MS opportunity: forest structure and tree physiology

Research Assistantship for MS student at Clemson University, through the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science (BICEFS), Georgetown, SC:

We are seeking a Master of Science student to conduct research related to forest ecology within the upper Savannah River estuary. Forest structure will be compared along a gradient of salt-impacted, fresh tidal, seasonally tidal, and non-tidal forested wetlands. A similar tidal forest complex exists near Georgetown, SC; this system will also be measured and included in the comparison. There will be also a tree physiology component to the program, using thermal dissipation probes to measure differences in within-tree rates of sap flow as related to azimuth of aspect. Likely target species would include baldcypress, tupelos, ash, and elm.

The student will be expected to develop a thesis proposal, collect field data, analyze data and interpret results, and defend their thesis to a committee. Coursework taken on the main Clemson campus is also inherent to the degree program, but the student will likely be stationed more at BICEFS in Georgetown, SC. Most operations are based out of Georgetown, and the Institute is located on Hobcaw Barony, which provides multiple natural wetlands to answer some questions, without long-term field excursions. Reasonably priced housing is available in the Georgetown area, and will be paid for by the student. As previously mentioned, time will be spent on campus to fulfill course requirements; here, again, housing will need to be arranged by the student. To fulfill the Research Assistantship obligations, the student will help as needed for lab mates and BICEFS technicians. Proficiency in the use of common computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel is expected, and a valid U.S. driver’s license is required. Because field duties will require extensive use of small (16 foot) outboard motorboats, the ability to swim is also required. Applicants should have a BS degree in natural resources or a related field from an accredited university and have completed the GRE by December 2018.

Fieldwork associated with the Research Assistantship is a very energy intensive endeavor, requiring a high level of physical fitness; this should not be underestimated or taken lightly. Conditions in the field are very hot and humid in summer months when the 2 “big samples” of marsh vegetation are collected, part of the required monitoring effort of our lab. Vegetation sampling involves traversing floatant and solid ground marshes on foot for extensive distances while carrying several 13 gallon garbage bags of marsh plants. Proper training will be provided for safe motorboat operation, marsh plant identification, and use of appropriate tools (e.g., handheld GPS, statistical techniques), but appropriate physical fitness will be expected at the time of hire.

The Graduate Research Assistantship stipend will be based on $20,000 annual. Two years of tuition and project travel will also be covered, though the student will be required to secure their housing in Clemson while taking courses, and near BICEFS (Georgetown, SC) area while not collecting field data or taking courses. The student should also anticipate the need to pay Clemson University fees imposed each semester and summer, and university parking fees while they are on the main campus.

Interested applicants should send a single pfd file containing a cover letter, CV with 3 professional references listed, and unofficial transcripts to Dr. Jamie Duberstein at