Graduate student opportunity in paleoecology and plant ecology


UPDATE: I have conducted interviews for this position, and am not currently accepting new applicants for 2013. If you’re interested in discussing future graduate opportunities with me, feel free to contact me after reading the instructions below.

I am seeking a highly motivated graduate student to join my new lab at the University of Maine in Orono this fall. I’m a newly appointed Assistant Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology with the School of Biology and Ecology and the Climate Change Institute.

 As a paleoecologist and biogeographer, I use the tools of space and time to understand questions of conservation relevance. You can read more about me and my research here. In my lab, I use a combination of lake sediment proxy analyses (e.g. pollen, charcoal), modern experiments, and modeling (including dynamic vegetation models and species distribution modeling).
Possible projects include:
1) Testing whether modern North American plant species are dispersal-limited in the absence of extinct herbivores (e.g. mammoths, passenger pigeons).
2) Using plant traits to asses changes in ecosystem function over the last 18,000 years.
3) Testing the effects of tree species gains and losses on New England forest ecosystem function using sediment records.
4) Identifying signatures of Native American land use (including fire) in pre-European New England forests.
5) Using the paleorecord to understand tipping points and other responses to abrupt climate change, particularly in forest-grassland transitions.
6) Assessing the relative effects of bison herbivory and climate change on prairie vegetation during the Holocene.I’m also open to discussing other opportunities with the right student, so if you have a particular project you’d like to pitch that you think would be a good fit, feel free to contact me. The ideal candidate should have field and/or lab experience (not necessarily paleo-related, though the student should be interested in paleoecology), a demonstrated ability to work independently (such as a senior thesis or post-baccalaureate work), and strengths in communication, quantitive skills, or both.
I currently have two years of a Teaching Assistantship to fund a graduate student, ideally at the Masters level (though this is flexible). This funding comes with a stipend, tuition remission, and benefits.
The University of Maine is internationally recognized for strengths in climate science and ecology, and students will have access to experimental forests, greenhouses, and a wide range of laboratory facilities. Campus is an hour from Acadia National Park, and Maine is a great place for outdoor recreation (climbing, hiking, paddle sports). Bangor, the state’s third largest city, is ten minutes away. If you’re interested, please send a CV attached to a message briefly expressing your background, career, and research interests to jacquelynlgill [at] This position will remain open until filled.

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