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FILLED: Conducting research on the interaction of a naturalized rust fungus, Puccinia punctiformis, with Canada thistle

Canada Thistle
Flowerheads and buds of Canada Thistle


Utah State University (USU) is inviting applications for a PhD graduate research assistantship (GRA) in the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate. The successful applicant will be part of a team that includes the labs of Drs. Steve Young ( and Robert Schaeffer (, who are conducting research on the interaction of a naturalized rust fungus, Puccinia punctiformis, with Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense L.), a highly invasive plant throughout the Intermountain West. Through field and greenhouse studies, differences in decline within populations and the effects of climate change, biota, and management tactics will be elucidated that may be impacting the relationship between the rust and thistle. Understanding the rust life cycle will be a key component of the project. The position will provide opportunities to develop new and innovative approaches to studying host-plant systems that will contribute to improved management.



Applicants should have an M.S. in ecology, plant science, pathology, weed science, or another related field of study. The student should possess strong skills in field-based research and data analysis, including statistics, as well as excellent writing and communication skills. The successful applicant will be organized, creative, and excited about working in a collaborative group environment. Interested candidates should send a single pdf file containing the following to Dr. Steve Young (steve(.)young@usu(.)edu): (i) cover letter, (ii) curriculum vitae, and (iii) list of three references including names, email addresses, and telephone numbers. Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and continue until the position is filled or the search is closed. Anticipated start for the position is Fall/Winter 2019.



Utah State University’s main campus is located in the city of Logan in northern Utah's Cache Valley, 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. The surrounding area, including ski resorts, lakes, rivers and mountains, makes Cache Valley one of the finest recreational environments in the nation. For a region with a population of about 114,000, the community and the university offer a spectacular array of first-rate cultural offerings provided by visiting artists and touring companies, faculty, students and members of the local community. In addition, Cache Valley is a very safe location as Logan ranked #1 Safest Metro in the West by Law Street, May 2015. USU is an integral part of local economies and communities in Utah, and its contributions are appreciated by local residents, resulting in a unique living-learning community.