Plant ecology and open-source/DIY environmental monitoring – research technician: North Dakota

North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
Job Category
Temporary/Seasonal Positions
starting at $12/hr
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We seek to hire a summer seasonal research technician to contribute to research on grassland plant ecology and fire ecology. Because our work includes unconventional applications and techniques, including open-source/DIY hardware based on Arduino for environmental monitoring, we encourage applications from unconventional fields including basic plant biology, electrical or software engineering, and computer science. All applicants should be able to demonstrate experience working cooperatively and independently, and be enthusiastic about problem-solving in a creative research environment.

The technician will work closely with a graduate student in Dr. Devan McGranahan’s lab in the North Dakota State University School of Natural Resource Sciences, and will be based at the NDSU main campus in Fargo, North Dakota. This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the design and operation of ecological research, including data management.
The technician will be expected to support three main avenues of work, although the actual proportion of time committed to each can vary with the technician's interest:

Environmental monitoring with open-source/DIY hardware: We are actively developing open-source/DIY microcontroller and sensor applications based on Arduino systems and accessories from Adafruit Industries for use in several lines of ecological research, including long-term soil moisture and weather, real-time fire weather, real-time fire behavior, and livestock tracking via GPS. We are very interested in adding to our lab someone with experience and interest in building and programming such systems; knowledge of soldering, wiring circuits, and C/C++ is preferred. Interested technicians will have ample opportunity to visit field sites and participate in this research, including prescribed fire, across North Dakota.

Basic data management and analysis: The technician will be expected to perform basic tasks in organizing previously-collected data in spreadsheets prior to analysis. Experience with Excel is required. Experience in data management in the R statistical environment is preferred, and skill development is available for interested technicians.

Plant and endophyte ecology: We are also conducting several research projects on basic plant ecology in the greenhouse, growth chamber, and in field plots. In addition to helping the graduate student maintain study plants in the greenhouse, the technician will also participate in collecting physiological data, testing for fungal endophytes, propagating experimental plant specimens, and applying experimental treatments such as drought, altered CO2, fire, and clipping.

This position is available immediately. Terms of employment are flexible, and can include part-time hours and possibly employment beyond the summer. Compensation begins at $12/hour, although applicant experience will be considered in final offer. Interested applicants should send via e-mail a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position along with a CV/resume to Brittany Poling (, the graduate student supervisor.
Contact Person
Devan McGranahan
Contact eMail
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