Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant Genomics-Boise State University

Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant Genomics - Genetics to Predict Resistance of Plants to Vertebrate Herbivores

Ph.D. Assistantship- Plant Genomics, Boise State University, Idaho, USA
GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIP (Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) - at Boise State University. A position is available for a Ph.D. student to use genetics to predict resistance of plants to vertebrate herbivores in arid and arctic ecosystems. Previous studies have shown that plants become more resistant to herbivores after detection of volatile cues from damaged neighbors. These studies suggest that plants communicate via the production of volatiles, but very little is known about the genomic processes triggering this process. The student will participate in: 1) field work that involves collection of plant samples across Idaho, Nevada, Iceland, and/or Norway, 2) assembly and annotation of a draft genome using whole-genome sequencing and RNA sequencing, and 3) use of the draft genome to investigate the cascade of gene expressions that influence the production of secondary metabolites that deter mammalian and avian herbivores. This goal will be achieved by leveraging existing common garden experiments and natural field sites where RNA sequencing will be used to look at gene expression patterns associated with manipulated or natural gradients of damage by vertebrate herbivores. The Ph.D. student will be supervised by Sven Buerki (Boise State University, BSU, genomics and bioinformatics) in collaboration with Jennifer Forbey (BSU, chemical ecology) and Trevor Caughlin (BSU, spatial ecology and modeling). The student will also interact with our national and international network of collaborators that includes, but is not limited to, the Bureau of Land Management, US Geological Survey, US Forest Service, University of Nevada Reno, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the University of Tromsø and the Natural History Museum in Geneva. The student will conduct fieldwork, generate molecular data, conduct greenhouse experiments and analyze data using bioinformatic methods. We expect the student to lead the writing of several scientific papers. 

We are seeking someone who has a strong interest in genomics, phytochemistry, ecology, and bioinformatics. Competitive students will have a Master’s degree. Please address your qualifications for each of these points in your cover letter. The position starts fall (Aug) 2018.

Stipend and tuition and fees
This position includes support in the form of a graduate assistantship (renewable, 12-month at $25,000), tuition and fee waiver, and health insurance.

About the program and Boise
The Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior PhD is a new and modern graduate program at Boise State University. This program brings together faculty from across multiple academic departments, including biological sciences, geosciences, anthropology, and the human-environment systems group to offer relevant courses and provide unique mentorship and training opportunities. Further, we have created a network of valuable connections in academia, local relationships with federal and state agencies, nonprofits and NGOs, as well as partnerships with international organizations, all dedicated to providing students with transformative research and educational experiences for diverse career opportunities. To learn more, please visit:

Students in this program enjoy living in the beautiful city of Boise, which strikes a perfect balance with close-by outdoor recreational activities as well as a vibrant downtown life. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the capital of the State of Idaho, Boise is frequently featured as a top-ranked metropolis. The city has ample opportunities for world-class outdoor activities year-round and a thriving arts and entertainment culture. In 2017, US News and World report ranked Boise the 12th best city to live in the United States.

To Apply
Please send via email in a single file attachment (include your last name in the file name): a cover letter that states qualifications and career goals, a CV with the names and contacts for 3 references, copies of transcripts (unofficial are acceptable) and GRE scores and percentiles (not combined) to Sven Buerki (email: Please put “PhD application” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed as they are received until January 12th. If you do not have GRE scores by the deadline your application cannot be considered. Top candidates will be asked to formally apply to Boise State’s EEB program by January 20th. All admission decisions must be approved by the Graduate Dean.
Boise State University embraces and welcomes diversity in its faculty, student body, and staff. Accordingly, applicants who would add to the diversity and excellence of our academic community are encouraged to apply.