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Undergraduate Research Assistant - Geosciences

Position Title: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Position Summary: The student scholar will work in a project investigating climatic changes in southern South Africa at the transition from the last interglacial period (also known as Marine Isotope Stage [MIS] 5) into the last glacial (MIS4) that happened ~72,000 years ago. This time interval overlaps with the largest volcanic event of the last 2.5 million years, the eruption of the Toba caldera in Sumatra, Indonesia. The volcanic winter of this eruption may have triggered the cooling from MIS5 into MIS4 and caused a decline in human populations worldwide. The few available records from Africa, however suggest little environmental change and thriving human populations with some of the earliest evidence of complex technology and culture at the time. In this project, we identified aerosols from the Toba eruption in speleothems (stalagmites and stalactites) from southern South Africa and are analyzing the same samples for climate proxies to assess the impact of Toba and the MIS5-4 transition.

The student scholar will assist in the preparation of samples and analyses of stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon in the speleothem carbonate. This includes training on a CNC operated micro-drill to produce carbonate powders followed by weighing out specific amounts of powder using a micro-balance. Training will also include acid digestion of carbonate powders and running the analyses on an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. Further lab-operation practices included in training will include cleaning of used vials for re-use and general lab-safety protocols. We will also introduce the student to data processing and interpretation after the analyses. 

We expect a time investment of between 5 and 6 hours per week. 
Student scholar learning outcomes include: 
- experience with laboratory safety protocols and analytical skills
- experience with workflow management for complex sample preparation procedures and analysis

1)     Preparing samples for analysis
2)     Cleaning laboratory glassware
3)     Assisting with mass spectrometer operation

Required Qualifications (include at least one):
1)     Demonstrated ability to work safely in a laboratory environment
2)     Experience handling geologic samples

Preferred Qualifications (if applicable):
1)     Experience working with mass spectrometers

Hourly Pay Rate: $13.65/hour
Benefits Information: Employee Benefit Information can be found on HR’s Website.
Number of openings: 1
Start Date: Varies, between February 13 to May 30, 2023
Background Check: Colorado State University may conduct background checks on all final candidates.

Employee Benefits
Employee Benefit information can be found on HR’s Website at   

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CSU is an EO/EA/AA employer.

Colorado State University may conduct background checks on all final candidates.