Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD opportunity: Mechanisms of climatic adaptation in plants 

Are you interested in the genetic and physiological mechanisms of adaptation, the costs of plasticity, and/or understanding potential maladaptive responses to climate change? 

The Oakley lab in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University is recruiting a PhD student for Fall 2024 for an NSF funded project connecting the genotype-phenotype-fitness map for cold acclimation, an adaptive plastic response in seasonally freezing environments. Cold acclimation is common in plants throughout the temperate zones and involves dramatic metabolic and physiological changes in response to cool autumn temperatures which increase winter freezing tolerance. It is energetically costly, particularly in cool but non-freezing environments, and climate change may exacerbate the negative fitness consequences of this cost. This project (in collaboration with the Dilkes lab in Biochemistry at Purdue) is a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of anaturally occurring sequence polymorphism in a key regulatory gene on molecular and organismal phenotypes and fitness in contrasting conditions that mimic the native environments in which the ecotypes evolved. There are many opportunities for new directions building off the main themes of the project. There is a vibrant community of interdisciplinary plant biologists (https://ag.purdue.edu/cpb/faculty/) at Purdue, providing ample opportunity for interaction and collaboration. 

A BS/BA degree in ecology & evolution, genetics, plant biology, or related field is required (by Spring 2024), as is a strong interest in learning to use transcriptomic and metabolomic tools to answer evolutionary questions. No specific skills are required, but some combination of experience in experimental biology, molecular genetics, plant care, and bioinformatics/quantitative analysis is strongly preferred. 

If you are interested in applying, please email your CV and a short (1-2 paragraph) email explaining your interest in graduate school in general, and the lab and project in particular. This should be done prior to applying, ideally no later than 4 weeks prior to the application deadline. Applications are due by Nov. 15th, 2023 and do NOT require the GRE. This is a direct admit program (no rotations). Students interested in doing rotations may also apply via the interdisciplinary plant science program (https://ag.purdue.edu/cpb/apply-now.html). 

Chris Oakley 

oakleyc@purdue.edu 

https://btny.purdue.edu/labs/oakley