Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

Funded M.S. position, effects of sea-level rise on coastal vegetation, Marshall University 

The Palmquist Lab at Marshall University is recruiting for a funded MS position at Marshall University in coastal vegetation sensitivity to sea-level rise. 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 athttp://www.kylepalmquist.org/

RESEARCH FOCUS: The successful candidate will broadly explore the interacting effects of sea-level rise and increased storm surge on coastal vegetation on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (MCRDPI), a sea-island in South Carolina. Coastal vegetation provides important ecosystem services, including storm protection, erosion control, and habitat for wildlife. These complex, highly zoned plant communities are structured by multiple environmental factors including salinity, elevation, soil texture, soil moisture, exposure, and light availability. Sea-level rise and intensification of the hydrologic cycle (i.e. more frequent and intense storms) is expected to affect the distribution and composition of coastal vegetation in the future, with important implications. The project will integrate remote sensing and plant community sampling to quantify how sea-level rise and associated factors have impacted coastal vegetation on MCRDPI up to present, including but not limited to: (1) changes in salt marsh condition and identification of die-off events, (2) forest mortality due to saltwater intrusion, and (3) the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms on the spatial distribution of vegetation types.  

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: A background, including relevant course work, in botany or plant ecology, and GIS or remote sensing, strong communication skills, and strong quantitative skills. Experience in remote sensing 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 starting January 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 (palmquist@marshall.edu): 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: “coastal vegetation sensitivity to sea-level rise” 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: https://www.marshall.edu/biology/. Application requirements for admission to the DBS graduate program can be found here:https://www.marshall.edu/biology/admission/

Feel free to contact me with questions at any time. 

Kyle Palmquist 

Marshall University 

Huntington, WV 

phone: 304-696-3987 

email: palmquist@marshall.edu 

website: kylepalmquist.org 

twitter: @kyleapalmquist