Master’s Assistantship Available in Chestnut Fruit Pathology

Published by Cori VanGalder on

Master's Assistantship Available in Chestnut Fruit Pathology

The Forest Pathology Lab at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) is accepting applications for a graduate student (Master’s level). Ideally the candidate will enroll for the Fall 2019 semester and be available to start research for summer 2019, but the start time is flexible. We are looking for a highly-motivated individual to study the diversity and virulence of Gnomoniopsis spp. that cause brown rot on chestnut fruit. Brown rot caused by Gnomoniopsis smithogilvyi has emerged as a major fungal disease of chestnut fruit affecting European chestnut (Castanea sativa) and hybrid orchard trees (C. crenatax C. sativa) in Italy, Switzerland, France, India, Australia, New Zealand and USA. The candidate will determine the temporal variation of brown rot in nuts prior to and after harvest. Identify the Gnomoniopsisspp. colonizing nuts in Michigan and evaluate their virulence on multiple chestnut cultivars. The candidate will be trained in techniques such as microscopy, culture work, field work, DNA extractions, PCR, and sequencing. The candidate will be part of a larger project focused on the management and treatment of post-harvest diseases of chestnut in Michigan. For further information on the Forest Pathology lab please go to the following web link: For further information on chestnuts in Michigan please go to For a recent publication from our lab please click on the following link.

The candidate should:

  • Have an BSc and experience and interest in tree and/or fruit pathogens. Applicants must have a degree in a relevant area, including plant pathology, forestry, mycology, genomics, bioinformatics, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, botany, or other biological sciences.
  • Be self-motivated, have strong interpersonal skills and be capable of working in a multidisciplinary team.
  • Be able to perform experiments independently and write scientific publications and other documents.
  • Have excellent communication, reading, and writing skills in English.
  • Hold a valid driver’s license.

Applicants with prior laboratory experience are encouraged to apply. The selected candidate must meet eligibility requirements for work in the U.S. by the start date. Additionally, candidates need to meet the minimum requirements outlined by Michigan State University’s Graduate program, found here:

The Graduate student will have the option of a degree from either the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences or the Department of Forestry, depending on their interests. Additional fellowship opportunities for graduate students at Michigan State University are also available. 

The Master’s student will be supported for two years. Additional funding for an additional year will be dependent on satisfactory performance of the student. Assistantships include:

  • A bi-weekly stipend, determined by prior experience and education levels. 
  • A tuition waiver of up to nine credits per semester fall and spring and five credits during the summer with out-of-state tuition waiver for students who take more than the covered number of credits each semester
  • Enrollment in the University’s graduate health insurance plan

To apply, please first contact Dr. Monique Sakalidis via email at sakalidi@msu.eduwith any questions. Please also include a short statement of interest, your CV and the contact details of three references. To be accepted into the graduate program, potential students must apply through the MSU Graduate School at When applying, please indicate an interest in the Forest Pathology Graduate Assistantships in the required Statement of Interests. Applications must be received by April 30, 2019 to receive full consideration.

Specific information regarding the Plant pathology graduate program please see

Specific information regarding the Forestry graduate program can be found at

Michigan State University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.  The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences and the Department of Forestry are committed to promoting diversity in research.  We thank all applicants, but only those selected will be contacted.


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