There are currently no specific openings for graduate students - please check back or contact a member of the core faculty in your area of interest.
Maine's Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), a partnership between the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine offers opportunities for cutting-edge interdisciplinary learning experiences at the graduate level, including 25 PhD research assistantships at the University of Maine. SSI is a $20 million, 5-year program funded by the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program.
Students with backgrounds in a wide range of disciplines are encouraged to apply: e.g., social sciences, biological, earth, and chemical sciences, natural resource management, communication, engineering, education, mathematics, and more. SSI’s mission is to create an integrative research program and strong stakeholder partnerships that generate improved solutions to intersecting ecological, social, and economic challenges in and beyond Maine.
Graduate students will be part of an integrated research program built on strong stakeholder partnerships and collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams focused on urbanization, forest ecosystem management, and climate change. These efforts address the dynamics of social-ecological systems with an emphasis on moving from knowledge to action.
At least 25 Ph.D. research assistantships will be awarded by Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative; 15 people began in 2010 and 10 positions will be open in 2011 and 2012. These positions may provide up to five years of support for students, and will include a stipend of $22,500/yr, a tuition waiver, subsidy for health insurance, and funds to support dissertation research.
Students interested in sustainability science research and study options can follow one or more of the following paths:
- Check for any specific openings for which applications are being solicited. Click here for our current listing.
- Contact a member of the core faculty whose research area is of interest.
If your interests align closely with one of the faculty members listed, you should contact one (or several) of these people to express your interest, describe your background, and determine if they might be willing to guide you through the application process. For example, together you might be able to outline an avenue of research that would fit your common interests and contribute to an on-going or planned research project.
- Contact the team leader of any of the on-going research teams.
Many research projects are being pursued by interdisciplinary teams and the project list will be updated as more are approved for funding. All students will eventually work with one of these teams, but if at this stage you can identify one or two teams that seem especially close to your interests, you should contact the team leader to discuss what you might be able to bring to the team. Your chance of a successful application would be enhanced if it were clear how you could strengthen a team’s capacity.
- Contact the Doctoral Assistantship Coordinator (Malcolm Hunter) to help identify appropriate faculty and projects if you need assistance. You should also contact the Coordinator if you are interested in pursuing a relatively independent program.
- For masters level opportunities in sustainability and community planning at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service see www.muskie.usm.maine.edu or contact Professor Charles Colgan.
Research assistantship recipients can pursue a variety of traditional degrees: Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Communication, Civil Engineering, Forest Resources, Wildlife Ecology, Biological Sciences, Higher Education, and others. In addition, SSI is in the process of developing a new interdisciplinary degree in Sustainability Science.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What degree should I apply for?
We have one interdepartmental degree, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, that provides a broad umbrella under which almost all SSI students, including those in the social sciences, could fit. Another good choice may be a degree offered by the department of your prospective advisor: graduate degrees at UMaine. The UMaine SSI assistantships are for Ph.D. degrees but there are opportunities for master’s programs at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.
- What will my responsibilities be as an SSI research assistant?
As a SSI Research Assistant, your primary responsibility will be to undertake a dissertation research project that is part of a larger team research project. That said, there is likely to be some general work associated with being a participant in SSI, for example, helping to host visiting speakers and prospective students. We also expect SSI assistants to be active in SSI events: attending seminars, team meetings, and so on. You may also have some responsibilities associated with your departmental home.
- What courses will I need to take?
This varies considerably with the degree for which you register and of course depends on your previous course work and career goals. A tentative plan of courses should be developed with your advisor and advisory committee by the end of your first semester. SSI will offer some seminar courses on sustainability science and we expect SSI fellows will participate in at least one of these.
- Will I be expected to teach?
SSI has no expectations with respect to teaching, but some degree programs do require that you have teaching experience. Students interested in a career in academics should seek teaching opportunities, such as replacing a faculty member on sabbatical.
- Will I have an office?
Most SSI assistants will have office space in their home department. Some may have offices in the Mitchell Center which is located in Norman Smith Hall.
- How many years may I retain an assistantship?
Current funding will cover up to four years and we expect most students to finish within this time frame. Additional support might be possible but this will require ample justification and finding funds from other sources. Assistantships will be renewed on an annual basis and failure to meet the terms of the position could lead to dismissal.
- What are the minimum requirements for GPAs and GREs?
We have no cutoff numbers for awarding assistantships, but candidates with relatively low numbers will need to have applications that are commensurately stronger in other respects, especially with respect to research experience and publications.
- Do I have to submit GRE scores?
The SSI assistantships will not require GREs per se but most UMaine graduate degree programs do. Exceptions are uncommon and dependent on the particular degree program in which you proposed to enroll. Here is the Grad School language:
In limited cases, Graduate Record Examination scores may not be required for admission to certain doctoral programs for those students who hold a recent master’s degree from an accredited university. It is essential that applicants contact the department of intended study to determine specific program requirements.
SSI student Erin Quigley
Quick Links for Prospective Students
SSI Core Faculty List
SSI Research Projects & Team Leaders
Doctoral Fellowship Coordinator (Malcolm Hunter)
Frequently Asked Questions