Join Our Lab Group

Funded Graduate Student Opportunities starting January 2019

The Freshwater Ecosystem Ecology Lab (www.bradwtaylor.com) in the Department of Applied Ecology (https://appliedecology.cals.ncsu.edu/) at North Carolina State University is accepting applications for a graduate student interested in earning a Masters of Science degree in stream ecology. Funding will support a graduate student to develop innovative whole-stream experimental approaches to test whether enhancing the egg-laying habitat for adult stream insects can be used to accelerate the recovery and resilience of biological conditions, such as invertebrate community structure, diversity, and productivity in restored streams in North Carolina. Applicants with interest in developing expertise in invertebrate ecology, life histories, natural history, dispersal, recruitment, population ecology, invertebrate identification, and diversity metrics are especially encouraged to apply.

B.A. or B.S. degree in a related field is required.  Applicants should have the ability to work well both independently and cooperatively, and a firm interest in working in an interdisciplinary research environment that includes state agencies, private industry stream restoration contractors, and private landowners. Applicants should be motivated, creative, eager to be immersed in a program that requires developing strengths in applied and basic science skills, and possess strong communication and quantitative skills. Financial support includes: a yearly stipend, tuition support, health insurance, funds for research expenses, and funds for research assistants.

The optimal start date is January 2019 but September 2018 could be an alternate start date. Review of complete applications will begin immediately, and this opportunity will remain available until a suitable candidate is found or at the latest 15 November 2018. To apply, visit https://grad.ncsu.edu/apply/ and indicate Brad Taylor as your potential advisor.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Brad Taylor (brad.taylor@ncsu.edu) prior to applying.


Research Assistants for Summer 2018

The Freshwater Ecosystem Ecology Lab (www.bradwtaylor.com North Carolina State University) is accepting applications for two technician positions to assist with research projects at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (www.rmbl.org) during summer 2018. The position will require working independently or in small teams at elevations of 9,000 to 11,000 feet in remote settings with potential for inclement weather conditions. The positions will also require careful collection of samples and precise field measurements using specialized field and lab equipment. Applicant should be comfortable in laboratory settings and prior experience with nutrient analyses, stable isotopes, invertebrate, microscopy, or other lab analysis is preferred. The position will begin as early as late April to may be extended to the end of October but applicants that can only meet part of that duration will also be considered.

The technicians will be expected to assist with at least a subset of the following projects:

  1. What are rates of carbon dioxide efflux from soils of drying ponds? We will require careful use of a PP Systems EGM 5 (similar to a Li-Cor) and prior experience using field instrumentation is desired but not necessary. It will also require spending extended periods of time working at a 11,200 feet in elevation remote field site.
  2. How do macroinvertebrates survive in the shallow aquifer environment of river floodplains? How do they make use of methane-derived carbon resources? We will require assistance with installation of shallow wells (can be physically demanding), carrying of heavy equipment (up to 50 lbs) for distances <1 mile, collection and preservation of aquatic insects, and collection and analysis of water and dissolved gas samples.
  3. How do climate-induced shifts in the timing of peak streamflow hydrology affect nutrient cycling? We will require assistance in the field sampling water column nutrients, benthic algae, and whole-stream nutrient uptake measurements. Remote streams will be accessed by vehicle and on foot (hiking <4 miles). We will also require assistance in the laboratory processing nutrient, invertebrate, and algal samples. Experience with one or more of the sampling procedure is preferred. A strong chemistry background, course record, previous experience with wet chemistry or willingness to master meticulous analytical chemical analyses is also strongly desired.
  4. How does climate-induced variation in light or temperature affect the development of stream algae? We will require assistance maintaining stream microcosm experiments. Upkeep duties will include periodically cleaning filters, tanks, and backflushing water lines to maintain water flow in experimental flow-through stream channels. Sampling duties will collecting water samples, stream invertebrates, scrubbing algae from rocks and tiles.
  5. What are the causes and consequences of Didymosphenia geminata blooms. We will need assistance maintaining flow-through stream channel experiments, as well as weekly field sampling of invertebrates and algae from rivers and identifying and counting invertebrates and algae in the laboratory using a microscope.

Housing and station fees at the RMBL will be included. Wages will be commensurate with experience and range from $12 to $18/hour.

To apply, please compile the following information into one PDF document:

  • 1-2 page cover letter describing your suitability for the position, reasons for applying, and earliest start and latest end dates. Detail any prior experience directly related to the requirements of the position and any relevant coursework in your letter or other materials.
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Contact information for 3 references

Please email any questions or completed applications to Amanda DelVecchia at amanda.delvecchia@gmail.com or Brad Taylor brad.taylor@ncsu.edu by March 25, 2018.


POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED: Research Experience for Undergraduates Summer 2018

Undergraduate research opportunity to work as part of a team exploring the consequences of climate-induced species range shifts on ecosystem functioning (e.g., nutrient cycling) in subalpine ponds in the Colorado Rockies. The position provides a weekly stipend, housing, meals, travel to the site, and participation in a REU Training and Responsible Conduct of Research Program beginning as early as mid May and ending in mid August.          

This research is motivated by the fact that species distributions around the world are shifting in response to a changing climate but we known little about how these shifts in elevation, latitude, or among local habitats will affect ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling. More than 25 years of continuous study of the distribution and abundance of aquatic animals in high-elevation ponds in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado has revealed that species common at low elevations are moving towards higher elevations, and within elevations, animals are moving into different habitat types (i.e., temporary to semi-permanent pond) as drying regimes become more extreme. The main research project focuses on a guild of case-making caddisflies (see left photo) that vary considerably in their contribution to ecosystem processes and their response to climate-induced changes in pond hydrology.

We are seeking an undergraduate student interested in exploring the contribution of additional animal species to nutrient cycling. Specifically, the REU will take a lead role in measuring nitrogen and phosphorus excretion rates of animals and nitrogen and phosphorus uptake by water column and benthic plants and microbes in subalpine ponds that differ in hydroperiod and animal community composition to explore the following questions: 1) How does nutrient supply via excretion by species in the biomass-dominant caddisfly guild compare to excretion by other pond species, such as midge larvae, zooplankton, and salamanders? 2) What proportion of nutrient demand by algae and other microbes is supplied by the focal guild of detritivorous caddisflies versus other pond animals?

The REU will work with a diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and PIs from North Carolina State University (www.bradwtaylor.com), other universities, and will be immersed in a vibrant research and education community at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (see www.rmbl.edu). The position requires spending 8-10 weeks (mid-May to mid August) at this rustic and remote but premier high-elevation (3000 m) field station near Crested Butte, Colorado. The ideal applicant should demonstrate interest and experience in field ecology as well as experience or willingness to master meticulous analytical chemical analyses. Applicants should also be comfortable working in remote field settings that can have rapidly changing weather conditions, and that includes hiking 1-2 h to 3400 m elevation study sites. Preference will also be given to applicants who present a plan to work on writing and analyses as part of an independent study or senior thesis for eventual publication beyond the summer. The REU will have some flexibility to develop additional questions and hypotheses for which they will receive mentoring assistance with methods, data and chemical analyses, and writing.

Send a resume, 1-page statement of current and future scientific interests and experiences, and names and contact information for 3 references included in one PDF file to Brad Taylor: brad.taylor@ncsu.edu by 10 March 2018. A commitment by 25 March 2018 is required.


Postdoctoral scholars

We are seeking a postdoctoral scholar to join our lab group!  The postdoctoral scholar will conduct experimental and observational studies exploring how shifts in stream algal communities, such as those associated with stalk production by the diatoms  Didymosphenia and Cymbella, impact stream invertebrate secondary production and the flow energy to fish and terrestrial consumers of stream insects.  The focus of this postdoctoral project builds on a diversity of observational and experimental data showing how excessive stalk production, or blooms, of Didymosphenia geminata differentially impact stream invertebrate densities and growth rates with no impact on invertebrate biomass. Blooms increase invertebrate densities by shifting species dominance to smaller-bodied chironomids that also have higher growth rates and reduce mortality from predators in the presence of D. geminata blooms. Thus several interesting competing hypotheses have emerged from our previous work as to how blooms could alter invertebrate secondary production and the flux of energy and other resources to fish and terrestrial riparian consumers, such as the American Dipper, spiders, or hummingbirds.  Moreover, these effects are not restricted to Didymo blooms as other stalk producing diatoms (e.g., Cymbella) are forming blooms worldwide.  The postdoc will also have freedom to develop related side projects so long as the primary goals of the project have been completed.  Apply at http://jobs.ncsu.edu enter position number “PG170060PD” in the keyword field.


Graduate students

The Taylor Lab is seeking a M.S. or Ph.D. student!  Please contact me in advance before submitting your application.  In your email please include a cover letter that describes your interests and why you are a good fit to the lab, and a CV with relevant experience, GRE scores, and the names of 2-3- references.  For optimal consideration please apply before December 15.


Undergraduate students

We are always seeking undergraduate students interested in developing independent research projects that are related in some way (distant or near) to our focal research areas.  Please contact me if your are interested in developing an independent research project.


Research assistants

Beginning in June 2018, I will be hiring 1-2 full-time field research assistant to assist with research projects at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colorado (www.rmbl.org).  These positions require spending 2-4 months at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.  Check it out at the link above.  It is not a bad place to be from June to September!  Please email me if you are interested and I will send you a formal application.