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: 

Fall 2017 undergraduate opportunities

Each semester, our lab provides mentored research experiences for undergraduates. These often occur through Biology 151/152 independent projects or independent research course credit (Zoology 299 or 699). If you are interested in working in our lab for Fall 2017, please email Dr. Laura Ladwig (Damschen Lab Postdoc) at to determine if there are openings available and if there is a good match between your interests and the work in our lab. Please include the following in your email:

  • Name, campus address, phone number, and email
  • Year in school
  • Major and expected date of graduation
  • Course schedule in Microsoft Word grid format
  • Formal resume – include any previous lab experience
  • A statement indicating why you are interested in working in the Damschen Lab

Students must be self-motivated, able to work independently, keep open communication with other lab members about progress and problems, and seek creative solutions to challenges that arise. Basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel is helpful. We are especially interested in working with students who have career interests (or potential career interests) in ecology, botany, or related fields.

Papers, fieldwork, and more summer fun

This summer has been a wonderful chance to work together and celebrate projects coming to fruition.

New papers led by Jesse Miller on how different flowering guilds respond to landscape spatial structure and the relationship between plant and consumer richness in the Ozark glades are coming out. Wonderful group of undergraduates in the lab measuring gazillions of functional traits. Incredible team sampled long-term change in our plant community assembly and restoration plots across the southeast.

Saw amazing flora and fauna – including gopher tortoises and the largest mosquitoes we have ever seen.

Was wonderful to have the whole lab together in the southeast. Dill Pickle potato chips kept us going in 100+ F, humid conditions! And, we built an impromptu plant press out of cutting boards. We love field work!



Postdoc position in community assembly and restoration open

We have a new postdoc opening to study the assembly and limitations to recovery of longleaf pine understory plant communities. This project is in collaboration with John Orrock (University of Wisconsin) and Lars Brudvig (Michigan State University), and with funding from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP). Full application details here: serdp-postdoc-ad-2017