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M.S. positions at Nicholls State University

Graduate Student and Postdoc Positions
Posted: 3/09/2017
Expiration Date: 3/28/2017

Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana

Graduate Assistantships

Salary: $4500 per semester plus tuition waiver


Two Teaching Assistantships and one Graduate Fellowship will be available for the Fall 2017 semester for the Master of Science in Marine and Environmental Biology program at Nicholls State University. Teaching Assistantships include tuition wavier and stipend of $4500 a semester. Graduate Fellowship includes tuition wavier and stipend of $18,000 a year. For more information about the program visit http://www.nicholls.edu/biology_graduate/. Some potential research projects associated with the positions are listed below:

Dr. Chris Bonvillain (chris.bonvillain@nicholls.edu): The successful applicant will conduct a field research project that examines the distribution, population status, and habitat requirements for Louisiana crayfishes with emphasis on species of concern. This is a field intense project that includes habitat assessments and multiple active and passive capture techniques including traps, seines, and backpack electrofishing. The applicant should have previous field experience working in stream ecosystems. Previous experience working with crayfish is highly desirable.

Dr. Raj Boopathy: (two projects listed below or email ramaraj.boopathy@nicholls.edu)
1. Bioaugmentation of Microbes to Restore Coastal Wetland Plants to Protect Land from Coastal Erosion: The purpose of this study is to enhance the growth of S. alterniflora, through bioaugmentation process by adding natural bacterial amendments to the soil. S. alterniflora is a facultative halophyte that dominates intertidal coastal marshes along the Atlantic coast to Louisiana and Texas. It is a perennial grass that can reach up to 2.5 meters with the shorter form in higher areas less affected by tidal events. Bacterial consortia similar to those found in wild plants may harbor unique microbial communities, which can potentially be used as a biofertilizer for the production of restoration plants. Biofertilizers could potentially improve restoration efforts by producing healthier plants that would also increase soil health by introducing beneficial microbial communities to the restoration area thereby stabilizing the area. The major goal of this study is to test the effects of PGPR treatments on greenhouse raised S. alterniflora by measuring nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil and plant growth over the duration of the experiment.
2. Presence of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Coastal Waters of Louisiana: Louisiana is known as “Sportsman’s Paradise”, and has over 300,000 registered boats, with approx. 41,500 of these belonging to southeast Louisiana. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and boating are economically important to Louisiana and with so much physical interaction with the waterways and bayous, water quality becomes a major concern. There are various ways in which water can become polluted and fecal content in aquatic environments can increase, such as agricultural and storm runoff, the waste of animals, and human sewage. In southeast Louisiana, most of the rural households is responsible for their own septic systems to treat the wastewater. These systems are effective but require maintenance, are costly, and if not taken care of properly, can lead to water pollution. When waste is improperly disposed, the risk of antibiotic resistance increases. The purpose of this research is to test antibiotic resistance in three coastal waters of southeast Louisiana, which has not been studied before. The results of this project will provide information on the extent of the ARB and ARG problems in Coastal Louisiana.

Dr. Raj Nathaniel (rajkumar.nathaniel@nicholls.edu): Current projects include (1) Examining the impact of bacteriophage therapy in an aquaculture setting on the production of biofilm and on lytic toxins. Bacteriophage therapy might alter quorum sensing and therefore has potential to be used to improve biofilm safety and as a control mechanism of toxin production during bacterial pathogen outbreaks. (2) Water quality along Bayou Lafourche to assess anthropogenic molecular markers as pointers for contamination. (3) Characterize antimicrobial peptides from marine and invertebrate animal immune systems.

Dr. Sean Graham (sean.graham@nicholls.edu): Multiple M.S. positions are available investigating (1) the long-term impacts of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on Louisiana salt marshes, (2) the impacts of coastal restoration on deltaic wetland sustainability, or (3) the long-term effects of eutrophication on soil carbon dynamics in low salinity coastal wetlands.


Admission requirements include: B.S. degree in science curriculum, minimum GPA of 3.0, and combined GRE (verbal + quantitative). Application procedure includes an online application and fee (http://www.nicholls.edu/apply/), and cover letter, CV, official GRE scores and academic transcripts, and departmental application package (http://www.nicholls.edu/biology_graduate/application-information/) including three letters of recommendation (forms included in departmental application).

Deadline for applying is March 28, 2017. Application materials and questions regarding the program should be sent to Dr. Aaron Pierce, P.O. Box 2021, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA 70310, 985-493-2628, aaron.pierce@nicholls.edu. See Graduate Faculty (http://www.nicholls.edu/biology-graduate/faculty/) for more information on faculty research interests.

Salary/Stipend: Students applying for positions in Dr. Graham’s lab will compete with other applicants for two department-sponsored Teaching Assistantships and one department-sponsored Graduate Fellowship that will be available beginning Fall 2017. Teaching Assistantships available through the Department include a tuition wavier and stipend of $4500 per semester, which Dr. Graham will supplement with an additional $9,000 per year from research funds ($18,000 per year total) for two years. The Graduate Fellowship available through the Department includes a tuition wavier and stipend of $18,000 per year for two years. For more information about the program visit http://www.nicholls.edu/biology_graduate/.


Contact Person: Aaron Pierce

Contact eMail: aaron.pierce@nicholls.edu

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