We are seeking a motivated graduate student to study alligator mediated transport of contaminants and its associated public consumption risk. The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a high trophic level species that bioaccumulates a broad suite of environmental contaminants. In addition to serving as sentinels of ecosystem health, alligators are harvested and consumed by recreational hunters. Alligators inhabiting the Savannah River Site (SRS), a Department of Energy facility near Aiken, SC, have been reported to harbor significant levels of mercury, which if consumed, could potentially exceed those limits recommended for public consumption. The selected student will assess contaminant loads in alligator tail muscle (most commonly consumed tissue) and the degree to which alligators travel onto and off of the SRS using a combination of mark-recapture and GPS telemetry. Together, these data will inform exposure concerns associated with the public harvest and consumption of alligators in the region.
This is a joint project between the Parrott Lab (www.parrottlab.com) and Tuberville Lab (www.tuberville.srel.uga.edu) at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL), a remote unit of the University of Georgia located on the SRS, approximately 2.5 hrs away from UGA main campus. The successful applicant may be enrolled in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology (www.ecology.uga.edu) with Dr. Parrott as advisor and Dr. Tuberville (Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources) serving on the committee. The student would complete two semesters of coursework on UGA main campus but otherwise be based at SREL. 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 both Dr. Ben Parrott (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Tracey D. Tuberville (email@example.com). Please put “Alligator assistantship” in subject line of email. Submissions will be considered as they are received, but are due no later than 1 September 2019.
Minimum qualifications include a B.S. degree in ecology, the biological sciences, or related discipline. Admission generally requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Preferred qualifications include field experience with reptiles, prior experience conducting independent research, and demonstrated writing skills. A positive attitude, strong work ethic, and good communications skills are all a must.