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How to Apply

Please submit the following application materials as one .PDF document by copying and pasting this link into your web browser:

The link will direct you to an MBox dropbox where you will submit your application materials. If you click on the orange ‘Apply Now’ button, your application materials will not be received.

  1. a cover letter addressing interest and qualifications for the position
  2. a resume or curriculum vita
  3. copy of the undergraduate and graduate transcript (unofficial is fine)
  4. teaching history (list course and department)
  5. any available teaching evaluations

Name the .PDF file as follows: last name.first name.course number. For example: Doe.John.Environ430.

Verify your own course schedule against the schedule for the course to which you are applying as a GSI. All GSIs are required to attend the lecture and discussion times as posted.

Course Description

Soils as central components of terrestrial ecosystems. Major emphasis is placed on physical, chemical, and biological properties and their relationships to plant growth and ecosystem processes. Understanding is developed using a combination of lectures, field- and laboratory-based exercises, and individual research. The function of soils in forested ecosystems is the primary focus; however, examples are drawn from a wide range of terrestrial ecosystems.

This course centers on the integration of soil science, forest ecology, and ecosystem ecology. Our goal is to understand:

  • how the interactions of landform, topography, climate, and biota over time lead to the patterns of soil development and the distribution of soil types that we observe within the landscape;
  • how physical, chemical, and biological properties of forest soils affect water and nutrient availability to plants and, ultimately, ecosystem productivity; and
  • how nutrients are cycled within forest ecosystems and how these processes are influenced by land management practices.

In the field portion of the course, we will sample and describe soils of four forest ecosystems and observe first-hand how differences in landform, topography, climate and biota influence soil development. In the laboratory we will analyze our soil samples for a number of physical, chemical, and biological properties. Using these data in conjunction with field data, each student will select two of the four ecosystems for detailed comparison in a term paper. Although we will focus our attention on local forest ecosystems of Michigan, skills learned in this course may be broadly applied within a variety of terrestrial ecosystem types in other geographic regions.


  • Attend lectures
  • Lead Laboratory sections
  • Hold office hours
  • Meet with instructor
  • Grade exams
  • Field trips - transport students to field locations and oversee student field work

Required Qualifications*

  • CPR/First Aid Training (required for all lab and field courses).
  • Proficient using Excel, Word and Powerpoint
  • This position involves transporting students on various field trips for the course
  • Completion of basic and advanced soil science courses and at least one course in plant physiology or ecology.
  • Experience teaching in outdoor laboratory settings as well as indoor laboratories with focus on chemical analyses.
  • Applicant must be in good standing as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. If the language of instruction at undergraduate institution was not English, student must be evaluated by the English Language Institute (ELI) for English proficiency and either pass the GSI-OET or have this test waived by the ELI before they can be eligible for a GSI appointment in LS&A.

Desired Qualifications*

  • Previous teaching and laboratory experience is desired.
  • A working knowledge of chemical equilibria, ionic solution chemistry, pH, and oxidation-reduction reactions is highly recommended. Also useful (although not required) is familiarity with biochemistry, plant physiology, microbiology, geology, and local flora.

Contact Information

Please contact instructor: Donald Zak, for questions about job responsibilities. If you have questions about how to apply for the position please email

Decision Making Process

Faculty review applications for positions in their courses and indicate their ranked preferences. They are also asked to indicate whether they regard any applicants as unqualified and why.

Selection Process

Instructors have access to their position description and selection criteria along with the applications for their course(s). Instructors review their applications and rank the candidates for each position. In addition to ranking the qualified applicants, instructors may identify applicants as unqualified for the position.

GEO Contract Information

The University will not discriminate against any applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, genetic information, marital status, familial status, parental status or pregnancy status, sex, gender identity or expression (whether actual or perceived), sexual orientation, age, height, weight, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, HIV antibody status, political belief, membership in any social or political organization, participation in a grievance or complaint whether formal or informal, medical conditions including those related to pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, arrest record, or any other factor where the item in question will not interfere with job performance and where the employee is otherwise qualified. The University of Michigan agrees to abide by the protections afforded employees with disabilities as outlined in the rules and regulations which implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Information for the Office for Institutional Equity may be found at and for the University Ombuds at

Unsuccessful applications will be retained for consideration in the event that there are last minute openings for available positions. In the event that an employee does not receive their preferred assignment, they can request a written explanation or an in-person interview with the hiring agents(s) to be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time.

This position, as posted, is subject to a collective bargaining agreement between the Regents of the University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees' Organization, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO 3550.

Standard Practice Guide 601.38, Required Disclosure of Felony Charges and/or Felony Convictions applies to all Graduate Student Assistants (GSAs). SPG 601.38 may be accessed online at , and its relation to your employment can be found in MOU 10 of your employment contract.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.