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Deadline April 19, 2024: Research Assistantships in Plant and Soil Microbial Ecology

Two people walking in the wilderness on a snow-filled path

Deadline to Apply

April 19, 2024, but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis


Summer 2024. Positions will begin in May or early June, depending on student interest and availability.


Research Assistantships in Plant & Soil Microbial Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University


Dr. Allison Simler-Williamson in the Department of Biological Sciences is recruiting enthusiastic undergraduate students for summer research assistantships, contributing to a project that examines how climate change may alter plant-microbe interactions in declining plant populations.

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation’s “Broadening Research Capacity in Biology” program. Undergraduate researchers will contribute to work that explores the role that soil fungi and bacteria play in shaping local adaptation in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) populations, including how climate change may disrupt existing plant-microbe interactions.

This work will involve opportunities to cultivate diverse laboratory, field, and programming skills that are relevant to careers in ecology, evolution, microbiology, soil science, and restoration, including:

  • Visualizing, manipulating, and quantifying bacteria and fungi in culture
  • DNA extraction & sample preparation for sequencing
  • Monitoring of plant populations in the greenhouse and field
  • Field collection of soils and plant material
  • Measurements of soil chemical and physical properties
  • Development of field, greenhouse, and/or growth chamber experiments
  • Data management and introduction to programming and statistical analysis in R
  • Communicating and presenting scientific research in written and oral formats

This project is a collaboration with Drs. Marie-Anne de Graaff, Leonora Bittleston, and Trevor Caughlin – research assistants may receive additional mentorship or training within these labs.


  • We specifically encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, including (but not limited to) people of any gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and neurotype.
  • We welcome applicants with limited past research experience who are interested in exploring careers in biological research.

We also encourage applicants who are:

  • interested in continued involvement via part-time assistantships during the 2024-25 school year;
  • interested in developing independent research projects related to this work.


30-40 hours/week for 8-12 weeks. Research assistants will earn $18/hr.

Desired qualifications

  • Currently enrolled as an undergraduate at Boise State.
  • An eagerness to learn new methods and explore new research questions.
  • Past coursework in ecology, biology, environmental science, soil science, plant biology, or a related field, and/or a strong interest in pursuing a career in biological sciences.
  • An ability to work independently, as well as part of a diverse collaborative team of faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff.
  • Strong verbal, interpersonal, and written communication skills.
  • Attention to detail, cleanliness, and thoughtfulness in your work.
  • Past research experience outside of coursework (via VIPs or paid positions) is welcome but optional.

Applicants will be evaluated based on how the opportunity supports their career goals, how their past coursework and scientific interests complement the position, and their demonstrated ability to conduct detailed work independently and in teams.

How to apply

Interested applicants should email Dr. Allison Simler-Williamson ( with the following documents before April 19, 2024, including “Summer Research Assistant Application” in the email subject:

  • a 0.5-1-page cover letter summarizing how the described position aligns with your career goals or what you would gain from this experience.
  • a resume or CV that describes relevant research experience, work experience, or coursework, based on the desired qualifications previously listed;
  • Contact details for 2 professional references (who will only be contacted following interviews).

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.