Employment Opportunities

We have funding for at least two graduate students at Penn State!

Multiple M.S./Ph.D. Assistantships in Ecology and Geography at Penn State

At least two graduate student positions at The Pennsylvania State University are available to analyze how climate change and forest management activities affect biodiversity and carbon storage in forests of the Menominee Nation (Wisconsin, USA).  The project is part of a large, interdisciplinary research project funded by the Coupled-Natural Human (CNH) systems program at NSF, with substantial opportunities for engagement with topics related to climate change, ecological simulation, immersive virtual ecology, decision support and robust decision making under uncertainty, and human use of the natural environment (see https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/visualizing-forest-futures/ for more details about the project).

One student will conduct research using a state-of-the-art ecological model (LANDIS-II) and receive training on all aspects of model development and application, including model parameterization and spatial analysis, to understand the forest sustainability under alternative climate and management scenarios.  A second student will receive training on the use of indigenous knowledges and livelihoods and investigate through archival interviews how human values and practices surrounding forest use differ among stakeholders in the region, with implications for understanding complex tradeoffs in forest stewardship.  We also seek students with interest and expertise in immersive virtual ecology who would work with modeling and social science teams to develop iVR tools to represent forest change.

Research assistantships through the academic year will be available through the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology or the Department of Geography and the recently funded research grant, with possibility of teaching assistantships for Ph.D. students through the length of their academic program.  Summer support is also available.  Application for the Ecology graduate program can be found here:


In addition to meeting the admission requirements to the Ecology Program http://www.huck.psu.edu/content/graduate-programs/ecology/admission, successful applicants should have (1) a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field of study; (2) strong interest in ecosystem ecology, climate change, and/or indigenous livelihoods; (3) a willingness to learn new techniques and skills while interacting with large interdisciplinary and intercultural groups; and (4) strong writing and communication skills.  Experience with large spatial data sets, archival interview data, or simulation modeling is desired. 

Penn State’s Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology provides students with a strong understanding of ecological theory and hypothesis testing and is committed to research that emphasizes the role of humans in ecosystems.  Student-led colloquium series and social events provide a strong basis for student-student and student-faculty interaction.  Penn State is located in Happy Valley, with many opportunities for recreational activities and a strong commitment to cultural events and activities.  State College was ranked 8/50 best college towns in 2016:  http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/50-best-college-towns-america/   Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.


To learn more, please contact:

Dr. Erica Smithwick, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University