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MS Assistantship at Utah State University: Incorporating Geographic Variabilty Into a Mountain Pine Beetle Phenology Model

Utah State University (USU) and the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) in Logan, UT seek a motivated student to join our group examining the influence of climate change on mountain pine beetle dynamics.

More than 140,000 square miles of pine forests have been affected by this insect in the past 15 years. Climate warming is believed to play a role, and changing temperatures will influence future mountain pine beetle outbreaks. Genetic variability among mountain pine beetle populations, however, restricts the use of existing phenology (life-cycle timing) models to the geographic region where they were originally parameterized. The student selected for this assistantship will have the opportunity to help collect field and lab data and use these data to construct mechanistic phenology models for mountain pine beetle populations in southwestern and northwestern forests of the United States. The student will be an active participant in a research project aimed at forecasting mountain pine beetle population success in a changing climate.

Applications from students with interests in mathematical biology, entomology and/or forest ecology are encouraged to apply. The candidate student would pursue a degree in either biology, wildland resources, mathematics, or statistics depending on background and career goals; multi-disciplinary coursework and mentoring is envisioned. The student will receive a competitive 12-month stipend and travel support; full tuition waiver is available for students completing a Masters thesis. Interested applicants should send an email to Dr. Barbara Bentz ( and Dr. James Powell ( including:

  1. A resume describing your education, employment, and publication/presentation history,

  2. A list of three references (and their contact information),

  3. A copy of your academic transcripts (unofficial) and GRE scores,

  4. A cover letter describing your research interests and why you would be a good candidate for this assistantship.

For more information about the Mathematical Biology program at USU see, for the College of Natural Resources see , for the Ecology Center see and for the USFS RMRS Logan Lab see .

Additional Information: Logan is a valley community of about 125,000 people nestled in between the Wellsville Mountains and Bear River Range in northeastern Utah. The many ski resorts, lakes, rivers, and mountains in the region make it one of the finest outdoor recreation environments in the nation. The campus is 90 miles north of Salt Lake City. With views of a natural area reserve from campus, the pristine natural environment of the area makes Logan one of America’s most attractive and affordable university towns ( ).