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Current Openings

The Freeman lab is currently recruiting PhD students for the Biology or Neuroscience PhD programs to investigate the neurobiological basis of social attachment across a variety of species, including canids, primates, and humans. Candidates are expected to have 1) an undergraduate degree in Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, or related disciplines, 2) strong verbal and written communication skills, 3) the ability to work independently and in a collaborative team, and 4) a strong interest in behavioral neuroendocrinology, comparative neuroanatomy, and/or biological psychology. Individuals with experience with the experimental quantification of social behavior in animals and/or the histological processing of brain tissue are especially encouraged to apply. For more information, please email Dr. Sara Freeman ( and send an up-to-date CV, a brief (1-page or less) statement of previous research experiences and future interests/goals, an unofficial undergraduate transcript, and contact information for 3 references.

The Department of Biology and the Neuroscience PhD Program at USU both offer excellent opportunities for education, training, funding, and collaboration. PhD students are provided with a competitive stipend, tuition coverage, and benefits for up to 6 years through a combination of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. USU is located in the city of Logan in the Cache Valley of northern Utah, which offers a reasonable cost of living, abundant recreation opportunities across all four seasons, and incredible access (a day’s drive or less) to numerous National Parks across Utah, Montana, and Wyoming, such as Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Canyonlands, and Arches, among others.

We seek a MS student to expand upon research in the Alston and Spears Labs on biological control of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halymorpha halys (Stal), with emphasis on egg parasitoids. BMSB was first detected in urban/suburban areas of Salt Lake City, UT, in 2012. Economic damage was first confirmed in fruit and vegetable crops in 2017. The natural parasitoid for BMSB, Trissolcus japonicus (Ashmead) was first discovered attacking BMSB egg masses in Salt Lake City in 2019. We seek a graduate student to investigate the impacts and efficiency of T. japonicus and native parasitoids on BMSB and other stink bug species. This position will provide opportunities to learn skills in field insect monitoring, rearing, and parasitoid identification and efficiency testing. Engagement in outreach education is expected. This position will participate in the national USDA NIFA SCRI BMSB project (

The graduate position is based on the Utah State University (USU) campus in Logan, UT. Logan is located in a mountain valley about 1.5 hr drive north of Salt Lake City with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. USU has approximately 25,000 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate students on its main and Statewide Campuses. USU has a strong tradition of commitment to high quality education, research, and extension. Funding support includes research assistantship (1 semester and summer per year) and teaching assistantship (1 semester per year) for up to 3 years. The opportunity to gain teaching experience while pursuing a MS degree will be highly valuable to career preparation. Degree options in Insect Biology and Pest Management, and Ecology are available. Visit the Department of Biology website for more information for prospective students, and about our faculty, students, staff, and research resources (

Contact Diane Alston ( or Lori Spears ( for more information. Submit a cover letter with statement of interest, resume, unofficial copy of undergraduate transcripts, and names and contact information of three references to Diane and Lori.

USU is an AA/EO employer. The institution recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the experience of its employees and students.

Start Date: Flexible, January to May, 2020 preferable
Compensation: $21,000 annual salary plus benefits (tuition, fees, and insurance; a package worth an additional $7,463 for Utah residents and $18,125 for non-residents annually)


The Schaeffer Lab in the Department of Biology at Utah State University (USU) is looking for MS/PhD students starting Fall 2020. Potential to start earlier however may be possible for the right candidate.

The lab uses experiments and field studies, coupled with chemical, molecular, and bioinformatic techniques, to examine the ecology and evolution of cross-kingdom interactions between plants, insects, and microbes in both natural and human-modified ecosystems. Many research topics can be pursued, including but not limited to, the chemical and evolutionary ecology of plant-pollinator-microbe interactions, microbial-assisted biocontrol of plant disease and invasives, among others. Students are welcome to work on systems in which research is already being pursued in the lab; however, I strongly encourage development of independent lines of research, as well as pursuit of external funding to support those efforts.

