MS Assistantship in Post-wildfire Plant and Soil Microbiome Biology

Vancouver, Washington
Full stipend ($24-30K/year), benefits, and tuition provided for duration of MS.
May 24, 2021
Jun 23, 2021
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Student / Graduate
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Graduate Position: MS on Plant-Microbe Interactions After Wildfire

The Porter lab at Washington State University seeks an MS student to join in investigating how wildfire and drought alter soil microbiomes and soil hydrology to facilitate or inhibit tree regeneration after fire. Over two years, the student will have the opportunity to study post-fire tree seedling regeneration and soil microbiomes using a greenhouse experiment and amplicon sequencing. Prior experience in Evolutionary Ecology, Environmental Science, Microbiology, Plant Science, or Bioinformatics would be useful. The successful candidate will join a collaborative WSU research team spanning plant-microbe interactions (Porter lab), ecohydrology (Moffett lab), and restoration ecology (Cheeke lab), so strong communication skills are a plus.

Project Background. Wildfire and climate change pose a risk of widespread forest conversion to shrub- or grasslands. This conversion has already occurred in many locations around the world, but the contributing mechanisms remain a puzzling and active area of research. Key aspects of forest resilience, such as soil microbial ecology and hydraulic function, are critical drivers of tree seedling survival and drought tolerance. However, fire’s impact on microbial and physical components of soils are rarely tested for their combined effects on post-fire regeneration and drought tolerance, especially outside of boreal forests. We aim to disentangle the disruptions that fire imposes on temperate montane conifer forest seedling-microbe-soil feedbacks at the microscopic scale and any impacts on seedling drought tolerance.

Lab Description. The Porter lab ( investigates diverse projects on the Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Microbe Interactions, ranging from how symbiotic plants and microbes adapt to environmental stresses to the ways in which plant-microbe cooperation shifts during crop domestication. We are housed in the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University, Vancouver. The student will also have the opportunity to engage with Vancouver’s Moffett lab on themes of water-soil-plant interactions in diverse settings, including post-fire systems. Located on a beautiful 351-acre campus across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, WSU Vancouver offers an excellent quality of life.

Recognized by Insight Into Diversity Magazine as a top college for diversity, WSUV and this collaborative project team commit to inclusive excellence by advancing equity and diversity in all that we do.

How to Apply. A BS or BA in a relevant scientific field is required. Tuition, benefits, and stipend will be funded by a combination of research and teaching assistantships, guaranteed for two years. If interested, please email an inquiry with the subject header, “Plant-Microbe-Fire MS,” with CV, GPA, relevant experience and coursework, and a short statement explaining your interest in the position to 

Application review will begin on May 30th, 2021, and continue until the position is filled.  Paid position could begin as soon as July 1st, 2021. For more information about the Masters of Science in Biology or Plant Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU-Vancouver, please see: graduate-programs/biology-and-plant-biology-ms-and-phd 


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