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Ph.D. or M.S.– Development of a Decision Support Tool for Managing Antebellum Rice Fields

STARTING DATE: January 2024 

CLOSING DATE: The position is open until filled and contingent upon final receipt of funding. 

DESCRIPTION: The James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center, the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, and the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University in partnership with the Nemours Wildlife Foundation, the Gullah Geechee Chamber Foundation, Folk Land Management, and Weyerhaeuser Company is recruiting a highly motivated Ph.D. or M.S. student interested in wetlands, biodiversity, and climate change. Our overarching goal is to develop a rice-field coastal management and restoration decision support tool based on the capacity of historic rice fields to provide fish and wildlife habitat and mitigate adverse environmental changes in coastal South Carolina communities. 

Using socioenvironmental systems modeling, we will address multi-dimensional uncertainty and scaling by combining qualitative and quantitative methods. We will integrate biodiversity and physicochemical data with remotely sensed elevation and vegetation indices to determine how breached and intact impoundments maintain elevation, store water, and sustain wildlife and vegetation communities along the salinity gradient and with sea-level rise. Our specific objectives are to (1) compile, synthesize, and analyze published and unpublished ecological, environmental, socioeconomic, and other data from breached and intact tidal rice fields; (2) assess the methodologies, successes, and failures of restored rice field projects; and (3) generate a risk-benefit matrix profile and decision-support tool that addresses the ecological and societal costs and benefits associated with abandoning these historic rice field impoundments versus maintaining them. Opportunities to assist another student with collecting and analyzing community input from stakeholders, including Gullah Geechee communities, are also possible. These data will be incorporated into objective 3. 

The student will be working toward a graduate degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at Clemson University (Wildlife and Fisheries Biology (MWFR, M.S., Ph.D.) (clemson.edu)). Clemson University (http://www.clemson.edu/about/) is a public land-grant Carnegie R1 Research University in a college town atmosphere on Lake Hartwell within view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Students will take classes on the main campus and conduct fieldwork along South Carolina’s coast near the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, located on the 16,000-acre Hobcaw Barony property, which is dedicated to research and education. Hobcaw Barony is 5 miles north of Georgetown, SC, and 35 miles south of Myrtle Beach, SC. Temporary housing in cottages is available on-site while you conduct research. Clemson University does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, or disability. We encourage applications from minorities, women, veterans, and all other qualified applicants.  

James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center, Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Hwy 17 North – 177 Hobcaw Rd., P.O. Box 596, Georgetown, SC 29442  

QUALIFICATIONS: B.S. (for M.S.) and M.S. (for Ph.D.) in wetlands, wildlife, fisheries, ecology, GIS, or a closely related field. Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25. A strong interest and experience in climate change, ecological modeling, GIS, wetlands, fish, and wildlife ecology are essential. Experience in statistics and publishing is a plus. 

STIPEND: $25,000 (Ph.D.) or $23,000 (M.S.) plus tuition waiver. 

CONTACT: The student will be advised by Dr. James T. (Jim) Anderson and Dr. Troy M. Farmer. The student will work closely with a diverse multidisciplinary team from the organizations and units listed above. Interested individuals should send a letter of interest, resume, a <1,000-word statement of purpose (why do you want to work on this project, your research interests, and long-term career goals), unofficial copy of transcripts, GRE/TOEFL scores (if available), examples of published papers, and contact information for 3 references to Dr. Farmer (tmfarme@clemson.edu and Dr. Anderson (jta6@clemson.edu). 

James T. (Jim) Anderson, Ph.D. |CLEMSON UNIVERSITY 

James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair of Waterfowl and Wetland Ecology 

Director, James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center 

Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science 

Hwy 17 North – 177 Hobcaw Rd. 

P.O. Box 596 

Georgetown, SC 29442 

Jta6@clemson.edu 

Cell:  304-276-8956