Graduate Student Opportunities

We are currently accepting applications from students interested in pursuing a Masters or a PhD on the projects listed below. Qualified individuals will have opportunities to:

  • Conduct cutting-edge research on global change, long-term climatic variability, and ecological responses
  • Participate in field work on the spectacular landscapes of Alaska and western North America
  • Interact with a large group of students and scientists with a diverse array of expertise from multiple institutions
  • Design his/her own research project within the broad scopes of the descibed projects
Prospective students should have (1) a BS or MS in biology, geology, environmental science, or related fields, (2) strong verbal and written communication skills, and (3) excellent interpersonal skills. For additional information, please contact Professor F.S. Hu (

Current projects:

1. Plants and salmon as alternative nutrient sources to freshwater ecosystems.

This project addresses the question: Are N-fixing plants important for maintaining the productivity of lakes and streams that serve as salmon spawning habitats? The project involves water and soil sampling in remote areas using a float airplane, as well as biogeochemical, GIS, and statistical analyses in the laboratory. The work is in collaboration with scientists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Field sites are in the coastal areas of southwestern Alaska. Preference will be given to a highly motivated student who enjoys rigorous outdoor activities and who is interested in ecological conservation.

2. Responses of tundra fire regimes to climatic warming.

The direct effects of fires will likely over-shadow the indirect effects of climatic warming on tundra ecosystems over the next several decades. In this NSF-funded project, we are using knowledge of past shifts in tundra-fire regimes to guide future predictions. The project combines paleoecological analyses and computer modeling to examine fire-climate relationships in the past, predict fire regimes of the 21st century, and elucidate effects of recurrent tundra fires on the carbon cycle. Field sites are in the Arctic tundra of Alaska. We particularly welcome applications from students with a strong ecological and/or quantitative background.

3. Integration of molecular genetics and long-term ecology.

Many of the questions regarding the responses of plants to climatic warming cannot be answered without a long-term perspective. Genetic analysis of plants offers an innovative approach to resolving a number of long-standing questions in that context. Field sites are located in boreal and temperate forests of western North America. Applications from students interested in the interface of molecular genetics and forest ecology are particularly welcome.

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Department of Plant Biology
Department of Geology
Program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Integrative Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


created 08/24/2009
updated 09/27/2010