The Department of Biology and USU offer excellent opportunities for education, training, funding, and collaboration. All graduate students in the department are provided with a competitive stipend and benefits for up to 3 (MS students) or 6 (PhD students) years through a combination of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. Moreover, abundant opportunities for collaboration exist, given the vibrant research community that spans across the Biology department, Ecology Center, and two USDA-ARS labs focused on pollinating insects and poisonous plants respectively. Finally, being centered in the Cache Valley of northern Utah, Logan offers abundant recreation opportunities, given close proximity to the Wasatch Range, as well as National parks.

Prospective students should email me ( with a note expressing research interests, as well as a description of your past research experience. Please include your C.V. and contact information for three references. Ideal applicants will have: background in plant or microbial ecology, or related subject; strong written and oral communication skills, strong quantitative and/or bioinformatic skills; ability to work independently or part of a collaborative team. Please visit the lab webpage for more information:

The Bernhardt lab is recruiting highly qualified individuals for graduate study (M.S./Ph.D.). Research areas include molecular evolution of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes and sand flies, fitness costs associated with insecticide resistance, and evaluating field profiles. Preferred qualifications include a background in evolution, molecular biology, entomology, genomics, and the ability to work in a collaborative environment. Students are funded by teaching assistantships, but are strongly encouraged to apply for graduate research funding and doctoral dissertation improvement grants. Before applying, contact Dr. Scott Bernhardt ( with your interest.

The Bobeck lab is currently looking for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to study the neurobiology of pain and opioid tolerance and addiction using imaging, molecular, and behavioral techniques. Candidates with experience in these areas are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information see and email Dr. Erin Bobeck ( your CV, research interest statement, and contact information for 3 references.


PhD and MS graduate student assistantships are available in the Ecology Center and the Department of Biology at Utah State University, Logan, UT, as part of a USDA-AFRI project examining how soil microbial growth efficiencies (MGE) are influenced by drought in rangeland and agro-ecosystems. Soil microbial growth efficiency (aka carbon-use efficiency) is a key variable regulating greenhouse gas emissions from soil, as well as rates of carbon and nutrient sequestration and release. Biogeochemical models are extremely sensitive to variation in MGE, yet we have a poor understanding of how environmental variables influence MGE. This project will utilize stable isotope techniques to examine how variation in soil moisture regulates MGE in sagebrush steppe, irrigated pasture, and conventional and organic cropland ecosystems. The ideal applicant will have: background in soil science, microbial or plant ecology, biogeochemistry, or a related area; good chemistry and quantitative skills; excellent written and oral communication skills; and the ability to work closely with others and independently at field sites. Interested individuals should send a CV to John Stark (, Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT.


The Waring lab is recruiting graduate students to work on projects related to plant-soil interactions and soil biogeochemistry. Applicants should have a strong research interest in plant-soil feedbacks, mycorrhizal ecology, and/or soil carbon cycling. Research in the Waring lab takes place in a diverse array of ecosystems, from semiarid grasslands to tropical forests, and is highly interdisciplinary, spanning plant, microbial, and ecosystem ecology. You can find out more about ongoing projects at Candidates with lab or field experience in any of these areas are strongly encouraged to apply. For inquiries about the position, please contact Dr. Waring ( with a cover letter and CV.


Graduate positions are available in the research group of Dr. Noelle G. Beckman in the Department of Biology and Ecology Center at Utah State University. The Beckman Lab investigates interactions between plants and their environment occurring over multiple scales and examines the role of these interactions in limiting plant populations and maintaining biodiversity. Many of these interactions are disrupted by global change, and we examine the consequences of these disruptions for plant communities and ecosystem functions. The research group uses a combination of empirical and quantitative approaches to address our research questions. Examples of ongoing projects include: 1) synthesizing data with mathematical models to predict extinction risk of plant species to climate change, 2) understanding the importance of seed dispersal under global change, and 3) examining the influence of dispersal and plant consumers on plant spatial patterns. Before applying, interested candidates should contact Dr. Beckman (noelle.beckman AT with a letter of interest, CV, and contact information for two references. The Beckman Lab is committed to building a diverse and inclusive environment. Women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. More details about the position 


Research Opportunities for Graduate Students

This funding is available for all degrees, MS and PhD in Biology and Ecology. For more information see .