Plant Ecology / Invasive Species / Biosecurity
Recruitment for Ph.D. Student Positions

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Lindera benzoin, pondberry, a federally endangered shrub that is threatened by emerging diseases and habitat loss.

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Invasive grasses are a global threat to biodiversity and human activity.  These six canegrass species clockwise from top left are Arundo donax, Saccharum spontaneum, Cenchrus purpureus, Phragmites australis, Imperata cylindrica, and Megathyrsus maximus.

The Marsico Lab is seeking doctoral students interested in basic and applied plant ecology, with a desire to study the evolutionary ecology of novel interactions in endangered species and invasive species.  One focus in the research lab is biosecurity: preventing and mitigating risks posed by invasive species. Possible research projects include the use of field observations, greenhouse experiments, genomic tools, advanced algorithms, and geographic information systems (GIS).

 

A bachelor’s degree in botany, biology, ecology, computer science, or related field is required, and students who have earned or are about to complete a master’s degree will be given special consideration.  Experience with or an interest in learning to identify vascular plant species is required.  Applicants should have a strong desire for scientific discovery.  Students who have an interest in working outdoors in a variety of settings including swamps, marshlands, forests, roadsides, and industrial landscapes including shipping ports will excel.  Students with experience coding or analyzing genomic datasets or an interest in working at the intersection of biology and computer science will be able to develop interdisciplinary projects that push forward these fields of science.

 

Collaborative opportunities with the Bellis Lab (https://em-bellis.github.io/) and/or the Mangan Lab (https://manganlab.weebly.com/) are important aspects of research projects students will develop, as we have an emphasis on educating interdisciplinary scientists.

 

Another focus in the lab is providing a sense of belonging and meaningful support to students from a variety of backgrounds.  Applicants who are first-generation college students and/or underrepresented minority students are encouraged to apply.  To be considered for these funded positions, students must be United States citizens or permanent residents.  The successful applicant should plan to begin in August 2023, though there is some flexibility in start date.

Funding for these positions is provided through a combination of university Environmental Sciences or Molecular Biosciences program funds and a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship called UandI-DEECoDE (pronounced “You and I decode”): Understanding Invasion and Disease Ecology and Evolution through Computational Data Education (https://www.astate.edu/uandideecode).

 

Arkansas State University is a comprehensive, state-supported, doctoral university with high research activity (R2). The Department of Biological Sciences has nearly 500 undergraduate and 60 graduate students across Biology, Environmental Sciences, and Molecular BioSciences graduate programs. Jonesboro is a community of nearly 80,000 people located in Northeast Arkansas, amidst the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and Crowley’s Ridge ecoregions. We are an hour away from Memphis, Tennessee, and the Ozark Highlands. Jonesboro boasts being a regional center for quality healthcare, having a variety of dining and entertainment options, a low cost of living, and plenty of recreational opportunities.

 

If interested contact Dr. Travis Marsico at tmarsico@astate.edu.

 

If you plan to apply, please send an email to tmarsico@astate.edu (copy the project coordinator, Greg Umhoefer, at gumhoefer@astate.edu) that includes 1) a cover letter describing your interests, career goals, and relevant research experiences and skills; 2) your Curriculum Vitae [including names and contact information for three references]; and 3) a copy of your academic transcript(s).  Review of requested pre-application materials listed above will begin on January 1, 2023, and review of applications will continue until positions are filled. 

 

Travis D. Marsico, Ph.D.

Professor of Botany

Department of Biological Sciences

Curator, Arkansas State University Herbarium (STAR)

Arkansas State University

PO Box 599

State University, AR 72467

870-680-8191

www.travismarsico.com