributing to sustainability efforts.

As a part of this interdisciplinary project, the postdoctoral researcher will collaborate with multiple research groups, providing a unique opportunity for networking and professional growth. STEPS seeks to discover new science and develop new technologies and techniques that will increase the level of recycled phosphorus and reduce society’s dependence on mined phosphorus by using a convergence research approach. The outcomes of STEPS activities will lead to the enhanced resilience of food systems and improve environmental conditions. STEPS is a partnership between North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, Clemson University, University of Florida, RTI International, Appalachian State University, Marquette University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


  • A Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, or a related discipline.
  • Strong expertise in data science techniques, demonstrating ability in their application to materials research.
  • Creativity and a proactive approach to problem-solving.
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively within a diverse multidisciplinary team.

To apply for this position, please send your CV, a cover letter outlining your research interests and relevant expertise, and contact information for three references to Prof. Yingling at yara_yingling@ncsu.edu. Please use the subject line: “Postdoctoral Researcher Application”.

Learn more about this opportunity here: Postdoctoral Position in Materials Informatics for Phosphorus Sustainability

Graduate Research Positions

Available graduate positions will be posted here as they become available. If you are interested in student opportunities in STEPS, please contact us

Graduate Opportunity at NC State

Dr. Dan Obenour in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering is seeking a graduate student to fill an open research assistant position in the Environmental Modeling and Forecasting lab group at NC State University in Raleigh. The position will focus on modeling of nutrient flows and downstream water quality impacts. This position is associated with STEPS (https://steps-center.org/), a convergence research center focused on phosphorus sustainability. Through STEPS, the selected student will have opportunities to interact closely with researchers in other fields, provide stakeholder outreach, and support junior students, including those from under-represented groups.

Primary responsibilities will include computational modeling and the development of scholarly manuscripts and presentations. The student will be based at either the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering or the Center for Geospatial Analytics, depending on the student’s background and interests. Preference will be given to motivated candidates with expertise in one or more of the following areas: water quality dynamics, geospatial analysis, coding, statistical modeling, and/or machine learning.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Obenour (drobenour@ncsu.edu), providing a resume/CV and brief summary of research interests and qualifications. Outstanding candidates will be encouraged to submit a full application (https://grad.ncsu.edu/programs/how-to-apply/). Members of under-represented groups are especially encouraged to apply. The position is available in January 2024, though later start dates (e.g., August 2024) will be considered. The selected applicant will receive a competitive stipend, full tuition, and benefits.

Learn more about this opportunity here: Nutrient and Water Resources Modeling Graduate Opportunity

Undergraduate Positions

Available undergraduate positions will be posted here as they become available. If you are interested in student opportunities in STEPS, please contact us

Undergraduate Opportunity at NC State

Job title: Communications Assistant for STEPS
Job description: Support internal and external communications for STEPS Center. Duties include drafting social media posts and new stories; recording video interviews; editing videos; maintaining and publishing WordPress website content; photographing events; assisting with overall Center communication strategy and other related duties as needed. Experience using WordPress and/or editing videos preferred.
Position location: Mostly remote with some in-person event attendance
Details: $15/hour for ~6 hours/week; total pay is $1,000 each semester
How to apply: Please send an email to the supervisor, Dr. Meagan Kittle Autry (makittle@ncsu.edu), using the email body as a cover letter to explain your interest in the position, what professional skills you’d like to gain in the role, and any relevant experience or coursework you have. Please attach your resume.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

STEPS REU and Research Experience for Future Farmers (REF)

STEPS will support 15 students for ten weeks during Summer 2023 through a multi-institutional REU/REF program. Students will work on independent research projects within the Center under the mentorship of STEPS Scholars and faculty. Students will be placed on projects that align with their research and career interests at one of the eight STEPS academic institutions.
Learn more here.

STEPS Center Director’s Fellowship Awards

The STEPS Center Director’s Fellowship Awards provide prestigious bridge support for stipends, fringe benefits, and tuition (if relevant) for the engagement of high performing graduate students (Masters and Ph.D.) and postdoctoral scholars.

The awards provide interim support of a maximum of 1 year for scholars during their appointment at a STEPS institution who are either beginning research prior to joining an existing STEPS Project (e.g., new recruits) or are building upon existing projects in ways that promote new convergence/integration across STEPS (e.g., new meta-level research projects, creating final products from projects that are ending). When used as a recruitment tool, the Director’s Fellowship Award can provide time for students to establish core competencies in relevant fields, experiment with cross-disciplinary training, and/or work with multiple mentors/PIs in new research areas before committing to a specific project, PI(s), or program.  Research projects that include aspects of diversity scholarship, stakeholder engagement, and participatory research are particularly encouraged, even if a component of a broader research scope.

Learn more here. If you are interested in fellowship opportunities with STEPS, please contact us.


Link to 2023 STEPS Center Director’s Fellowship Award Program Announcement