M.S. or Ph.D. Graduate Assistantship- Social and Ecological Aspects of Amphibian Conservation on Private Lands


The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech seeks to fill a M.S. or Ph.D. position focused on coupled sociological and ecological aspects of the conservation of an imperiled giant salamander.  The work will take place in Appalachian streams adjacent to agricultural and forested private lands. The student’s social science research will focus on private landowner attitudes and stewardship behaviors in Appalachia, how they relate to stream restoration and eastern hellbender conservation efforts, and the role of landowner interactions with conservation scientists in promoting changes in conservation behaviors.  The project will build upon our ongoing work using underwater nest boxes as a conservation and restoration tool.  The ecological aspect of the project offers flexibility, and can relate to the conservation physiology, reproductive ecology, and/or disease ecology of hellbenders under field conditions.  The successful candidate will work as part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists from several Universities and interact with diverse stakeholders including landowners in rural communities, and scientists from multiple state and federal agencies.

The successful candidate will be fully funded (tuition and stipend) on a combination of graduate research assistantships and graduate teaching assistantships. The candidate will be co-advised by Drs. William A. Hopkins and Ashley A. Dayer.

Qualifications:Applicants should have a strong interest and a prior degree in conservation biology, social sciences (preferably psychology, sociology, or communications), human dimensions, ecology or related discipline.  Applicants should have extensive past research experience (preferably social & ecological), an outstanding academic record and GRE scores, and evidence of strong writing and relevant methodological skills. Applicants must show an aptitude for interdisciplinary study and communication with non-scientific audiences; experience with landowner outreach or other extension or public education activities preferred.

Applicants for a M.S. position will have the option to transition to a Ph.D. position after meeting departmental criteria.  Applicants for a Ph.D. position must possess a M.S. degree and experience publishing their research.  Ph.D. applicants will be encouraged to enroll in the Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Graduate Program which provides additional training on the role of science in society, science-policy, and science communication.

Start date for the assistantship is May 2018.  Deadline for applications is January 22nd, 2018.  However, applications will be reviewed as they are received.

To apply, please email a single PDF file to Tara Craig (Admin Assistant) at tvipperm@vt.edu containing (1) a one page cover letter outlining your research interests, career goals, relevant experience for this position, preference for M.S. or Ph.D. position, and preferred start date; (2) your CV; (3) undergraduate/graduate transcripts and GRE scores; and (4) full contact information for at least 3 professional references.  The subject line of the email must read: Hellbender Graduate Position.


Human Dimensions Research Technician – Beach Recreation & Shorebirds


Location: Three sites along the Atlantic Flyway, one of which will be Long Island, NY

Salary: $380/week

Duration: Mid-May through mid-September

Responsibilities: Assist graduate student in administering human dimensions surveys to beachgoers in an effort to better understand human activities that may disturb shorebirds. Work includes: collecting on-site human observational data, conducting social science surveys with beachgoers, interacting with the public, data entry, database maintenance.

Qualifications: Seeking a candidate interested in integrating social science with natural resource management, human dimensions of conservation, and wildlife biology. The candidate must be pursuing or have completed an undergraduate degree in Environmental Conservation, Environmental Science/Studies, Wildlife Biology, Social Sciences, or a related field. The applicant must be able to adapt to a flexible work schedule, which will involve working early mornings and weekends. Preferred applicants should have the ability to work in coastal field settings and/or inclement weather (including heat, humidity, and direct sun). Must be comfortable approaching and speaking with people, as this will encompass the majority of the technician’s work. Must have good interpersonal skills and experience interacting with the public. Preferred qualifications include experience using Microsoft Office and Excel and college course-work in human dimensions, environmental interpretation, or the social sciences. Technician will be required to pass background check and driving record check.

Contact: Please email applications to Carolyn Comber at ccomber1@vt.edu by January 31st. Please include a cover letter explaining your interests and qualifications, resume, and three references (including email addresses and phone numbers).