PhD Fellowship: Grassland bird ecology and management across the Great Plains

Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
~$21,000 per year stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance covered
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
Grassland birds are experiencing the steepest declines of any North American bird guild, but dominant drivers of these declines and the potential of management to mitigate them are still not well understood across broad spatial scales. We are recruiting a PhD student to investigate drivers of avian abundance and community structure across the Great Plains. An ideal candidate for this position will draw from a combination of existing datasets (e.g., Ebird, Breeding bird survey, Christmas bird count) from multiple Great Plains states as well as field-collected data to examine drivers of grassland bird declines as well as impacts of grassland management on target species. Within this subject area, there is great flexibility for an ideal candidate to identify and pursue compelling research. Opportunities to incorporate tagging and movement analysis for the declining and near-threatened mountain plover also exist, depending upon the interests of the candidate. This student will be funded as part of the Dr. Fritz L. Knopf Doctoral Fellowship Program in Avian Conservation, and will be located in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management (NREM) at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Knopf was dedicated to avian conservation, and this fellowship was endowed to continue this legacy and support promising students with a passion for tackling conservation challenges. The fellow will work with a collaborative group including Drs. Courtney Duchardt, Scott Loss, Craig Davis, Dwayne Elmore, Sam Fuhlendorf, and Tim O’Connell. There will also be an opportunity to conduct collaborative side-projects and interact with other Knopf Fellows and to participate in, contribute to, and use data from existing field projects at OSU (examples of existing projects for the above faculty members can be seen on the NREM faculty web page: The fellow will be expected to participate in grant applications, peer-reviewed and popular publications as first author and co-author, presentations at regional and national meetings, and professional organizations. The funding provides a stipend for 4 years (~$21,000 per year), tuition and fees, health insurance, and a professional development allowance to present at conferences and for short-term research residencies in labs where other Knopf fellows are based. Start date can be Summer (June) or Fall (August) 2022, but preference will be given to candidates who are available to start either in-person or remotely prior to August 2022. We emphasize that this PhD position is highly unique in allowing broad flexibility for students to collaborate with a group of mentors to identify potential research topics, and in providing students with substantial time and resources to pursue this research, including with external collaborators at other academic and conservation-focused institutions. As a result, and in line with the spirit of the Knopf Fellowship program, we expect that this position will provide the incumbent with a springboard to future leadership roles in avian ecology and conservation. This position will be based in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University. OSU is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on the ancestral lands of the Kickapoo, Osage, Kiowa, and Quapaw peoples. Our collaborative group is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are committed to training students to tackle the broad array of conservation issues that arise at the interface of humans and wildlife worldwide. Those solutions require people with different backgrounds, interests, and insights. Review of applications will begin February 20th, but will continue until a suitable candidate is found. Interested applicants should contact Dr. Duchardt (contact info below) and provide application materials in 1 document including 1) a one-page cover letter stating interest, 2) a CV, and 3) three professional references. Any offer of employment is contingent on the university’s verification of credentials and other information required by law and/or university policies, including but not limited to a criminal background check. Oklahoma State University, as an equal opportunity employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. Oklahoma State University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all individuals and does not discriminate based on race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, or veteran status with regard to employment, educational programs and activities, and/or admissions.
Fellowship selection will be based on academic merit as demonstrated by: (1) Clarity of direction and commitment to avian ecology research articulated in student’s letter of interest, (2) Demonstration of effective oral and written communication as demonstrated by professional presentations and/or relevant research published in refereed scientific journals; and (3) Demonstrated leadership. Applicants with at least some experience using GIS and statistical analysis will be especially competitive. A master's degree is strongly preferred but may not be required for students with extensive independent research experience.
Contact Person
Dr. Courtney Duchardt
Contact eMail
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