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Graduate assistantship: Metacommunities in River Networks

Expiration Date: 

Seeking qualified applicants for a graduate assistantship at the Ph.D. level at Virginia Tech in the lab of Bryan L. Brown in the Department of Biological Sciences. Starting date could be as early as January 2023, though the target starting time is Summer 2023. Beginning in Fall is also possible, but beginning no later than Summer would be advantageous for an application 

In general, the Brown lab ( focuses on community ecology in aquatic systems. Operationally, the lab emphasizes the intersection between theory and empiricism, primarily by testing broad ecological concepts using observation, experiment, and modeling. Themes in the lab include metacommunity ecology, community assembly, and the ecology of symbiosis. The Brown lab is also a member of the longstanding Virginia Tech Stream Team (, a group of 7 labs at Virginia Tech that share common themes in community and ecosystem ecology, and a focus on aquatic systems. 

Specifically, the graduate assistantship will be supported by a recently-funded NSF project on metacommunity dynamics of macroinvertebrate communities in river networks, examining the 3-way interaction between dispersal, network position, and community size. One exciting facet of this project is working in parallel with Brazilian collaborators Victor Saito and Tadeu Siqueira to conduct Northern Hemisphere/Southern Hemisphere comparisons to produce climate change relevant results. The US team includes long-time collaborators Chris Swan (UMBC) and Kurt Anderson (UC-Riverside). The successful student will be expected to not only engage in research included in the funded project, but also to develop their own research focus under the general thematic umbrella of the project. 

Ultimately applicants will need to apply to the graduate program in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. However, I STRONGLY urge you to contact me directly via email (, indicating your intention to apply. In that first message please include the following: 1) an brief introduction; 2) an academic CV;  3) a brief (≤ 2 page) description of your career goals and how you feel working on this project will further those ambitions; 4) any other information that might be helpful in evaluating your application (e.g., grades, scores); 5) an indication of when you are hoping to begin your graduate work. 1 and 3 can be included together in an email if you wish. As a general rule, for a Ph.D. position, I give strong preference to students who have either completed a Masters degree, or who have very significant prior research experience, so please highlight those in your application. If you have questions, feel free to contact me directly at I’ll look forward to hearing from you.