PhD Position in Quantitative Invasion Biology

Is spotted lanternfly the worst invasive species ever? Apply to iEcoLab to find out

Spotted lanternfly is an invasive Asian planthopper that was discovered in 2014 near Philadelphia USA. It has since spread to five states. It hitchhikes on cars and it lays eggs on anything flat kept outdoors like lawn furniture and landscaping stone. It has a voracious appetite for maples, apples, hops, and grapes. Invaded vineyards have lost entire crops, affecting wine production. We are just beginning to understand its pattern of spread and potential to disrupt agricultural and natural ecosystems. Billions of dollars are under threat. You can be at the forefront of research on this emerging invasion.

The Ph.D. graduate student position on spotted lanternfly is with Dr. Matthew Helmus at the Temple University Center for Biodiversity for Fall 2020. Dr. Helmus jointly runs the Integrative Ecology Lab (iEcoLab) with the mission to integrate biodiversity science with human ecology to understand contemporary patterns of biodiversity and its functioning within ecosystems. To read more about the spotted lanternfly research see

The student will be able to pursue their own interests when researching spotted lanternfly. Dissertation topics could include rapid evolution in response to enemy release and biocontrol, density dependent plant-host switching, the dynamics of economic impacts, and predictive modeling of spread. The student will learn cutting-edge computation and field/lab skills while working within an interdisciplinary team of academics, government agencies and public stakeholders. Potential skills provided by this position include:

– Data science expertise
– Fieldwork in forested and agricultural ecosystems
– Lab and field experimentation
– Statistical programming
– GIS analyses
– Public outreach and press communication

Applicants must have prior research experience and a bachelors and/or masters degree in biology, environmental science, or other related fields. Ideal applicants are those with experience in entomology, ecology, and statistics; but most importantly, the successful applicant will be well-organized, able to work both independently and in a team setting, and motivated to learn. This position is ideal for those craving a career in the exciting, fast-paced world of biodiversity science.

Interested applicants should email Dr. Helmus before November 1st (
Include in the email:

– Statement of interest that outlines your qualifications and why you are interested in the position
– Questions and ideas you have about spotted lanternfly research
– Curriculum vitae
– Unofficial transcripts (both undergraduate and graduate)

iEcolLab is in a new LEED-Gold sustainability certified building in historic Philadelphia. The Center for Biodiversity provides state-of-the-art biodiversity research facilities along with support staff with expertise in media development, GIS technology, high-performance computing, and genetics. Temple University, founded in 1884, is a public R1 university with a diverse student body of ca. 40,000 students. It is the sixth-largest provider of graduate school education in the U.S.A., is within the top 4% of research institutions in the U.S.A., and is in the top ten of the fastest gainers in ranking by the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the U.S.A., filled with numerous attractions (e.g., Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, Academy of Natural Sciences), amazing food, and a quick train ride to New York City and Washington DC. Philadelphia is nestled within an extensive national/state trail and park system and is very close to Valley Forge National Park, the Pocono Mountains, the unique Pine Barren ecosystem, and the beaches of the Atlantic shore.

Temple University is an equal opportunity, equal access, affirmative action employer committed to achieving a diverse community. iEcoLab believes the crisis in biological diversity can only be addressed by scientists from diverse backgrounds and with diverse viewpoints. iEcoLab strongly encourages applications from students with diverse backgrounds.

For more information see:

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