The department of Plant & Environmental Sciences, Clemson University is 
inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD position in the plant 
ecophysiology lab of Dr. Nishanth Tharayil. This PhD position will focus on an 
NSF-supported project that investigates the chemical plasticity of tree roots 
in response to biotic and abiotic heterogeneities of soil environments and how 
these changes would, in turn, affect ecosystem functioning, such as 
decomposition, biogeochemical cycling, and feedbacks to global change. This 
project will involve laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments, with an 
emphasis on plant chemistry. The successful applicant will receive 
multidisciplinary training including plant and soil ecology, biogeochemistry, 
analytical chemistry, spectroscopy, metabolomics, etc. The student is 
encouraged to develop independent and creative studies within the broad realm 
of the project. The student will be supervised by Dr. Nishanth Tharayil and Dr. 
Vidya Suseela and closely work with Dr. Mengxue Xia, a postdoctoral fellow in 
the project. 

Prospective students that have a background and interest in plant 
ecology/physiology, soil science, biogeochemistry, or related fields are 
encouraged to apply. Previous laboratory experiences are not required but 
desirable. Field experience is a plus. The candidate should have a strong 
motive to learn analytical techniques as required by the project. Those 
interested may email Dr. Xia ( with “Chemical plasticity PhD 
position” in the subject line. Include in the email a CV, an unofficial 
transcript, contacts of two potential references, and a brief statement 
describing your background and research interests. Informal inquiries are also 
welcome. Application review will begin immediately and continue until the 
position is filled. The starting time is negotiable but preferably as soon as 
possible (summer 2019).

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