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PhD Assistantship – Forest and Fire Ecology

The University of Montana Wilderness Institute seeks to fill a PhD assistantship to work on a funded project entitled, “Ecosystem Response to Fire in the Wilderness.” This project will measure vegetation and fuels data across sites that burned in the last 40 years in order to assess the potential for fire-caused changes to forest structure and function, including the possibility of conversions to non-forest. This project is a collaboration with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (ALWRI). The position will be supervised by Dr. Andrew Larson.


The PhD student will: conduct field and remote-sensing based investigations of fire effects in wilderness areas, including publication of results in peer-reviewed journals; work collaboratively with UM faculty, staff, and students, ALWRI researchers, and wilderness managers; and support undergraduate education at UM through occasional service as a teaching assistant, field trip leader, or field course assistant. Six semesters of support are available, with annual renewal based on satisfactory performance.


Two PhD degree options are available: Forest and Conservation Sciences or Systems Ecology.


Required qualifications

  • All of the requirements for admission to the relevant UM PhD degree program, and
  • Ability to implement modern applied statistical analyses in R
  • Experience acquiring and managing large datasets, including metadata documentation
  • Experience with field sampling, including logistics and off-trail navigation
  • Experience with GIS and geospatial software, data, and analytical methods
  • Ability to work independently and to manage multiple responsibilities and deadlines
  • Excellent communication and time management skills
  • Current Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications or the willingness to obtain them

Preferred Qualifications

  • Current Wilderness First Responder certification
  • A research-based MS degree in forestry, ecology, natural resources or a related field
  • Experience as a college-level teaching assistant in ecological, biological, or environmental sciences or natural resources management

To apply, send a single pdf file containing your cover letter, current CV, unofficial transcripts, and names and contacts of three professional references to Dr. Andrew Larson at a.larson@umontana.edu.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning December 13, 2019. 


About UM and Missoula. The University of Montana is a place where top-tier students, educators and researchers from across the country and around the globe come and thrive. UM is located in Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city with a population of 80,000 residents. Missoula offers a high quality of life, with excellent public schools, and multiple rivers, trails, Wilderness areas, and other outdoor recreation amenities within minutes of campus. Missoula supports a vibrant arts community and attracts national musical acts.

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