Careers in the Plant Sciences

MS Position - Cold tolerance in Grapes

North Dakota State University - Fargo, North Dakota, United States

Position Title: MS Position - Cold tolerance in Grapes
Position Type: Research Assistant
Application Review Begins: Monday, May 13, 2019
Application Deadline: Thursday, August 15, 2019
Institution: North Dakota State University
Department/Division: Biological Sciences
Field (e.g., systematics):
City: Fargo, North Dakota, United States
General Information: A MS position is available to study the mechanisms contributing to cold adaptation in North Dakota grape cultivars with Jill Hamilton (Biological Sciences) and Harlene Hatterman-Valenti (Plant Sciences) at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.

The ability to grow competitively, while reducing the risk of winter injury represents a critical trade-off mediated by environmental cues for many species. In grapevines, sensitivity to environmental cues, particularly temperature and photoperiod, which may accelerate or delay development of dormancy, will impact cultivar health and consequent fruit production. This project aims to comprehensively assess the interaction between temperature cues, phenology, and cold hardiness across multiple growing seasons in North Dakota grape cultivars. This project will systematically assess the fine-scale relationship between temperature and the induction and breakup of dormancy and dormancy-related traits for six grape cultivars replicated four times across two distinct environments.
Qualifications/Requirements: The ideal MS student will be prepared to lead field-based research monitoring phenological shifts in response to shifting environmental (temperature) cues and testing for cold hardiness using different experimental approaches, including electrolytic leakage and differential thermal analysis. In addition, the student will test an established model using North Dakota grape cultivars that predicts shifts in cold hardiness associated with the induction and breakup of dormancy. There is plenty of room to pursue particular interests in adaptive trait variation depending on the interest and experience of the candidate. The student will also be involved in outreach activities associated with the project engaging with local state agencies, grape growers, and wine producers in the region. Ability to work independently in the field, alongside basic botanical and plant physiology expertise is required. Some experience in quantitative analysis and modeling in R and previous experience evaluating physiological trait variation is preferred.
Responsibilities: The graduate student will (i) monitor temperature, (ii) phenological shifts over time in response to environmental cues, and (iii) estimate development of cold hardiness using electrolytic leakage. Data developed through this research will be used to test and optimize models that simulate life history transitions in response to environmental cues for for North Dakota grape cultivars. Results from this work will provide valuable information for varietal development and may be used for risk-management to predict winter injury.
Application Instructions (submission methods, etc.): For more information on the Hamilton Lab please visit the lab website at: http://www.jillahamilton.com. More information on the Department of Biological Sciences at NDSU can be found at https://www.ndsu.edu/biology/. Fargo is the largest city in the northern Midwest and as ‘Gateway to the West’ is a vibrant, growing community that has access to numerous outdoor opportunities for all seasons.

Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Hamilton (jill.hamilton@ndsu.edu). Please include a brief description of your research interests, experience, and a CV in your email. This position is funded via a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant and includes a full tuition waiver plus $18,000/year stipend. Options are available for both US and international students. Tentative start date is August 15, 2019, although a January start date is possible. Applications are being accepted now and the position will remain open until filled.
Compensation Range:
Contact Name: Jill Hamilton, jill.hamilton@ndsu.edu