Postdoctoral and PhD positions available for lab startup at Arizona State University


The Macrosystems Ecology Lab (PI Benjamin Blonder) will be moving from the University of Oxford to Arizona State University ( in Tempe, Arizona beginning January 2018. The lab’s focus is on predictive community ecology and biogeography, paleoecological and anthropogenic effects on biodiversity dynamics, and global change plant ecophysiology. We use a combination of field, eco-informatics, and modeling approaches to address these questions with a broad team of international collaborators. Field sites are focused in forests and alpine environments in Latin America, southeast Asia, Scandinavia, and the United States. Learn more about this work at

The lab will be a collaborative working environment within a dynamic university that hosts many other excellent ecology and sustainability research groups. Arizona State University is easily reached by light rail service from the Phoenix international airport. The Phoenix area hosts a vibrant multicultural community, and the region provides excellent recreation and research opportunities, with the Grand Canyon, Colorado Plateau, Madrean Sky Islands, and northern Mexico all close by.



Up to two postdoctoral positions are available. We are primarily seeking to recruit independent researchers who are interested in collaborative projects building on our focal research areas and data / field resources, or working with our network of international collaborators.
Projects could focus on any topic of mutual interest, and use a combination of field, modeling, or informatics approaches. Some possible project areas could include:

(1) Delineating the drivers of phenotypic variation in leaf venation networks. This project would seek to explain causes and consequences of variation in the multi-scale branching and looping of these networks. The work would involve systematic survey of a phylogenetically and ecologically broad set of species in lab and field contexts, as well as the development of novel theory, concepts, and visualization techniques.

(2) Assessing historical anthropogenic effects on species distributions and ecological disequilibrium. This project would focus on exploring human uses of food/medicine/fiber plants throughout the Americas as a key driver of community and regional diversity patterns. The work would involve synthesizing many historical and ethnobotanical resources with contemporary informatics resources and field surveys.

(3) Integrating network theory, niche/hypervolume, and control theory concepts into community ecology. This project would develop mathematical approaches to better predict and manage shifts in community composition, or delineate when such predictions would not be possible. The project would also involve field tests in a range of manipulative and observational field contexts.
Strong writing, analytical, and field skills are desired, as well as a track record of successful publication. Researchers with their own field systems or research programs are strongly encouraged to apply. The lab is a collaborative environment, with postdoctoral researchers expected to contribute to mentoring and community-building for graduate and undergraduate researchers. Candidates with an interest in building on our science education and community outreach initiatives are very welcome.

Funding is available for 2 years at competitive salaries, with additional support available for conference travel and fieldwork. Start dates could be between September 2017 and April 2018. Information on benefits and leave policies is available at The lab is strongly supportive of positive work-life balance for people in all stages of their careers.

Please get in touch by email ( if you are interested in applying. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.



Up to two PhD positions are available within any of the School of Life Sciences (SOLS). More information about the graduate program is available at

Independently-developed theses are encouraged and may be broad-ranging within the scope of the lab’s focus areas. However possible dissertation areas include:

(1) Building more predictive models of community dynamics via incorporation of energy budget and trait-based performance concepts into coexistence theory. This work could involve a combination of mathematical modeling and field observation / manipulation in a range of long-term plant census plots throughout the Colorado Rockies, Peru, and Malaysian Borneo.

(2) Assessing the role of species interactions and phenology in modulating plant performance and demography. This project could involve coupling a range of leaf-level plant ecophysiology measurements with leaf lifespan and herbivory observations across environmental gradients, and would be primarily field-based. Sites could encompass a Canada – Mexico latitudinal gradient or a South American elevation / rainfall gradient.

Students should be independently motivated and come with strong writing and critical thinking skills. Those with an interest in developing their training in computational statistics, modeling, field methods, and/or foreign languages are especially encouraged.
The lab also has a strong community outreach component via inquiry-based science education partnerships with underserved communities. Students interested in contributing to these efforts are very welcome.

The School of Life Sciences has a vibrant graduate program with a strong graduate student community. Funding for five years is guaranteed via a combination of teaching and research assistantships for both United States and international applicants. There are additional funds available for summer fieldwork and conference travel. The fall priority application deadline is 1 December 2016. Applications can be submitted via the SOLS website. Please get in touch by email ( if you are interested in applying.


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