Current Opportunities

PhD: Fire Ecology of Upland Oak Forests

A PhD position for Fall 2020 is available with Dr. Heather Alexander in the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab at Mississippi State University to study fire ecology of upland oak forests. The student’s research will examine how changes in forest composition and structure (as consequences of changing fire regimes and/or herbivory) impact regeneration of desired species and the potential outcomes for forest restoration at a variety of sites, including Spirit Hill Farm in northern Mississippi and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in western Kentucky. The student will interact with faculty in the Departments of Forestry and Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, private landowners, and state/federal agency personnel. The student will be appointed as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) in the Department of Forestry. In addition to developing and executing dissertation research, the student will be expected to (1) act as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in Dendrology and/or Ecology during several semesters, (2) assist other collaborating researchers with their projects, and (3) contribute to departmental, college, and university service.

Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree in forestry, ecology, biology, or a related field; preference will be given to applicants with a M.S. degree in one of these fields and/or those with a publication record. Prior experience in fieldwork related to forest ecology, silviculture, and/or wildlife habitat management is required. Successful candidates must demonstrate an aptitude for research, strong analytical and oral and written scientific communication skills, attention to detail, and ability to work independently and as a team. Applicants must be capable of working long hours outdoors exposed to harsh weather, biting insects, and thorny vegetation. Ability to drive ATVs, side x sides, tractors, operate chainsaws and other equipment, and implement prescribed fires strongly preferred. Must also possess a current and valid driver's license and be able to drive a state vehicle.

If interested, please email to Dr. Heather Alexander (

  1. A cover letter discussing interest in the research, qualifications, and applicable background experience;
  2. A resume/CV;
  3. Unofficial transcripts;
  4. Contact information for three professional references.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Details on the full application process to the MSU Graduate School can be found here. Financial support is provided for at least 3.5 years, starting in August 2020, and includes a stipend ($20,000/year), tuition waiver, and health insurance. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.