Graduate Position: Fire Ecology of Hardwood Forests, Purdue University

Mike R. Saunders, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR), Purdue University is seeking  M.S. and/or Ph.D. students for a long-term research project investigating the influence of both prescribed fire and gap-based harvesting to increase ecological resilience in Central Hardwood forests. This work, funded by the Department of Defense, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service, will take advantage of >15 prescribed burns being conducted over the next two years on the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment sites and new study sites at NSWC – Crane, both in southern Indiana.

Requirements: Positions will be responsible for sampling vegetation and fuel before and after burns, deployment and collection of fire monitoring equipment, entering and proofing inventory data into a geodatabase, producing quarterly reports on activities (1-2 pages), and contributing to annual project reports. Thesis/dissertation projects can build upon these activities or investigate related topics, including:
1) adaptations of underplanted oak and other hardwood seedlings and saplings to prescribed fire;
2) refinement of fire models to conditions in mesic Central Hardwood forests;
3) long-term impacts of fire intensity on resultant timber quality in shelterwood regeneration systems;
4) effects of prescribed fire on masting behavior of oak and other hard mast trees; or
5) impacts of fire on habitat structure and use by terrestrial vertebrates.

All candidates must be U.S. citizens due to security restrictions at NSWC – Crane.  Work will be on remote field sites and in harsh environments typical of southern Indiana.  To meet FNR departmental requirements, candidates must have a B.S. or M.S. degree in forestry, wildlife or a closely related field, a minimum GPA of 3.2 and GRE scores above the 50th percentile on verbal and quantitative sections and above 4.0 on the analytical writing section.  Departmental assistantships are awarded at $18,329 (M.S.) and $21,020 (Ph.D.) per year, and include a subsidized insurance plan. Higher caliber candidates with a GPA of at least 3.4 and GRE scores averaging above the 60th percentile should consider applying for the prestigious Fred M. van Eck Graduate Scholarship within the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center at Purdue.  In addition to insurance, awardees receive a higher stipend (award currently being finalized), a laptop computer upon arrival and an annual research budget ($10,000) for either two (M.S.) or three (Ph.D.) years.

Deadline: Application deadlines for Fall 2015 admittance is January 15, 2015; candidates interested in the van Eck Graduate Scholarship need to apply by November 15, 2014.  More information on our graduate program can be found here.

Please contact Dr. Saunders prior to submitting materials. He can be reached at and will be attending the IUFRO World Forestry Congress/SAF meeting in Salt Lake City the week of Oct. 6th and would be happy to meet in person to discuss the positions.

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