We are looking for a motivated PhD student to help investigate
pollinator ecology, pollination services, and social-ecological
variables that might affect urban agriculture as part of NSF funded
research (see details in abstract below) at the University of Illinois
at Chicago. For the first two years, the student will be supported
partially on a research assistantship and partially on a teaching
assistantship. The successful candidate will have the ability to
influence the future direction of this research and help develop
proposals for additional funding. Applicants should be available to
start in June of 2012 and have the following qualifications:
A B.S. degree completed by spring 2012. A master's degree is
preferred but not necessary. Previous course work in ecology and some
undergraduate (or graduate) research experience is mandatory.
A strong interest in urban ecology, urban agriculture, and urban
Comfort working in heavily populated neighborhoods and interacting
with neighborhood residents of diverse backgrounds
A valid U.S. driver’s license
Previous experience is preferred, but not required, in the following areas
working with bees and other insects
work with pollination biology
digital photography (ideally of insects or plants)
use of GIS and statistical analysis
driving around a large city
Interested students should apply to the UIC Department of Biological
Sciences, Ecology and Evolution group
for fall 2012
admission. Prior to submitting an application, please email a letter
of intent and your CV to Emily Minor at eminor@.... In your
letter, please highlight how you meet the qualifications listed above.
Urban agriculture is increasing in the United States, with vegetables
and fruits often grown in private and community gardens as well as
larger tracts of vacant land. These small-scale agricultural efforts
may contribute to urban sustainability and can provide food security
for those living in low-income inner city neighborhoods with limited
access to fresh produce. Despite the potential social, nutritional,
and ecological benefits of urban agriculture, little is known about
the pollination services that support such efforts. Many crops grown
in urban gardens benefit from or are dependent on pollination by
insects, especially bees. However, while studies have found some bees
to be prevalent in florally-diverse urban habitats, bee diversity or
abundance also has been shown to decrease with increasing
urbanization. Therefore, pollinator communities may vary across the
urban landscape due to local management of floral resources (e.g.,
flower plantings along city blocks) as well as development intensity
at larger spatial scales; these factors may then influence pollination
services across the urban landscape. To determine how pollination
services are distributed across the urban landscape, this research
will (a) evaluate changes in pollinators and their response to floral
resources across a gradient of urban development, and (b) determine
how these biotic changes affect the consistency and magnitude of
pollination services. The research will take place in Chicago, IL, the
third largest city in the United States. In addition to sampling
pollinator communities, this study will use an experimental “mobile
garden” on the back of a pick-up truck to directly quantify
pollination services across the city.
An assessment of pollination services in cities will increase
understanding of the potential sustainability of urban ecosystems.
This knowledge can be applied to increasing yield in urban
agriculture, potentially contributing to food security in densely
populated neighborhoods. This project will train undergraduate and
graduate students through participation in research and educate
Chicago residents about the importance of pollinators. Finally, the
research will inform urban planners about the ecological attributes—at
both neighborhood-block and landscape scales—that affect the ecosystem
service of pollination.
Kevin C. Matteson, Ph.D.
Assistant Visiting Research Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago
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