MS position – Evaluating climate change effects

The Palmquist Lab at Marshall University is recruiting for a funded MS position focused on evaluating climate change effects on dryland plant communities. Our research focuses on quantifying vegetation dynamics over space and time and identifying how the relative importance of ecological processes structuring plant communities changes with spatial and temporal scale. In addition, a key goal of our research is to understand how pattern and process in plant communities will be altered in the face of global environmental change. An important motivation for our work is to address ecological questions at large spatial scales to inform landscape conservation. We collect field data, use existing large observational data sets, and implement simulation modeling to address these goals in temperate shrublands, wetlands, woodlands, and forests. Additional information about the lab can be found at

RESEARCH FOCUS: The successful candidate will broadly explore the interacting effects of climate change, wildfire, and livestock grazing intensity on big sagebrush plant communities throughout their spatial extent in the western US. These water-limited ecosystems are undergoing rapid environmental change due to multiple stressors (climate change, increases in wildfire activity, species invasions) and represent some of the most threatened systems in North America. This project will use an individual-based plant simulation model to quantify the impacts of climate change and livestock grazing management on plant community composition and the balance between native and non-native species. In particular, we are interested in assessing how livestock grazing can be used as a tool to prevent the spread of invasive species and decrease wildfire risk under a future climate. This is a collaborative project between ecologists at Marshall University, the US Geological Survey, Yale University, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: A background, including relevant course work, in ecology and statistics, knowledge of the ecosystems of the western U.S., strong communication skills, and strong quantitative skills. Experience in ecological modeling and computer programming is highly desirable.

EXPECTATIONS: The successful candidate will be expected to conduct high-quality research, serve as a teaching assistant within the Department of Biological Sciences, present their research to the scientific community at regional and national meetings, and publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

TIMELINE: The position is available in August 2024.

FUNDING: Funding will consist of a combination of research and teaching assistantships for two years. A 12-month competitive stipend ($19,000), and full tuition waiver will be provided.

HOW TO APPLY: Interested students should apply by submitting the following to Dr. Kyle Palmquist ( 1) short statement of research interests and career goals (no longer than 1 page), 2) CV, 3) unofficial transcripts, 4) GRE scores (if available), and 5) contact information for three professional references. Please include: “evaluating climate change effects on dryland plant communities” and your name in the email subject.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a candidate is selected. I will contact you to discuss your research interests and goals for graduate school to determine if you would be a good fit for the lab. If selected, a full application must be submitted to the Department of Biological Sciences at Marshall University, Huntington, WV. Faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences have expertise in a variety of biological fields, including but not limited to ecology, evolution, herpetology, and physiology. More information about the Department and its programs can be found here:

Application requirements for admission to the DBS graduate program can be found here:

Marshall University is located in Huntington, an affordable college town located on the Ohio River in the beautiful state of West Virginia. The town is small enough to get around on foot and bike, but large enough to support a variety of restaurants and other cultural activities. Huntington and the surrounding area offer ample recreational opportunities (hiking, skiing, rafting), along with proximity to larger cities, including Louisville, KY, Cincinnati, OH, and Columbus, OH. In the Palmquist Lab, we highly value and encourage work-life balance.

I strongly encourage students from diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. Feel free to contact me with questions at any time.