Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Seeking a Master's student: biocrust biodiversity, does it offer resistance to climate change

Syntrichia caninervis, one of the stars of the new project (image: Jepson Herbarium, UC Berkely)

The School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, seeks a motivated Master of Science (M.S.F.) student to conduct field and greenhouse experiments in Flagstaff, Arizona and field sites in southeast Utah starting in Fall 2017. The student will be co-advised by Matthew Bowker and Anita Antoninka on a new NSF-funded Dimensions of Biodiversity project in collaboration with 5 institutions (PI- Llo Stark, UNLV). The student will explore the relationship between biodiversity in moss and biocrust communities and their resistance to climate change stressors. The project will: 1. Conduct a greenhouse experiment to first develop “custom” biocrusts with varying levels of community diversity, and genetic diversity within a focal moss taxon (Syntrichia), then monitor the response of the communities to stress. 2. Track trade-offs in stress tolerance and reproduction in Syntrichia biocrusts experimentally transplanted on an elevation gradient. 3. Document the outcomes of long-term simulated climate change as expressed by stress tolerance and reproduction in Syntrichia. At least 2 years of funding are available to the student (Annual stipend of $17,950, tuition remission, and student health coverage) in addition to project costs. 
Research Environment: The School of Forestry is one of the top Forestry Schools in the nation, and a productive research environment, with faculty members specializing in a variety of ecological topics such as landscape ecology, ecological restoration, plant ecophysiology, entomology, hydrology, and soil ecology among other topics.

Preferred Qualifications: Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Biology, Environmental Science or related field, supplemented with research experience (undergraduate thesis, capstone or internship, or employment-related experience). Candidates with greenhouse or field research experience will be strongly favored. Candidates with previous experience in soil ecology and/or bryophyte/biocrust ecology will also be favored. The candidate must satisfy all requirements set by the School of Forestry, and Northern Arizona University.

Admissions requirements (Deadline March 15, 2017):

    GPA of 3.0 or greater on a 4.0 scale in all college and university work
    GRE scores in the top 40th percentile
    If English is not your native language:
    a score of at least 80 on the internet-based TOEFL or
    550 on the paper-based TOEFL or
    213 on the computer-based TOEFL
    Three letters of recommendation

How to apply:  First contact us directly ( to state your research interests, and motivations for attending graduate school, with “moss diversity graduate student inquiry” in the header. Please provide a resume or C.V., and provide your GRE scores (if taken) and GPA. If we agree that you are a good match for the position, we will encourage you to apply to the program.

Useful Links

Dr. Bowker’s web page -

School of Forestry -

SOF M.S. program -


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