Kicking off a great year!

The Damschen Lab had a great summer doing research in Wisconsin prairies and Southeastern longleaf pine savannas. We collected piles of data that will now be entered and analyzed. Can’t wait to see what we learn!

We are excited to welcome new graduate student, Katherine Charton, who brings a wealth of experience in plant ecology from Florida to California. It is great to have her join our team!

Our lab is filled with amazing undergraduates who help make things run smoothly and conduct their own independent research. We are grateful for all their contributions over the summer and excited to see what discoveries they make this year. Thanks especially to Sam Ahler for being an amazing leader!

Excited to receive NSF funding to ask how disturbance regimes and winter climate change interact

Our lab was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to work on the interaction between disturbance regimes (by fire) and winter climate change on grassland and savanna plant communities in Wisconsin. We are combining long-term observations of community change across the state of Wisconsin with controlled field experiments to determine the past and future impacts of winter climate change (see winter climate change page for further details). We will also be asking how to improve undergraduate student learning related to these topics and minimize the achievement gap.

Lead undergraduate research technician

The Damschen Lab is looking for a motivated, organized, and enthusiastic undergraduate science major with an interest in botany, ecology, or conservation biology to fill a paid Lead Undergraduate Research Technician opening. We are looking for an undergraduate who is an excellent leader and can work ~8-10 hours/week during the Spring 2019 semester and full time during Summer 2019 with potential to continue part time for the 2019-2020 school year. Applications will being to be considered on  November 26, 2018 until position is filled. Complete details on the position and how to apply can be found here: Damschen Lab Research Technician Position Information

Seeking Ph.D. students for fall 2019

Damschen Lab Ph.D. Position in Plant Community Dynamics and Climate Change

The Damschen Plant Community Ecology Lab in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is accepting applications for a Ph.D. student position that will start in fall 2019. Our lab seeks to understand the impact of local and regional processes on plant community composition and diversity within the context of global change impacts and potential conservation and restoration solutions. Our research lies at the interaction of basic and applied community ecology, using long-term datasets and large-scale experiments to test basic theory with relevance to applied conservation management. While we work across ecosystem types, we focus on fire-maintained grasslands and savannas. More information about our research group can be found here:

Outstanding Ph.D. student applicants with research interests that match with any of the overarching themes of our lab are encouraged to apply. In particular, students interested in how disturbance regimes interact with climate change to affect plant communities are encouraged to apply. We have recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to determine how disturbance by fire affects grassland and savanna plant community responses to winter climate change in Wisconsin and would like to accept one student to work on a thematically related dissertation project.

Qualified applicants should have a strong background in ecology and evolution and experience identifying and sampling plant communities. Students who have a background in statistics, are willing to develop their quantitative skills, and have programming experience using R are preferred. Strong writing, communication, collaboration, and mentoring skills are also required. The position will be funded by research and/or teaching assistantships.

To apply, contact Dr. Ellen Damschen several weeks before the application deadline at with a CV or resume, undergraduate GPA, GRE scores and percentiles, and a brief description of research background, interests, and how they may fit with the broader research in the Damschen Lab. This will allow time to assess whether your research interests fit with our research group before submitting an official application. We value diversity and encourage students from underrepresented groups to apply. Official applications to our graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are due December 1, 2018. Instructions on how to apply can be found on our departmental webpage at Please indicate in your application that you are interested in applying to the Damschen Lab. Note that our departmental graduate program name is “Zoology”, but this is a broad program that does not place limits on the taxonomic scope of questions being pursued (plant ecologists welcome!). The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a strong program and rich history in ecological and conservation science. More about ecology at UW-Madison can be found at

A pdf version of this information can be found here.

Former undergraduate, Shannon Grover, receives best ecological paper award

Former undergraduate researcher, Shannon Grover, has just received the 2017 Richard and Minnie Windler Award for Ecology for the best ecological paper in the journal Castanea. Shannon published the paper, “Indirect Effects of Landscape Spatial Structure and Plant Species Richness on Pollinator Diversity in Ozark Glades,” based on the findings from her undergraduate research project in our lab with former Ph.D. student, Jesse Miller. Congratulations Shannon!

The paper can be found at: