Season 03 (Academia) | Ep 01 | Graduate Research Assistant, Jesse Cone

Life as a forestry student solving sustainability one study at a time

The latest episode of Conversations with a Wannabe Scientist is now LIVE on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podbean!

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Season 03 (Academia) | Ep 01 | Graduate Research Assistant, Jesse Cone

In this episode, our host Nicole Felts interviews Jesse Cone, an M.S. graduate research assistant at Louisiana Tech University. Jesse researches loblolly pine response to drought, which has immediate implications for sustainability.

Jesse has already procured a position post-grad with the U.S. Forest Service in the Tahoe National Forest. Tune in to the interview to hear his advice for how to establish your scientific career!

Join us as we explore how research in academia informs sustainability decisions on multiple scales.

Below are two photos of Jesse’s work in the field.

Trench with shovel

Throughfall exclusion shelter, to simulate drought conditions

In this episode, Jesse shares with us…

  • What day to day work looks like as a graduate assistant

  • How forestry materials sequester carbon and promote sustainability

  • Why plant conservation and forestry is a cornerstone to stopping climate change

  • His story as a vegetarian, and how that influenced his work

  • His perspective on conservation work

  • How to get your dream job in science!

Jesse and Nicole share their wisdom about

  • The value of networking for future opportunities

  • Taking advantage of resources as student workers

  • Pragmatic decision making from undergraduate to graduate studies

  • How capitalism informs science

  • Challenges and rewards of fieldwork and research

  • Ethical implications for different types of research

  • The importance of work-life balance!

Tune In Now!

Connect with Jesse

Jesse’s Twitter

Jesse’s LinkedIn

Check out the 21st Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference where Jesse’s thesis presentation won an award

Article about Jesse from Louisiana Tech University

Drought tolerance may be the key to future wood production by Jesse Cone

Resources Jesse mentioned

Purdue University - where Jesse did research work

U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Science

Nicole mistakenly said this paper that was heavily criticized about tree planting was published in the journal Nature; the paper was published in the journal Science. (Timestamp: 20 minutes, 21 seconds)

Job Resources


  • Great opportunities for recent graduates to gain experience (Undergraduate, graduate, post-doc, etc.) Here’s an example of a unique opportunity

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Job Board

  • A conservation job board that has tons of opportunities in wildlife and plant science ( entry-level positions, graduate opportunities, and advanced positions)

USA Job Board

Inside HigherEd Careers

  • Job board specifically for academia (graduate opportunities, research assistant positions, and faculty positions)

Thanks for tuning in! Stay tuned for new episodes every two weeks!

Special thanks to our amazing volunteer team

Brooke Christiansen, Website manager/ designer & podcast logo creator

Stacey Davies, Podcast editor & sound designer

Paula Lee, Podcast assistant & show note designer

Nicole Felts, Podcast host/ producer & project manager 


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