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Subject: PhD position on predator sensitivity to extinction


The Aquatic Ecology and Global Change Lab in the Department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University is seeking Ph.D applicants to undertake research on predator sensitivity to extinction. Trophic cascades are a charismatic topic in ecology, and one that has received wide attention from both the scientific and public community. The drive for understanding the effects of predator loss on the structuring and functioning of ecological communities is largely based on the assumption that predators are at a high risk of local or global extinction. Yet several studies that have investigated ecological mechanisms that underlie extinction risk have failed to investigate or show that trophic level is an important trait. As a result the question still remains, “Are predators at a higher risk of extinction compared to other trophic levels?” The project will involve meta-analyses and working with big data.

The successful applicant will be based out of the Atwood (http://trishaatwood.weebly.com/) and Hammill lab’s at Utah State University, but will visit and work closely with the McCauley lab (https://labs.eemb.ucsb.edu/mccauley/doug/) at the University of California, Santa Barbra (USA) and the Madin lab (http://oceansphere.org/) at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). Students with a prior knowledge of computer programming, the statistical programming package R, ArcGIS, and prior experience extracting and analyzing big data are particularly encouraged to apply.  Students must meet the minimum qualifications for acceptance into the graduate program: GPA of at least 3.4, 40th percentile in both verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE’s, three letters of recommendation.   

Utah State University (http://www.usu.edu) is a Research I (Extensive Doctoral) land-grant institution with a student body of over 24,000, 42 departments, 8 academic colleges, a school of Graduate Studies, and diverse research programs. The main campus is located in Logan, a community of 100,000 people. Logan is 85 miles north of Salt Lake City in scenic Cache Valley, a semi-rural mountain basin with nearby ski resorts, lakes, rivers, and mountains providing many recreational opportunities. The area has a low cost of living and provides a high quality of life.  For more information on Logan see http://www.tourcachevalley.com.

Initial funding for tuition and salary has been secured. However, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowships through the NSF and other sources, and internal fellowships at Utah State (http://rgs.usu.edu/graduateschool/htm/finances/fellowships, and http://rgs.usu.edu/graduateschool/finances/funding-available-to-graduate-students). Candidates will be provided extensive support with the application process. Starting salaries are $20,000 for a PhD.

Please contact Trisha Atwood (trisha.atwood@usu.edu, 435 797 5729) for more information or to submit application materials (CV, cover letter, any publications, details of research interests, official/unofficial GRE scores and transcripts, and names of three people willing to provide a letter of reference). Initial review of applications will begin Nov 30th 2015. Lab website http://trishaatwood.weebly.com/

Trisha Atwood <trisha.atwood@usu.edu>
Friday, November 27, 2015

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