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PhD Position – Detecting plant demography with drones, Caughlin Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University, Idaho, USA

We are recruiting a PhD student to join a team measuring sagebrush recovery after fire using imagery from unoccupied aerial systems (UAS). As wildfires decimate sagebrush habitat, landscape recovery depends on whether big sagebrush can recolonize disturbed areas. However, like most low-statured plants, our understanding of big sagebrush demography is almost entirely derived from meter-scale field plots, limiting extrapolation to larger scales. The student will develop novel quantitative models that use UAS data to measure big sagebrush growth, survival, and recruitment. This research will take place as part of a collaborative team, working to unify ecological field data, Bayesian statistics, and remote sensing to address restoration challenges. The PhD student will be part of Boise State’s Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior doctoral program, an interdisciplinary program that spans biological sciences, geosciences, anthropology, and human-environment systems.


We are seeking a student with expertise in data science, remote sensing, spatial analysis, plant demography, and/or modeling. The student must have strong computational training and the desire to further develop their expertise in data science, remote sensing, and programming. This is an ideal position for a student looking to advance their mathematical and statistical training while developing solutions to real-world ecological problems. Competitive students will have a Master’s degree and research or job experience related to spatial analyses. For further questions, please contact Trevor Caughlin.

To Apply

Please send via email:

• Cover letter that states why you are interested in this position and if/how you meet each of the qualifications listed above;

• CV that includes employment history with dates of employment;

• Writing sample (e.g. a scientific paper, grant application, class project) that demonstrates your ability to synthesize complex information;

•  Names and contact information for three (3) professional references; and

• Copies of transcripts (unofficial are fine).

Applications should be sent as a single pdf to Trevor Caughlin with “PhD application” in the email subject line. Please also feel free to reach out to Dr. Caughlin if you have additional questions. Review of documents will begin February 15th, 2022 and will continue until a finalist is identified to formally apply to the selected PhD program at Boise State. All admission decisions must be approved by the Graduate Dean.


The Caughlin Lab embraces and welcomes diversity, including (but not limited to) people of any gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and neurotype. Accordingly, applicants who would add to the diversity and excellence of our academic community are encouraged to apply.

Stipend and tuition and fees

This position includes support in the form of a graduate assistantship (renewable, 12-month stipend), tuition and fee waiver, and health insurance.

About Boise

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the capital of the state of Idaho, Boise is frequently featured as a top-ranked metropolis. The city has ample opportunities for world-class outdoor activities year-round and a thriving arts and entertainment culture: