[Taxacom] Graduate research assistantships in parasitoid systematics and ecology (repeat posting)

James Whitfield jwhitfie at life.uiuc.edu
Mon Dec 15 13:19:27 CST 2008

Systematic Entomology Graduate Research Assistantships for Summer/Fall 2009

Two graduate student assistantships are available for students 
interested in one or more areas of ecological, systematic and 
evolutionary research on parasitoid wasps and their associated 
mutualistic viruses. Topics include molecular phylogenetics of several 
groups of braconid wasps, comparative analysis of the roles 
polydnaviruses play in host specificity and diversification of the 
wasps, and descriptive taxonomy and diversity studies of wasps. Research 
currently and recently undertaken in the laboratory is described at 

Several currently funded options available (other related projects are 

• A student interested in phylogenomics and bioinformatics will have 
comparative genomic information from polydnaviruses associated with a 
variety of closely related braconid parasitoid wasps, which are being 
studied phylogenetically. This information will be used to identify 
genes and genetic changes associated with host shifts undergone by the 
parasitoids. Work will be conducted in collaboration with the Mike 
Strand laboratory at the University of Georgia (funding from the USDA 
Microbial Genomes program).

• A student interested in biodiversity, systematics and ecology of 
tropical caterpillar parasitoids can be involved in large-scale 
Lepidoptera survey projects in Costa Rica and Ecuador. These projects 
involve synthesizing the taxonomic and ecological information from 
thousands of reared caterpillars and their parasitoids, much of the 
information new to science and characterizing faunas that were 
previously very poorly known. Work will be conducted in collaboration 
with several other laboratories at other institutions (funding from the 
NSF Biotic Surveys and Inventories program).

• A student interested in species-level taxonomy and molecular phylogeny 
of hyperdiverse insect groups can participate in a large Neotropical 
monographic study of the huge braconid genus Heterospilus, in 
collaboration with Dr. Paul Marsh, renowned authority on doryctine 
Braconidae, and postdoctoral associate Dr. Alex Wild (funding from NSF 
Revisionary Systematics program).

— Interested applicants may apply either through the Department of 
Entomology or the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology 
(PEEC) at the University of Illinois. Admissions information can be 
found on the relevant links at 
www.life.uiuc.edu/entomology/admissions.html and 
www.life.uiuc.edu/peeb/index.htm. Prospective candidates should have 
strong academic records and some research experience is preferred, 
either at the M. S. level or via undergraduate projects. The 
assistantships are suited to motivated, energetic students interested in 
scientific careers, who can work both independently and collaboratively, 
enjoy problem solving and are well organized. Review of applications 
will begin and continue until a candidate is selected.

Please send to Dr. James Whitfield (jwhitfie at life.uiuc.edu) via 
electronic pdf attachment: 1) a statement of interest, 2) a CV including 
GPA and GRE scores, research experience and research interests, and 3) 
the names and contact information for at least three referees familiar 
with your work.

Application deadline is 1 January 2009 or until suitable candidates are 

James B. Whitfield, Professor, Department of Entomology, University of 
Illinois, 320 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801

ofc ph. 217-333-2567, lab ph 217-333-2170


More information about the Taxacom mailing list