Funding Opportunities

Current Assistantship Opportunities

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Summary
The Bull Penn Laboratory is seeking two Ph.D. students to start Fall 2020 to work toward degrees in Plant Pathology, Plant Biology, or related graduate program at Penn State University with an emphasis on phytobiomes and phytobacteriology. Students will choose research projects that investigate seed microbiomes, microbial predators, or plant microbe interactions. Students may choose to use translational taxonomy approaches including diagnostic metagenomics for detection and quantification of pathogens from the environment and seed. These basic research projects will have direct impacts on the management of bacterial diseases of cucurbits and chenopods field and seed crops.

Contact
Dr. Carolee Bull

Summary
The Davenport Lab is seeking Ph.D. students to start in either the 2019 or 2020 academic year interested in investigating the relationship between humans and our microbiomes using a genomic perspective. Projects available include both evolutionary and medical questions. Our lab uses a mix of wet-lab and computational techniques. Please see the research and openings descriptions on the lab website or contact Emily for more information.

Contact
Emily Davenport

Summary
Plants recruit and nurture a diverse community of microbes — the microbiome. In natural and man-made ecosystems, root-associated microbiomes considerably expand the plant’s genomic and metabolic capabilities, providing essential life-support functions such as nutrient acquisition, modulation of immune responses and (a)biotic stress tolerance. The overall aim of this project is to investigate the effects of plant genotype on root microbiome assembly and function, with a specific focus on microbial functions enhancing plant tolerance to drought. The student will have the possibility to use various tools, including molecular biology, bioinformatics, statistical and simulation modeling, and laboratory experiments. The overall goal is to better understand the impact of drought on plant microbiomes and harness the potential of specific microbial functions that help the plant to cope with such stress in natural and agricultural settings.

Contact
Francisco Dini Andreote

Summary
The Crandall lab seeks one motivated Ph.D. student to start in Fall 2020 to work toward a degree in Plant Pathology, Plant Biology, Ecology, or a related graduate program at Penn State. We are looking for someone who is interested in learning how to use metagenomic tools to detect and suppress plant disease. The research focus will be on fungal and oomycete soilborne pathogens that infect specialty crops such as potato or berries and identifying shifts in root microbial diversity and function. This project will provide opportunities to develop essential skills in: field and greenhouse experimental design, novel molecular lab methods, and computational analysis of genetic data. Central to this position is learning how to accurately and concisely communicate results to researchers and growers.

Contact
Sharifa Crandall

Summary
The Barbercheck Lab is seeking one Master’s student to start in the Summer or Fall of 2020. The student will examine the effects of biotic and abiotic stress in mediating endophytic colonization by the fungal insect pathogen, M. robertsii in field, greenhouse, and laboratory-based studies. The student’s project can focus on the prevalence of endophytic colonization of corn grown from non-inoculated and M. robertsii-inoculated seed in on-going organic cropping systems experiments; the relative ability of M. robertsii to establish colonization in corn by seed and soil inoculation under non-competitive and competitive conditions in greenhouse tests; the effects of drought and soil saturation on recruitment and establishment of endophytic M. robertsii by corn, and on plant growth and defense gene expression; or the effects of the interaction of abiotic stress and biotic stress from the black cutworm.

Contact
Dr. Mary Barbercheck

Summary
The Burghardt Lab at Penn State University is looking for a Ph.D. student to start in the Fall of 2020. In collaboration with the PI, the student will develop a research project on the evolutionary ecology of plant-microbe-climate interactions. While projects range from fundamental to applied, I am particularly interested in students who want to perform lab, field, or in silico experimental work with a legume-rhizobia model system and/or leguminous forages and cover crops. The lab is highly interdisciplinary, with trainees having the opportunity to learn a diverse set of tools including manipulative experiments, image analysis, genomics and bioinformatics, molecular biology, and simulation modeling. Based on interests and desired expertise, the student can apply to work toward a degree in Ecology, Plant Biology, Bioinformatics & Genomics, or Plant Sciences.

Contact
Dr. Liana Burghardt