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Range Science


Graduate Research Assistantship: Grassland diversity and disturbance ecology



We are offering a Graduate Research Assistantship at the PhD level to study aboveground and belowground responses to disturbance in experimental grassland. The project will focus on two sets of plots – in eastern and western North Dakota – originally established with varying species richness and crossed with fertilizer and clipping treatments. We seek to introduce a prescribed fire treatment and the student will be responsible for measuring aboveground and belowground responses to fire. Potential measurements include stand- and species-level productivity, post-fire physiology, and fine root dynamics via mini-rhizotron (scanning tubes already established), but the specifics of the study can be tailored to the student’s background and interests. The study also includes the opportunity to compare these long-term datasets to similar trials abroad.

We seek a PhD student with a background in grassland community ecology, rangeland science, plant biology, or fire ecology/fire effects on plant physiology. The student will be responsible for fieldwork, lab-based analysis, and data analysis. Experience with prescribed fire is an asset and experience with mini-rhizotron operation and/or data analysis is especially valued. Students with experience in GIS software who have an interest in adapting these skills to mini-rhizotron data analysis are welcome.

The student will be advised by Dr. Devan McGranahan in the Range Science Program at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. The student will pursue their degree in the Range Science Program in the NDSU School of Natural Resource Sciences.



The student will be expected to demonstrate or develop proficiency in field sampling and analytical techniques. Successful applicants will have a strong academic background, show evidence of independent work in the field and/or lab, and demonstrate a capacity to contribute to a collaborative research environment.


Minimum qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field of biological or environmental science. 
  • Strong communication skills as evidenced by publications and public presentations.
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Ability to conduct field work.
  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Authorization to study and work in the United States.

 Preferred qualifications:

    • Research-based master’s degree in relevant field of biological or environmental science.
    • Experience with statistical computing and geographical information systems.
    • Knowledge and experience in sampling grassland communities.
    • Prescribed fire experience.
    • Experience with mini-rhizotron operation and/or data analysis.

      Start date:

      Flexible, but January 2015 preferred.


       Minimum annual GRA stipend of $16,000 + full tuition waiver.

      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: Monday, October 13, 2014 2:46:07 PM
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