PhD Position: Forest Health and Restoration Ecology, Michigan State University

A Ph.D. graduate student position is available in the Applied Forest Ecology lab of Dr. Steve Chhin in the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University (MSU).

Background: The sustainability of forest resources in the 21st century will likely be threatened by climate change and induced changes in disturbance regimes. Forest management practices may have the potential to promote resiliency to forest disturbances (e.g., insects, fungal pathogens, fire, climate change). The primary goals of the Chhin lab include promoting forest health to limit forest dieback due to climatic stress, insect outbreaks and fungal pathogens; and restoration of forest historical structure and species composition to reduce fire disturbance risk.

The Chhin lab is seeking a Ph.D. graduate student who will help complete field and laboratory work in either forest health or forest restoration projects conducted in either Michigan or northern California.  In forest health projects, the general objective is to determine the mechanistic relationships between potential underlying drivers of forest decline including insects, fungal pathogens, and climatic stress.  The general objective of forest restoration projects is to determine the effective intensity of mechanical thinning treatments and prescribed fire to remove shade tolerant competitors and thereby reduce fire risk.

Qualifications: Applicants for the PhD position should preferably have completed a MS.  A completed degree in forestry, biology, ecology, environmental sciences, or a similarly related natural resource field is acceptable.  Preference will be given to applicants that are highly self-motivated, possess a strong work ethic, and have strong oral and written communication skills.  A background or strong interest in conducting field based research and working in a laboratory environment is desirable.  Applicants must enjoy working (e.g., rigorous fieldwork) and living outdoors (e.g., camping) and possess a valid driver’s license.  A cumulative GPA greater than 3.0 in undergraduate and graduate coursework is preferred.  Short-listed candidates eventually will be asked to submit a writing sample. 

The start date for this position is May 2015 (preferred date) or August 2015.  This position includes a tuition waiver and health benefits, and a competitive stipend (currently ~ $24,500).

To Apply: Please submit: 1) cover letter, 2) curriculum vitae, 3) unofficial transcripts, 4) GRE scores, 5) contact information of three references, and 6) TOEFL scores (for international applicants) to Dr. Steve Chhin ( You must also apply to the MSU Graduate School.

Deadline: Applications will be considered immediately and continue until the position is filled.  To ensure full consideration for departmental and university fellowships, please e-mail your application material to Dr. Steve Chhin ( and also apply to the MSU Graduate School by  December 1, 2014.  Applications for this position will still be accepted until January 31, 2015.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Steve Chhin
Assistant Professor, Applied Forest Ecology
Department of Forestry
Michigan State University
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson Road, Room 126
East Lansing, MI  48824
Tel: (517) 353-7251
Fax: (517) 432-1143

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