Graduate Students

I am currently recruiting Ph.D. students through the Biological Sciences Graduate Program at Clemson University to begin Fall 2024. Clemson's admissions deadline is in early December. The application requirements can be found here (GRE not required). Clemson is a public land-grant R1 Research University located in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest South Carolina, a biodiversity hotspot. It is within ~2 hours of Asheville, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC and ~40 minutes from Greenville, SC. I plan to accept most students via 'direct admit' (i.e., I commit to taking on a student before they apply to the program), but will also consider rotation students in the Biological Sciences Program on a case-by-case basis. Students will be fully supported through a combination of teaching and research assistantships, though will also be encouraged to apply for independent fellowships, such as the NSF GRFP and NASA FINESST. I am looking to build a team of people with a diverse set of life experiences. Applicants from historically underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

I am interested in taking on students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including but not limited to ecology, ornithology, remote sensing, statistics, computer science, and applied mathematics. Because research in the lab generally involves a substantial quantitative component, a strong background in this area is helpful. However, these skills can be developed and bolstered over the course of a Ph.D. The most important prerequisite is a strong motivation to learn. My research often uses existing data resources in novel ways, or builds upon logistical frameworks already in place to collect data in the field. While some students in the lab may decide to conduct fieldwork, there is a strong emphasis in the lab on the computational aspect of ecological research. Any student interested in the lab should familiarize themselves with my research and publications to get a sense for how their interests fit into this work.

What can one expect as a graduate student in the lab?
I intend to guide students in their research and in their careers, while encouraging them to explore their independent interests. My goal as a mentor is ultimately to foster an environment that leaves students feeling safe, confident, and empowered in their abilities as both scientists and critical thinkers. I believe in structured goal-setting, in the clear communication of expectations (of both the mentor and mentee), and developing a work-life balance. Students admitted to the lab can expect to receive rigorous training in ecology, data science, science communication, and project management. While many students may go on to work as ecologists in academia, the government, or at non-governmental organizations, others may choose to pursue careers in data science, policy, or something different entirely. I fully support this diverse set of career paths as a graduate advisor. I plan to work with students to determine what their primary research interests and long-term career goals are, and to develop a plan of action to achieve these goals.

What is expected of graduate students in the lab?
I expect students to have a can-do attitude and contribute to a respectful, vibrant, collaborative atmosphere in the lab. I expect students to view a Ph.D. as an opportunity to develop a set of skills and to contribute to the larger scientific community’s understanding of natural systems. As an advisor, I intend to help students find their path and to develop strategies to overcome any and all obstacles that they encounter. However, a Ph.D. is also a personal journey, and students must take ownership of their experience. I expect students to take advantage of expertise in the lab and the University more generally, to identify opportunities for training and personal development, and to be accountable for commitments over the entirety of their graduate career.

How does one apply?
If you are interested in joining the lab, please email the below materials to Casey Youngflesh. If it seems like you would be a good fit for the lab, I will be in touch to schedule a Zoom interview. I look forward to hearing from you!

In your email please send:

  • A short (<1 page) cover letter that conveys who you are, why you are interested in joining the lab, what kind of research you hope to do in graduate school, and your short- and long-term career goals.
  • A writing sample that demonstrates your ability to synthesize information (e.g., scientific paper, thesis, class project).
  • A CV that summarizes your work and academic experience.

Postdoctoral Researchers

I am currently recruiting a Postdoctoral Researcher to work on an ongoing project focused on understanding the drivers of avian biodiversity, with a particular focus on the interplay between diversity within and among species. This project will integrate multiple large-scale datasets from across the Americas, taking an integrative, ecoinformatic approach. The successful candidate will be expected to build analytical pipelines and statistical models to explore ecological questions of interest, lead and collaborate on manuscripts, and assist in proposal development. Opportunities exist to develop and pursue additional areas of research. A strong quantitative background is required, including substantial experience using R and/or Python and expertise in hierarchical Bayesian modeling. Previous experience with Git, Bash, High Performance Computing, and Stan is helpful but not required. Start date will be any time between February and June 2024. This position is for 2 years, with annual reappointment and potential for a third year. Interested applicants should email the below materials to Casey Youngflesh.

In your email please send:

  • A short (<1 page cover) that conveys who you are, why you are interested in joining the lab, and why you are a good fit for the position.
  • A CV that summarizes your work and academic experience.

Additional Postdoc and/or Data Scientist positions focused on research related to the development of a satellite-enabled monitoring framework for animals, phenological change, and population dynamics may also become available in the near future. In addition to the skills listed above, expertise in deep learning, particularly using PyTorch, is desired.

I am also always happy to host postdocs with independent funding and to assist with the development of proposals for postdoctoral fellowships. Examples of some independent fellowships include:

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