Three Ph.D. positions in grassland plant ecophysiology


We seek Ph.D. student applicants for a new grassland ecology project funded by the National Science Foundation. This collaborative project will provide plant ecophysiological and remote sensing training for students at Kansas State University, Florida State University, and the University of Pennsylvania,  with the opportunity for networking and interdisciplinary research with all project team members including, Dr. Christopher Still and Dr. Daniel Griffith (Oregon State University), Dr. Jesse Nippert (Kansas State University), Dr. Brent Helliker (Univ. Pennsylvania), Dr. Stephanie Pau (Florida State University), and Dr. William Riley (Lawrence Berkeley National Labs).  

This macrosystems project will apply an evolutionary approach to advance understanding and predictability of grass-dominated ecosystems by filling critical gaps in grass species traits. This project will enhance fundamental understanding of grassy ecosystems, with many applications in agriculture and natural resource management. The research team will develop an integrative framework that reorganizes grass vegetation types around phylogeny-driven functional diversity. Lineage-based trait coordination and distribution will be investigated along environmental gradients in North America at select NEON and LTER sites by collecting novel trait and leaf spectral data and integrating with existing databases. Developing and implementing lineage-based functional traits will increase the accuracy of site-, regional-, and Earth-System-Model-scale predictions, and provide a synthesis of grass functional ecology that is critical for forecasting how grassy biomes will respond to increasing CO2, climate change, and disturbance.

Applicants interested in variation in grass hydraulics and stable-water-isotope enrichment associated with photosynthetic pathway variation and leaf anatomy should contact Dr. Brent Helliker (

Applicants interested in leaf spectral traits and scaling to NEON airborne hyperspectral data and satellite phenology metrics should contact Dr. Stephanie Pau ( 

Applicants with interests in root physiology, linking belowground:aboveground processes and using stable isotopes to infer source-water use should contact Dr. Jesse Nippert (

Funding for this position is guaranteed for the duration of the degree, pending acceptable annual progress. The successful students will coordinate with each project PI for the start dates for each university. Fieldwork and data collection to commence in May 2020. For further details, contact each project PI.

Interested applicants are encouraged to send, to each lab of interest, a single .pdf file that includes a personal statement of interest, CV, and the names and contact information for three professional references.

The advertisement will remain open until suitable candidates are recruited. 

  Last Update:22-Dec-2011