The Koop lab at Northern Illinois University is recruiting PhD graduate students for Spring 2024
interested in studying parasite evolution.
Two Ph.D. Graduate Student Assistantships are available in the Koop Lab at Northern Illinois University to conduct research aimed at understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of species invasions. Students will study the invasive freshwater faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata), which has invaded the Great Lakes region and Upper Mississippi River.

The snail acts as a host to several species of parasitic trematodes, which can infect waterfowl, often causing high mortality. Ongoing projects with this system include assessing the invasion history of both the snail and trematode species, understanding the role of local adaptation in determining virulence across a large geographic landscape, and examining sublethal effects of trematode infections on waterfowl, specifically Lesser Scaup.

This system is highly accessible and offers an incredible opportunity to explore diverse ecological and evolutionary questions related to epidemiology, behavior, genetics, and species interactions. To address these questions, we use an interdisciplinary approach of field-based ecological research, lab experiments, and population genomics. Students will have the choice to work on any number of ongoing projects in the lab in addition to developing their own projects and research interests.

Qualifications: M.S. in biology, wildlife, ecology, evolution, or environmental sciences preferred but not required. Experience in invertebrate biology, field biology, population genetics/genomics, and analytical software such as R, are especially encouraged to apply. Ideal candidates will possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, a strong work ethic, and the ability to work independently and as a team. Expected start date will be spring semester 2024 (January 15, 2024).
Application: Initial inquiries should be directed to Dr. Jennifer Koop (  and should include your CV and a brief description of your research experience and interests. Applications to the program are due Nov. 1, 2023, but should not be submitted until after an initial inquiry has been made.

Northern Illinois University is a public research university located in DeKalb, Illinois, an affordable and growing community that is a commutable distance from Chicago and Rockford metropolitan areas. Our 16,000+ student body is diverse, with many first-generation and racially and culturally diverse students. Recently, NIU was nationally recognized as a top college for diversity and LGBTQ+ students, and has been named one of the Great Colleges to Work For two years in a row.

Biological Sciences is one of the largest majors on campus and our department has faculty and students pursuing dynamic research agendas including biomedical, microbial, pedagogical, developmental, evolutionary, and ecological questions. The proximity of DeKalb to Chicago provides easy access to Chicago’s research and technology corridor, the arts, and extensive nature preserves and parks.


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