Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD Position in Forest Disturbance and Geospatial Data Integration at Colorado State University 

The Francis Lab in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University is hiring a PhD student in Forest Science or the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. The PhD student will conduct quantitative research on forest disturbance ecology and wildfire science in western US forests using a combination of remote sensing and field plot data. If you are interested, please read the details below and fill out this form. 

Position Description: The student will participate in and contribute to an ongoing collaborative project funded by the Joint Fire Science Program to develop geospatial data products characterizing forest structure, composition, and fuel conditions in the upper Rio Grande watershed in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado by combining satellite and airborne remote sensing and field plot data. We are developing these wall-to-wall datasets to be annually-updatable to support forest management and to enable new research on the disturbance ecology of southwestern US forests in a changing climate. 

In addition to working on the Joint Fire Science Program funded project, the student may also work on other projects on forest disturbance in western US forests. There are several projects available in the lab (these can be discussed during the interview), Emily and the student will work together to decide on a set of projects the student will work on based on the studentÂ’s interests and skillset and the project needs. 

The PhD student will analyze large geospatial datasets and lead the development of peer-reviewed articles. The work is predominantly quantitative analysis, however the student will participate in occasional field work activities. Depending on the studentÂ’s interests, skillset, and project needs, the PhD student could have the opportunity to lead a summer field campaign. 

Collaboration: The PhD student will be based in the Francis Lab in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University, but the position involves collaboration with the Joint Fire Science Program project team which includes Matthew Hurteau (University of New Mexico), Harold Zald (US Forest Service PNW), Gavin Jones (US Forest Service RMRS), and Hans Andersen (US Forest Service PNW). The PhD student will also likely collaborate with a postdoctoral researcher who will be hired to work on the project.  

Stipend and Tuition: This position is funded (including a 12-month stipend, tuition remission, and benefits) through a combination of Graduate Research Assistantships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships. This position has guaranteed Graduate Research Assistantship funding for at least 2.5 years. After 2.5 years, funding for tuition and stipend will be through Graduate Teaching Assistantships, and through Graduate Research Assistantships from external and internal funding sources pursued by both Emily and the student.  

Start Date: The ideal start date for this position is Fall 2024, however, candidates with earlier start dates (Spring or Summer 2024) should also apply; earlier start dates will be considered. 

Minimum Qualifications:  

Bachelors degree in Ecology, forest science, statistics, environmental science, geography, or a related field 

Evidence of participation in research (e.g. undergraduate thesis, or internship with a lab) 

Experience with programming (in R, Python, Google Earth Engine, or other) 

Experience with, or enthusiasm for learning, geospatial analysis (in ArcGIS, QGIS, or geospatial analysis in R or Python, or other) 

Interest in and ability to work collaboratively and as part of a team 

Ability to persist in the pursuit of a goal when encountering challenges 

Ability to effectively communicate when writing and speaking 

Preferred Qualifications: 

MS Degree (or similar level of experience) in Ecology, forest science, statistics, environmental science, geography, or a related field 

Proficiency in programming in Google Earth Engine, R, or Python 

Evidence of contribution to, or leadership of, publications and/or professional presentations 

Experience conducting field work in challenging conditions or interest in occasionally participating in field work activities 

Knowledge of forest and fire ecology in the western US  

Experience with analysis of remote sensing data or geospatial datasets 

Evidence of commitment to promoting inclusion in a professional or academic setting 

How to Apply: If you are interested in applying for the PhD position, please fill out this form.  

The form will ask you to upload your CV, unofficial transcripts, and short statements of career goals and interest. For best consideration, please submit your responses to the form by October 31, 2023. However, applications will continue to be reviewed until a suitable candidate is found.  

Emily will contact qualified applicants to discuss the position and projects. Finalists will then need to apply for the PhD program at Colorado State University, either through the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship (Application Instructions for Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Here) or through the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (Application Instructions for the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology Here). If applying through the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, application materials will need to be submitted by December 1. 

About the Francis Lab: The Francis Lab is focused on understanding forest disturbance regimes in a changing climate. We develop new systems to measure forest structure, composition, and biomass by integrating remote sensing with field data. We then use those systems to understand how forest disturbances are changing with climate change and to support forest management. Visit the lab website here.