Funded PhD Assistantship - Dryland Microbial Ecology


The Pietrasiak and Holguin labs at New Mexico State University invite applications for a USDA-AFRI sponsored Ph.D. assistantship in the Plant and Environmental Science (PES) program starting in spring 2020. This project is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary study with PI’s spanning disciplines such as Environmental Sciences, Rangeland and Global Change ecology to using cutting edge techniques in microbiology, plant systematics, and ecology.

Objective: To quantify biological soil crust microbiomes and to understand their influence on rangeland plant performance and stress responses in the presence of drought and grazing. Joining our team will offer the unique opportunity to work in the scenic setting of the Colorado Plateau for the field component with the lab and coursework on NMSU’s campus at Las Cruces, NM. Specifically, this PhD project will be to use cutting edge -omics approaches to characterize the soil microbiomes, their metabolomics and chemical exudations, and their impacts on soil biogeochemical properties.

Qualifications: Successful candidates will have a strong academic record in microbiology, ecology, biology, environmental science, soil science, or a similar natural resource related field, as well as the ability to effectively collaborate as well as work independently. Preference will be given to applicants who have previous research experience in microbial ecology and an enthusiasm for field, greenhouse, lab work, and bioinformatics. Positions will be funded mainly through research assistantships with opportunities for teaching assistantships while one semester of teaching is required for the Ph.D. program in the PES Department at NMSU.

Contact: Please email lab PI Nicole Pietrasiak at to apply or inquire further about the available positions. When contacting PI Pietrasiak, please include:

  • A brief letter of interest that includes projected research and career goals.

  • Current CV, scanned GRE scores and unofficial transcripts

Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis, however, for full consideration please send materials by Oct 11, 2019.
More information about the graduate program at NMSU’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the NMSU graduate school can be found online.