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Range Science


Graduate Research Assistantship: Terrestrial Laser Scanning applications in grassland fire ecology



We are offering a Graduate Research Assistantship to apply terrestrial laser scanning (TLS, or ground-based lidar) in the study of grassland fuel composition and structure. The student will be co-advised by Drs. Devan McGranahan and Stephanie Day, in the Range Science and Geosciences departments, respectively, at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. The student will pursue a degree in the Range Science Program in the NDSU School of Natural Resource Sciences. The student can enter at either Master of Science or PhD levels based on qualifications and academic background.

 The student will conduct field experiments to develop TLS technology to determine grassland biomass and structure, data that will inform spatially-explicit fuel and fire behavior models. Field work will consist of developing and conducting TLS sampling schemes, performing conventional field sampling techniques for calibration, and applying the developed TLS method to conduct ecological research on grassland fuelbeds in the region.


The student will be expected to develop proficiency in working with TLS equipment and programming post-processing software; therefore, successful candidates for this position will demonstrate experience in computer programming, preferably in the R and/or MATLAB environments. Experience with geographical information systems is preferred. Previous experience with TLS or lidar technology is beneficial but not required.

Minimum qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field of biological, environmental, and/or computer sciences.
  • Proficiency with computers and computer programming.
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Ability to conduct field work.
  • Interest in developing and applying technological solutions for ecological research.
  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Authorization to study and work in the United States.

 Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience with statistical computing and geographical information systems.
  • Experience with TLS or lidar technology and/or data processing.
  • Knowledge of sampling and modeling grassland fuels and fire behavior.

Start date:

Flexible, but August 2014 preferred.


Annual GRA stipend of $14,000 – 16,000 depending on level of academic study. Full tuition waiver for both MS and PhD students.

Application process:

Interested applicants should submit the following preliminary materials by email to Cover letter/statement of intent, CV or resume including e-mail and telephone information for 2-3 references, unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary schooling, and GRE scores. Selected applicants will be invited to interview via phone and prepare official application materials for the University.

About graduate research at NDSU:

North Dakota State University is a leading research university in the region. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education ranks NDSU in its top Doctoral Research University "Very High Research Activity" category. Not only is NDSU in the top quarter of U.S. universities in research expenditures, it is one of the top 108 universities in the country. Located in the Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN metropolitan area, NDSU has enjoyed vigorous growth and has an enrollment of about 14,400 students, with approximately 2,200 graduate students.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Range Science Program
School of Natural Resources Science
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7582 - Fax: (701) 231-8557
Campus address: Hultz Hall 202
Mailing address: Dept 7650 PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Diane Pennington

Last Updated: Friday, September 05, 2014 1:23:19 PM