Seeking a PhD student – QTL for drought tolerance in chile pepper

From: Mercer, Kristin [mailto:mercer.97@OSU.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:00 AM
Subject: Seeking a PhD student – QTL for drought tolerance in chile pepper
Graduate Assistantship
Mercer and McHale Laboratories at Ohio State University
QTL for drought tolerance in chile pepper from Mexico and the US
Application deadline:
December 13 for domestic students and Nov 30 for international students
We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student interested in studying the adaptive genetic variation found in improved and landrace varieties of crops, as well as their wild relatives, collected from centers of origin. The successful candidate will be part of a USDA funded project and co-advised by Drs. Kristin Mercer and Leah McHale at Ohio State University in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science ( in Columbus, Ohio.  Briefly, Dr. Mercer studies plant evolutionary ecology within agricultural systems, including adaptation in and evolution of crop diversity in centers of origin.  Dr. Leah McHale studies breeding and genetics, including the identification and characterization of beneficial alleles for food quality and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses.  You can look at our various research projects on our lab websites here ( and here (
In this Mexico-US collaborative project on chile pepper (Capsicum), we aim to relate phenotypic, molecular, and climatic variation to understand how patterns of genetic variation have been shaped by the environment.  The successful candidate’s project will use QTL analysis to highlight regions of the genome controlling environmental adaptation using greenhouse and laboratory experiments.  Such analysis will enhance our understanding of mechanisms of adaptation to abiotic stress, especially drought. Students with an interest in international collaboration are especially encouraged to apply and a facility with Spanish is a plus, but not required.
Outside of our labs, there are many collaborators at OSU that can contribute to your graduate training.  The Department of Horticulture and Crop Science has other faculty with interests in the ecology and evolution (or adaptation) of agricultural plants, as well as faculty with a molecular focus who investigate the genetic basis for ecologically and agronomically relevant traits.  Similarly, there are collaborating faculty in other departments at OSU, including Plant Pathology, Entomology, Molecular Genetics, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, and Geography, who can enhance your experience.  Interdisciplinary programs, such as the Center for Applied Plant Science (CAPS) and the Agroecosystem Management Program (AMP), exist to further broaden opportunities.  Strong collaborators with scientists at institutions in Mexico and Hawaii extend our network to the south and west. 
Applicants will apply for the PhD program and should have a MS in a related field or strong prior research experience (undergraduate thesis, technician position, etc.).  There are fellowship opportunities through the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences and Graduate School, so high quality applications will be forwarded accordingly.  We encourage students to consider concurrently applying to external fellowship funding sources.
Please contact us directly if you are interested in the position.  Please include a description of your interests, as well as an updated CV with GPA, GRE, and TOEFL scores, as relevant.  GRE scores should be expressed as a percentage.  Kristin Mercer,, 614-247-6394.  Leah McHale,, 614-292-9003.
Further information can be found on the Future Graduate Students page for Horticulture and Crop Science (  For specifics on applying to OSU, please visit the Graduate School website ( and  Regina Vann (, Graduate Studies Coordinator, can also be of assistance.
Kristin Mercer, Associate Professor
Ohio State University
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
202 Kottman Hall
2021 Coffey Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43210