PhD Graduate Assistantship in Marine Predator Physiological Ecology at UNC Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
The UNCW Comparative Physiology Laboratory is seeking a highly motivated, responsible, and independent individual that is interested in pursuing a PhD position in physiological ecology of polar marine top predators in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), as part of the NSF-funded project ‘Effects of a Changing Climate on the Habitat Utilization, Foraging Ecology and Distribution of Crabeater Seals’. This project is a collaborative effort between UNCW, University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), and the British Antarctic Survey. We are looking for a student with excellent quantitative and analytical skills, interested in foraging ecology, diving physiology, and behavior of marine predators. Expertise programming in R, Matlab, and/or python is highly desirable. Experience working with wild pinnipeds, stable isotopes, and biologging data (satellite telemetry) are advantageous. The successful applicant will ideally also have experience with field work in extreme environments, particularly polar environments. Ideal start date will be early January 2022. The student will earn a Ph.D. in Integrative, Comparative, and Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (Wilmington, NC, USA). Student support will be provided via a combination of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and tuition waivers. The student will also be strongly encouraged to pursue independent grants and fellowships. The supervision team includes Dr. Michael Tift (UNCW), and Dr. Luis Huckstadt (UCSC). University of North Carolina, Wilmington provides an engaged and dynamic academic experience, with over 2,200 graduate students and over 16,700 students in total enrollment. UNCW is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer that promotes achievement and success for all persons. The campus is located on the southeast coast of North Carolina, less than 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. UNCW has a separate Center for Marine Science which is approximately 7 miles from main campus and sits directly on the Intracoastal Waterway of the Atlantic Ocean.
Applicants must have a strong academic background and a B.S. degree focused on ecology, physiology, wildlife conservation, or closely related field. Applicants should have proven laboratory experience that is highlighted in their letters of recommendation. A background in stable isotopes and computer programming is desired. Students are expected to conduct their thesis/dissertation research project and complete required course work. Excellent verbal and written English communication skills are essential. Interested applicants should review material regarding the UNCW Graduate Program ( and the UNCW Comparative Physiology Lab under the supervision of Dr. Michael Tift ( If you’re interested in applying, first send a single document (Word or PDF) to Dr. Michael Tift ( and Dr. Luis Huckstadt ( that contains the following: 1) Contact information for three (3) references that can speak to your expertise and skills 2) Current CV (which includes undergraduate and/or graduate GPA, research skills, publications, and relevant work experience) 3) Unofficial transcripts (undergraduate and graduate, if available) 4) 1-2 pg cover letter that highlights your research interests, research background, future career directions, and hypothesis driven research questions related to the following; a. The effects of climate change on marine top predators. b. Foraging ecology of marine top predators. c. Physiology and health of marine top predators, with emphasis on polar marine mammals. If you would like to apply to the graduate program at UNC Wilmington, please use the following link to fill out an official application ( The deadline to apply for Spring Semester of 2021 is November 15th, 2021 at midnight EST. However, candidates are encouraged to apply early as review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a suitable candidate is identified.
Contact Person
Dr. Michael Tift (UNCW), and Dr. Luis Huckstadt (UCSC)
Contact eMail
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