Join the lab!

PhD students

atlantic_lowWe are currently recruiting for a PhD student in the lab. We are an inter-disciplinary lab, studying the interactions between community ecology and evolutionary biology using cutting-edge statistical techniques. We are looking for a student with experience in plant community ecology or evolutionary biology, who is interested in a PhD that combines both fieldwork and modelling. The position is fully-funded, and includes money to travel to conferences and working groups.

What we do. Our research has focused on biodiversity modelling: how have species evolved, and what implications does that have for species’ ecology? The student will, therefore, have the opportunity to develop tools and statistical models to explore classic datasets in new ways.

Fieldwork. We have established long-term monitoring plots to study changes in plant community composition across elevational gradients. You will have the opportunity to collect, and publish, your own data using these sites. This fieldwork will involve community composition and phenology surveys, functional trait measurements, and (eventually) aerial surveys with drones. You will determine the ecological structure of this system and how it may change in the future, and collaborate to link this with species’ evolutionary history.

Modelling. Ecologists are increasingly using species’ evolutionary history to better understand how ecosystems are structured. Typically, this means that species’ phylogeny is used as a proxy for unmeasured aspects of species’ traits. We will help you go beyond that, linking differences in the evolution of species’ traits to how those traits govern ecological processes. This will involve using existing datasets and collaboratively applying your techniques to the lab’s long-term plots.

Location. The lab is located at Utah State university (USA). Surrounded by beautiful national parks and rivers on all sides, it’s the perfect place to study biology (and go hiking, skiing, climbing, swimming…)! If the outdoors isn’t enough for you, the bright lights of Salt Lake City (host of the 2002 Winter Olympics) is right on your doorstep.

How to apply. If you’re interested in applying, send Will Pearse ( a brief email with your CV, research interests, and addresses for at least two references. If you have taken the GRE please list your scores, but if you have not taken it that is no problem. The position is first-come, first-served; we have limited places available for the (fully funded) visiting weekend, so apply now! We welcome applications from anyone from any background: regardless of ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, sexuality, or any form of impairment, you will be welcome in the lab.