Be at the forefront of conservation genetics

Invasive species are one of the most serious challenges facing conservation biologists today. China and the U.S. have been exchanging species for hundreds of years, but our globalized economy is putting new pressure on ecosystems in both parts of the world. Graduate training in conservation genetics will provide you a powerful tool in meeting that challenge. The University of Georgia has a broad range of faculty interested in studying invasive species and we invite you to consider UGA as the place to pursue your doctoral education.

The University of Georgia has received a Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) grant from the National Science Foundation to support research on the genetics and ecology of invasive plant and pathogen species exchanged between the southeastern U.S. and China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Graduate student fellowships are available starting in Fall 2008 to study the ecological genetics of invasive species, including plant pathogens. Fellowships offer a highly competitive stipend as well as funds for research and travel. In order to be eligible for support, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Successful applicants will develop research projects that will study the population genetics, ecology and/or demography of invasive species that are native to the southeastern U.S. and to China. A significant proportion of each student's research project must be conducted in China in collaboration with Chinese research scientists.

Students can work with any senior personnel on the UGA-PIRE program. Students should contact a prospective major adviser directly and apply through that department. Senior personnel will contact the Program Director and forward requested materials. Final decisions regarding the selection of students will be made by the Education Committee.

Questions? Contact Dr. Rodney Mauricio, UGA-PIRE Program Director, via email (mauricio@uga.edu).

Training Program

Since our goal is to have a career-long commitment to working in collaboration with Chinese colleagues, we will expect graduate students to engage in intensive language training. We also have a sequence of courses in genetics, evolutionary biology and ecology that all students must complete.

To provide some vertical integration, graduate students supported by the PIRE will serve as teaching assistants in the UGA course on the genetics of invasiveness and in the field course in China. The goal is not only to introduce graduate students to the biological communities of China, but to make them comfortable with the language, culture, and colleagues in China. This should help ensure long-term scientific collaborations.

Graduate students will rotate in the lab of one or more of our partner senior personnel. While in China, graduate students will have Chinese graduate student partners and will be assigned language tutors. The students will be enrolled in the Ph.D. program at UGA, and the dissertation research topic will focus in a research area that involves species in both their native and introduced habitats. The major professor will be drawn from the grant senior personnel and all students will have at least one of the Chinese senior personnel serve on the student's dissertation committee. That Chinese committee member will participate in annual meetings via video link (which will require some early morning/late evening meetings).