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Assistantship Opportunities

Ph.D. Assistantship in Herbivore Physiological Ecology

A position is available for a Ph.D. student to understand, monitor, and manage mechanisms and consequences of environmental and dietary stress in vertebrate herbivore populations. This multidisciplinary project will identify how physiological responses to environmental stressors (human disturbance, climate, predation risk) and poor diet quality (availability, nutrients, chemical defenses) influence the health and population dynamics of avian and mammalian herbivores in the sagebrush steppe, boreal, and arctic systems. The Ph.D. student will work as part of our collaborative team of universities who work closely with agencies in the US and Scandinavia that includes, but is not limited to, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Geological Survey, US Forest Service, the Peregrine Fund, Norwegian Polar Institute, Icelandic Institute of Natural History.  The student will participate in: 1) field work that involves remote sensing of landscapes and wildlife in the field and collection of biological samples across Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Michigan, Iceland and/or Norway (20-30% of data collection) and 2) laboratory work that involves molecular and chemical assays and working with big data (genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and geospatial data, 70-80% of data collection) at Boise State University. Training for both field and laboratory activities will be provided by team members who offer expertise in ecology, physiology, bioinformatics, chemistry, and remote sensing. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Ph.D. Assistantship in Human Behavioral Ecology

A position is available for a Ph.D. student in human behavioral ecology interested in one of the following research topics: sexual conflict, parent-offspring conflict, parental investment, reproductive-decision making, or kin cooperation and conflict. The student will propose a PhD project in their application materials. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant Genomics

A position is available for a Ph.D. student to investigate the impact of abiotic and biotic factors on the diversification of flowering plants by using the species-rich and ecologically important genus Piper as a model. This research will focus on three evolutionary forces: i) climate, i) pollination (a mutualistic process benefiting both the plant and its partner) and iii) plants’ chemical defense (an antagonistic process developed to counteract insect herbivory). A genomic approach will be applied to unravel the evolutionary history of genes underlying pollination syndromes and plants’ defense mechanisms. This will be achieved by sequencing genes involved in inflorescence structures and alkaloid production. The impact of climate on diversification will be investigated by inferring species climatic niches based on museum collections. The contribution of each evolutionary force on the diversification of Piper will be assessed by correlating the emergence of novel genomic functions and/or climatic shifts with shifts of diversification rates along a dated phylogeny. The Ph.D. student will be supervised by Sven Buerki (Boise State University, BSU) in collaboration with James Smith (BSU) and Christopher Davidson (Idaho Botanical Research Foundation, Boise).  The student will also have opportunities to interact with our international network of collaborators. The student will conduct fieldwork to increase the number of samples, look after living specimens of Piper in our greenhouse, generate molecular data (using RNA-Seq, Target Enrichment and Genome Skimming) and analyze those using bioinformatic methods. We expect the student to lead on the writing of several scientific papers. Learn more about this position and how to apply

Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant-Herbivore Interactions

A position is available for a Ph.D. student to scale-up mechanisms and consequences of plant-herbivore interactions from genes to organisms to populations. This multidisciplinary project will identify genetic, physiological and behavioral mechanisms of tolerance to plant phenotypes (phenology, nutrients, chemical defenses) in herbivores to explain population dynamics in arctic systems. The Ph.D. student will work as part of our collaborative team that includes, but is not limited to, the Norwegian Polar Institute, Icelandic Institute of Natural History, University Centre in Svalbard, University of Iceland, University of Tromsø, and Peregrine Fund.  The student will participate in: 1) field work that involves remote sensing, behavioral observations of ptarmigan and reindeer, and collection of samples in established field stations in Norway, Iceland, and/or Alaska (30-40% of data collection) and 2) laboratory work that involves genetic and chemical assays and processing of remotely sensed data (60-70% of data collection) at Boise State University. Training for both field and laboratory activities will be provided by team members who offer expertise in ecology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and remote sensing to provide the student with diverse skills sets and scientific networks to prepare them for broad career opportunities. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant-Soil Interactions

A position is available for a Ph.D. student to study how plant root traits and biodiversity in biofuel cropping systems affect ecosystem function.  This project will investigate: (1) how differences in plant traits belowground affect the microbially mediated processes of soil carbon cycling, and (2) how diversity in belowground plant traits affects soil organismal biodiversity and plant-soil feedbacks.  Our research is conducted in collaboration with a team of supportive scientists from Colorado State University, and Argonne National Laboratory, which manages the long-term biodiversity manipulation experiment located at the Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Research Facility in IL. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant Systematics

A position is available for a Ph.D. student to study the phylogenetics and systematics of Piper section Enckea (Piperaceae).  The section comprises ~60 species from the Amazon to Mexico and the Caribbean Islands, consisting of shrubs to small trees.  This project will investigate the molecular phylogenetic relationships of one of the earlier branching lineages in the genus using a combination of next generation sequencing data, morphology, and biogeography.  Preliminary analyses indicate that some species may not be monophyletic as currently circumscribed, and additional data may resolve cryptic or nearly cryptic species.  The Ph.D. student will work as part of our collaborative team of James Smith at Boise State University and Allan Bornstein at Southeast Missouri State University.  The student will conduct fieldwork to increase the number of samples, generate the molecular data using a combination of laboratory and bioinformatics procedures, as well as analyze the data using current phylogenetic methods.  The student will also examine morphologies of the specimens to interpret evolution of traits within this clade and to understand species boundaries.  This may include analysis via scanning electron microscopy (e.g., seed surface morphology). Learn more about this position and how to apply.