Funded MS Position in Biological Oceanography at URI

The McMahon Ocean Ecogeochemistry Lab ( at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography is looking for a highly motivated graduate student (MS) for a funded research position. This project will develop novel molecular geochemistry tracers to understand phytoplankton community dynamics. The student will work 1) design and implement a series of phytoplankton culture experiments in the Marine Science Research Facility ( at URI, and 2) analyze and interpret cutting-edge compound-specific stable isotope data to develop a new library of amino acid isotope fingerprints for coastally-relevant eukaryotic phytoplankton that can be used to examine the sources and cycling of organic matter in marine ecosystems. This work is funded through the multi-institution Rhode Island Consortium For Coastal Ecology Assessment Innovation & Modeling ( RI C-AIM was established through an NSF EPSCoR grant to assess, predict, and respond to the effects of climate variability on Narragansett Bay. Additional collaborative research opportunities exist in our lab within this NSF-funded project.
The MS student will be involved in all aspects of the culturing laboratory work, the molecular geochemistry work, and the data synthesis and interpretation for the project duration. The student will gain expertise in conducting controlled laboratory culturing experiments as well as in analyzing and interpreting compound-specific stable isotope data. The student will take lead, under the supervision of Dr. McMahon, in writing publications and presenting findings at national conferences. The student will also have the opportunity to work with Dr. Breea Govenar at RIC ( to facilitate data interpretation. As part of this lab exchange, the MS student will have the opportunity to serve as a mentor for an undergraduate research assistant from RIC.     
The position starts this fall in September 2018.  The position is based at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography ( The position will be supported by research and potentially teaching assistantships that cover a stipend, tuition, and health benefits.

Desired qualifications:
– BS in biology, ecology, marine/environmental sciences or a related field
– Strong background in biology and chemistry, Ideally GPA >3.5
– Excellent time management, interpersonal, and team/collaborative skills
– Demonstrated skills in a laboratory setting (e.g., excellent note taking, ability to work independently, attention to detail)
– Ability to use, or willingness to learn, advanced statistical methods and packages (e.g., R)

The review of initial applications will start on June 11 and continue until a suitable candidate is identified.
To apply, send (1) a short cover letter summarizing your interests, educational goals, and qualifications, (2) a CV, including GPA and relevant research experience, (3) transcripts (unofficial OK at this stage), and (4) contacts for two references to Dr. Kelton McMahon ( as a single PDF file. Please use “Phytoplankton Research Assistantship” in the email subject line. Selected candidates will be asked to submit a full application (with official transcripts, reference letters, and GRE reports) to GSO-URI ( as soon as possible.

Info on the McMahon Ocean Ecogeochemistry Lab can be found here:
Info on the MS program at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography can be found here:
Info on student life at the University of Rhode Island can be found here: