The University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL; http://www.srel.uga.edu/) is recruiting an M.S. level graduate student to assess the biotic communities in contaminated habitats that have undergone several decades of natural attenuation and compare them to biotic communities at reference sites. Research would be conducted on the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, SC, with much of the work conducted in a floodplain system previously contaminated by coal fly ash deposition (http://archive-srel.uga.edu/research/projects/DAreaStudies.html) but that has undergone natural attenuation and has been the focus of several decades of research, providing an abundance of historical data on which to build. Much of the previous focus has been on documenting body burdens of contaminants and their individual- and population-level effects in a wide variety of taxa. Community-level effects have received little attention. The selected candidate would develop a research-based thesis to compare the biotic communities at the contaminated site with appropriate reference sites on the SRS, with a focus on the terrestrial fauna, including (but not limited to) reptiles and amphibians. Data from the thesis will be used to inform future management and remediation actions for the site and, more broadly, to better understand how legacy contaminants influence the ecological communities in which they occur.
We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in ecotoxicology and in conducting applied research. Although there are project-specific deliverables that the student must fulfill, the successful candidate will be given wide latitude to develop their research project. The student would be enrolled in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (https://www.warnell.uga.edu/) in Athens, GA, and conduct their field research at the Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC, where s/he would be in residence once coursework was completed. The selected student will also be expected to publish his/her work as peer-reviewed manuscripts, with manuscripts in “submission-ready” form prior to graduation.
Applicants should submit their CV (including GPA and GRE scores), contact information for at least three references, and a one-page letter describing their research interests as they relate to this position to Dr. Tracey D. Tuberville, firstname.lastname@example.org. The selected candidate will then be asked to formally apply to the graduate program at Warnell. Please put “Biotic assessment assistantship” in the subject line of the email. More information about Dr. Tuberville’s lab, including people and publications, and expectations of lab members can be found at: http://tuberville.srel.uga.edu/.
Submissions will be considered as they are received, but are due no later than 5 March 2021. The expected start date will be mid-August 2021.
Minimum qualifications include a B.S. degree in ecology, wildlife biology or related discipline. Preferred qualifications include field experience with reptiles, prior experience conducting independent research, and demonstrated writing skills. We seek an enthusiastic, self-motivated student who has a clear idea of the types of research questions s/he wants to pursue and who will take the lead in developing and implementing the research project.