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PhD Position
North Dakota State University
Position Close date: 
Friday, March 20, 2020

A PhD position is available to study adaptive introgression in Poplar with Jill Hamilton at North Dakota State
University, as part of a new NSF Plant Genome-funded collaboration with Jason Holliday (Virginia Tech),
Stephen Keller (Vermont) and Matt Fitzpatrick (U of Maryland).
Understanding how interspecific hybridization leads to the generation of complex adaptive traits across
environments is a central objective of species management, particularly considering rapidly changing climates.
Natural Populus hybrid zones provide a ‘living laboratory’ to test the impact a long history of natural selection
and weak barriers to reproduction have had on the origins of adaptations and the maintenance of species
barriers. The graduate student will leverage replicate natural hybrid zone transects between Populus trichocarpa
and P. balsamifera across North America in conjunction with modern sequencing (whole-genome resequencing,
long and short reads), large common garden experiments, and novel computational approaches to study the
genomic and phenotypic consequences of hybridization across environments. Broadly this research will ask: (i)
how is introgression arrayed across the genome and landscape? and (ii) what regions of the genome contribute
to hybrid fitness and what are their environmental drivers? This project will enhance our understanding of the
relationship between adaptive introgression and fitness across environments.
The PhD student will be prepared to combine field-based research monitoring phenotypic trait variation across
replicated common garden experiments with genomic analyses (whole genome resequencing), and
environmental and spatial data. The ideal graduate student will have some experience in computational biology;
including population genomics and/or quantitative genetics. There is plenty of room to pursue particular
interests in adaptive introgression and the origin of species barriers depending on the interest and experience of
the candidate. The student will be involved in a range of outreach activities associated with the project,
including engaging with collaborator institutions and ArbNet (based at the Morton Arboretum, Chicago) to
develop educational modules on climate adaptation using Poplar mini gardens planted across the United States.
The ability to work independently and a strong background in genomics and computational skills are needed.
Some experience in quantitative genetics, genome-wide association analysis or previous experience using
environmental data to model species ranges is preferred.
For more information on the Hamilton Lab please visit the lab website at: More
information on the Department of Biological Sciences at NDSU can be found at
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.
For consideration, please send a cover letter summarizing your research interests and experience, a current CV,
and contact information for three references to Jill Hamilton ( with the email subject
line "PhD application: [your full name]".
This position is funded via the NSF-Plant Genome Research program and includes full tuition waiver plus
competitive stipend. Options are available for both US and international students. The start date is flexible with
a tentative start date of spring or fall 2020. Applications are being accepted now and the position will remain
open until filled.
Jill Hamilton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
North Dakota State University

How to apply: 
Email or visit