Graduate Fellowship in Eastern American Botany, Austin Peay State University

Austin Peay State University Center of Excellence for Field Biology’s
Mt. Cuba Center Graduate Fellowship in Eastern American Botany

Austin Peay State University’s Center of Excellence for Field Biology is pleased to offer a Graduate Research Assistantship to support a masters-level graduate student for two years to work in tandem with a second student (position already filled) on a taxonomic study of Clematis subgenus Viorna of eastern North America. This assistantship is made possible by funding from Delaware’s Mt. Cuba Center. 

Mt. Cuba Center, a premier native plant garden, is dedicated to supporting the environment through the practice and promotion of ecological horticulture.  Mt. Cuba Center’s gardens and programs inspire an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and commitment to protect the habitats that sustain them. 

The assistantship provides an $18,000 per year annual stipend, full tuition waiver, travel funding and vehicle usage for research, funding to present at regional and national conferences, and a modest per diem and lodging stipend for fieldwork. It will also provide for a two-weeks stay at Mt. Cuba Center to work with botanical garden staff. 

The chosen applicant will conduct a taxonomic study of the genus Clematis reticulata species complex of Clematis subgenus Viorna (leatherflowers). The leatherflowers are a group of approximately 25 species of vines found throughout eastern temperate U.S. The successful candidate will be required to collect specimens from numerous states throughout the southeastern U.S. from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida and South Carolina. The candidate will be expected to: prepare high-quality herbarium specimens, collect seeds or transplants for living collections, assemble a set of high-quality photographs for each species, collect flowers to preserve in liquid preservative, and collect leaf tissue for molecular studies. Also, students will be required to maintain living collections in the botanical garden and greenhouse at Austin Peay State University, which will require regular tending until they can be transported later to Mt. Cuba Center where they will form the world’s premier collection of the American leatherflowers.

This position requires 30-40 hours of work per week during summers and 20 hours per week during the spring and fall semesters. Work duties will consist of a mix of duties in the field, herbarium, greenhouse, botanical garden, and lab. The successful candidate will be expected to present their results at regional/national meetings and to submit her/his results for publication at the conclusion of the project.
Minimum Requirements:
• Must be able to start the position between January1-15, 2018 in time for the spring semester at Austin Peay State University which begins January 16, 2018
• Must have a B.S. degree in botany, plant biology, ecology & evolutionary biology or related degree
• Undergraduate GPA ≥3.0 is strongly preferred, with strong record of success in science classes
• GRE scores and all other requirements must meet APSU Dept. of Biology minimum standards
• Ideal candidate should have prior experience with plant identification, use of technical dichotomous keys, and general familiarity with plant communities of the eastern U.S.
• Must have had at least one college course devoted to field botany or taxonomy (course titles may vary but may include local flora, field botany, plant taxonomy, plant systematics) 
• Must be able to participate in extended fieldtrips during spring and summer of 2018 for up to 2 weeks at a time
• Must be able to handle solitary fieldwork, fieldwork with others for extended periods far away from home, rigorous field conditions (heat, rain, rugged hiking, ticks)
Please submit the following (via email):
• a 1-page cover letter
• a 2-3 page essay addressing the question: Why is botanical exploration and plant
taxonomic research still needed in the heavily botanized eastern U.S.?
• a current curriculum vitae
• three letters of recommendation, both references should address why they consider the candidate to be highly qualified for this research assistantship in plant taxonomy (these must be emailed by your letter writers directly to Dr. Estes ( and must cc Mrs. Jean Langley ( 

All applicants should also be aware that formal applications need to be submitted to APSU’s graduate program in order to be admitted to the University and to the Dept. of Biology. Please go to and follow all directions to apply. These materials should be submitted by December 15, 2017. 

Additional information may be obtained by contacting Dr. Estes at Final proposals to Dr. Estes must be received by December 1, 2017.