Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

MS and PhD student positions at VIMS in algal evolutionary ecology 

The Krueger-Hadfield Lab at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is recruiting a MS and PhD student for Fall 2024. The lab focuses on algae as model systems to resolve one of the great paradoxes in biology – the evolution of sex  in which we integrate approaches from population genetics, physiology, and population and community ecology in marine, freshwater, and alpine micro- and macroalgae. The central thread of our research has direct implications for understanding the evolution of biodiversity, transcending taxonomic designations.   
The MS student will focus on on-going work developing protocols for snow and ice algal population genetics. The majority of eukaryotes are unicellular and alternate between sexual and asexual reproduction (i.e., partial clonality). Yet, our understanding of their evolution is limited due to inherent challenges of studying these taxa using tools and predictions that were developed in multicellular (and often obligately sexual) taxa. These tools are often not tractable in microbial eukaryotes where generation times are short, population sizes can be large, and extracting DNA from unique individuals is difficult. This project continues work that was funded by the National Science Foundation and the student will have opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in the US and in Europe working on snow and ice algae. 
The PhD student will be involved with research funded by an NSF CAREER award (DEB-2141971). Marine macroalgae are emerging commodities in the blue bioeconomy. Yet, we lack basic biological knowledge that is often readily available for other organisms of ecological or economic importance. This is compounded by the absence of macroalgal expertise in the mid-Atlantic regions and a lack of understanding of macroalgal ecology in soft sediment habitats as compared to rocky shores an acute issue in the Chesapeake where the last macroalgal species list was published more than 40 years ago. These gaps restrict the responsible development and management of algal resources for ecosystem productivity, climate mitigation, and aquaculture, but also exacerbate our ability to forecast the consequences of climate change in important primary producers in this region. Possible projects include population genetic analyses focused on the reproductive system, phenotypic investigations of haploid and diploid phases of the red algal life cycle, and community science engagement along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 
Students will be encouraged to develop projects that complement the existing research foci of the lab.  
Find out more information about VIMS at https://www.vims.edu/education/graduate/admissions/index.php.   
Interested applicants need to contact Dr. Krueger-Hadfield at sakh@vims.edu with the following information by 1 December 2023:  
 -  CV (include GPA and relevant coursework from undergraduate and graduate studies as appropriate)  
 -  Short statement about research interests and how they complement existing expertise in the lab