PhD position – Functional Trait Diversity/Aquatic Ecology

Subject: PhD position – Functional Trait Diversity/Aquatic Ecology

A PhD Position in Functional Trait Diversity of Southeastern Freshwater Mussels is available in Carla Atkinson’s lab ( at the University of Alabama as part of a recently funded NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity project ( We are looking to recruit a highly motivated PhD student to examine the functional traits of a diverse group of animals, the unionid mussels, in several streams in the Mobile and Tennessee River basins, the diversity hotspot for freshwater mussels and several other freshwater taxa. The project will involve using ecological stoichiometry and other organismal traits to examine trait diversity within and across communities in the focal watersheds with the goal of understanding how functional diversity patterns relate to overall habitat diversity and population-level and species-level diversity. The student is also anticipated to formulate their own research questions related to the project that could span topics such as trophic ecology, distribution modeling, nutrient uptake and transformations, and ecosystem metabolism within this broader project objective.

Applicants must have a strong academic record (GPA > 3.0), strong written and verbal communication skills, possess prior experience working in streams, a desire to build strong quantitative skills, SCUBA certified (or willingness to get certified), and an interest in working as part of a large collaborative team. In addition, preference will be given to applicants with prior experience conducting water chemistry analyses, familiarity with R, using ArcGIS software, and with a demonstrated publication record. The student will work closely with a postdoc in Atkinson’s lab and another PhD student being recruited by Jeff Lozier’s lab ( in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at UA and with collaborators at the University of Mississippi, so an interest in working as part of a collaborative team is a must.

Interested applicants should send a (1) cover letter describing research experience and goals, (2) curriculum vitae, (3) unofficial transcripts and GRE scores, (4) a writing example, and (5) contact information of 2-3 individuals familiar with research/academic performance to Carla Atkinson ( Start date is negotiable for Spring or Summer 2019 semesters. Review of materials will start immediately.

Carla Atkinson
Assistant Professor
Biological Sciences
The University of Alabama
Office 205-348-6805 |