SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has received funding from the National Science Foundation for a project to explore principles that shape evolutionary processes in urban wildlife. The project is in collaboration with Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Bradley Cosentino) and Yale University (Adalgisa Caccone). The focus of this PhD research will be conducting field surveys of gray squirrel populations in 10 cities in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada to understand the extent to which clines in melanism along urbanization gradients are caused by divergent natural selection versus historical founder effects associated with introduction events. Extensive travel for fieldwork in the eastern United States and Canada will be required. The PhD student will also undertake field surveys and experiments to assess the drivers of selection for melanism in gray squirrels in the Syracuse, New York area, and develop additional lines of inquiry as part of their PhD program. The PhD student will also contribute to outreach efforts on backyard evolution via community science and engagement with regional K12 schools.
The position is fully funded under an NSF-funded research assistantship for three years, including summer, after which the PhD student will be supported on teaching assistantships (or other research assistantships as they become available) for up to three additional years.
schools of environmental science and forestry in the United States. ESF operates four field facilities and >25,000 acres of mostly forested land, providing excellent opportunities for field research. Students at ESF enjoy the benefits of a small institution, but can also access the resources and facilities of Syracuse University, an adjacent, large university. Located in central New York State, Syracuse is a lively city within a half-day drive of major urban centers (New York, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal), as well as abundant natural areas (Adirondacks, Thousand Islands, Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls). The host department supports a thriving graduate program in applied ecology, wildlife science, and conservation biology.
MS degree completed in wildlife biology, ecology, evolution, or a related field prior to starting the position, experience in quantitative analyses and developing peer-reviewed publications, background in wildlife sampling in the field, strong communication skills, and professional and intellectual interests in urban ecology, wildlife biology, contemporary evolution, and human-wildlife interaction.