Graduate Research Assistantship Announcement
School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, 
Gainesville, FL 
Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Newton, Georgia

A Master of Science graduate assistantship is available with Dr. Ajay Sharma in 
the School of Forest Resources and Conservation – University of Florida. The 
assistantship will be in collaboration with and supported by the Joseph W. 
Jones Ecological Research Center, under joint supervision of Dr. Seth Bigelow 
(forest ecologist) and Dr. Sharma. 

Project Description
“Community re-organization after windstorms in longleaf pine forests”
The re-organization of forest communities after major canopy-opening 
disturbance depends on the presence and size of regenerating trees and their 
ability to quickly respond to increased resources. Disturbance regimes in 
frequent-fire longleaf pine ecosystems are thought to be characterized 
historically by single-tree or small group mortality due to lighting strikes, 
but larger openings due to hurricanes may have played a significant role in the 
development of these forests. Longleaf seedling and sapling growth may increase 
exponentially at larger opening sizes, yet competing hardwoods may benefit from 
the same resource pulse.  This study will be conducted during the early stages 
of forest community re-organization after Hurricane Michael in two longleaf 
pine locations of varying severity of impacts along the storm’s path: a 
moderate-to-severe impact area, and a light-to-moderate impact area. The 
objectives are to characterize the frequency distribution of canopy opening 
sizes created by the storm at each location; to measure height growth of 
regenerating longleaf pines and competing hardwoods across a gradient of light 
availability created by these openings; and to determine how soil conditions 
and time since fire interact with light to shape competitive outcomes. The 
resulting analysis will assist forest managers in identifying post-hurricane 
scenarios under which intervention may be required to achieve desired future 

The graduate assistant is expected to spend first year at the University of 
Florida, Gainesville for completing course work, and the second year at the 
Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway, located near Newton, 
GA, for research work. Duties include satisfactory completion of coursework, 
field data collection and analyses, writing a thesis and peer-reviewed 
publication(s) related to the study. An ideal candidate for this position will 
have a B.S. degree in forestry or a closely related discipline, experience in 
field work, familiarity with longleaf pine ecosystems, proficiency in written 
and oral communication, strong GRE scores, and evidence of scholastic success. 
The position will begin in Fall (August) 2019. 
The assistantship includes full tuition, competitive stipend, and fringe 
benefits. To apply, please submit the following to Dr. Ajay Sharma 
( and/or Dr. Seth Bigelow ( 
1) statement of career goals
2) curriculum vitae
3) transcripts of course work
4) GRE scores
5) contact information for three references
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a candidate is 

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