Cornell University is a private institution that was founded in 1865. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,503 (fall 2021), its setting is rural, and the campus size is 745 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Cornell University’s ranking in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, 17.

Background: Pollinators are declining globally largely due to land-cover change and land management practices. New York’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Benefit Act includes goals for 70% renewable energy by 2030 and an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; these targets largely will be met with solar energy. Scientific knowledge of interactions between solar energy development and pollinators is lacking.

The Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office recently awarded funding to conduct research on pollinators and solar energy developing, using conventional and eDNA sampling methods. Collaborative research will be conducted in several regions of the country, including the Northeast, Southeast, southern Texas, the Midwest, and Oregon across a newly created National Pollinator-Solar Energy Monitoring and Network.

Description: We seek a PhD student for this collaborative research project. The PhD student will be jointly housed in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Department of Entomology at Cornell University. The PhD student will conduct conventional pollinator sampling and pollinator eDNA sampling methods at solar facilities throughout New York State for 3 years during late spring and summer. The PhD student will assist with identification of target pollinator taxa in coordination with taxonomists at Cornell University and the USDA. The PhD student will conduct analyses to determine effects of site preparation, restoration practices, operations and maintenance, and surrounding land use and land cover at multiple spatial scales on pollinator communities.

The PhD student also will validate eDNA methods for pollinator community characteristic at solar facilities, using results from conventional sampling in New York. The PhD student will be expected to conduct quality, applied ecological research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, contribute to a team of creative, interdisciplinary researchers, and aid in the writing of progress and final reports submitted to the DOE. This position comes with a highly competitive, annual 12-month salary and full support in the forms of tuition remission and student health insurance.

Mentors: Dr. Steve Grodsky — U.S. Geological Survey New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Assistant Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University; and Dr. Scott McArt — Dept. of Entomology, Cornell University


  • Master’s degree in entomology, ecology, or related field
  • Proven capacity to publish peer-reviewed publications
  • Capacity to generate novel research questions
  • Experience sampling pollinators and conducting fieldwork
  • Ability to identify pollinator species
  • Working knowledge of statistical analyses and software

How to apply:

Applicants are to send a single PDF containing: 1) cover letter; and 2) CV, to Dr. Steve Grodsky ( Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis; we encourage applicants to submit their materials promptly. Selected candidates will be required to apply for admission to the Department of Entomology’s Graduate Program at Cornell University.

Last Date to Apply: 11/28/2022

Salary ~44k/year. Start Date 05/21/2023

Contact Person Dr. Steve Grodsky, Contact eMail

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