PhD Position: innovative technologies for wildlife research: Starkville, MS

Mississippi State University
Starkville, MS
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
$23,500/year + insurance
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
The Wildlife Habitat and Human Interactions Lab in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture is seeking a motivated, personable, and knowledgeable individual to join our interdisciplinary team. Multiple emerging technologies have demonstrated promise as new approaches to monitoring wildlife such as small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and computer vision. Our lab is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and USDA Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) to evaluate sUAS as an airport wildlife monitoring tool. These efforts include, but are not limited to, a comprehensive literature review, field evaluations of visual and thermal sensors during day and nighttime conditions, and automating image evaluation using computer vision algorithms. The proposed Ph.D. position will focus on investigating animal behavioral responses to sUAS but could also entail digital characterization of vegetation structure and composition, computer vision, prescribed fire, and other lab topics. In short, the incumbent will be able to develop objectives related to their interests under the umbrella of our ongoing projects, which include development of wildlife monitoring technologies (e.g., sUAS), fire ecology, community ecology, invasion biology, movement ecology, aircraft-wildlife strike mitigation, biomass development for biofuels, and wetland restoration. Core tenets of the lab are teamwork and leadership development. We have an interdisciplinary team of researchers including members of the home department and computer vision and image analysis researchers. The incumbent will have the opportunity to mentor graduate and undergraduate researchers, work closely with postdoctoral research associates, and gain teaching experience through a teaching assistantship. Scientific communication of project outcomes will be expected through a variety of outlets including publications, presentations, and public outreach. The incumbent will also be encouraged to collaborate with lab mates and faculty, develop new projects outside their dissertation and be involved with seeking funding which will allow for CV diversification, conditioned upon maintaining primary dissertation responsibilities. Potential project collaborators include, but are not limited to, USDA Wildlife Services (NWRC, Airport Wildlife Hazards Program), FAA, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), and Missouri Department of Conservation. Local collaborators include members of the College of Forest Resources (i.e., Forestry Department, Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Department), Coastal Research and Extension Center, and Geosystems Research Institute, all of which fall under jurisdictional control of Mississippi State University (MSU). Mississippi State University is one of the leading research institutions in the Southeast and ranked as a top-tier land grant university by the National Science Foundation. The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture is comprised of 35 faculty, >20 support staff, and > 60 graduate students. It is home to the Mississippi USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, a US Fish and Wildlife Service Unit, USDA Wildlife Services State Director’s office, and several MDWFP offices. MSU is also the lead organization of FAA’s Centers for Excellence (ASSURE; and home to the Raspet Flight Laboratory. The incumbent also will be working with members of the Geosystems Research Institute ( MSU is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, disability status, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. We always welcome nominations and applications from women, members of any minority group, and others who share our passion for building a diverse community that reflects the diversity in our student population.
Minimum qualifications include an M.S. degree completed by the start date. At least one degree (B.S. or M.S.) must be in wildlife science, ecology, wildlife damage management, natural resource management, conservation biology, or a related field. Degree holders in a technology-related field are also encouraged to apply if at least one degree is related to the above list. Preferred qualifications include experience with sUAS, computer vision, or other technologies related to natural resource monitoring and/or animal behavior, and preferred demonstrated abilities include designing and managing field research projects, managing and analyzing data, creative thinking, publication development, and/or effective communication among multiple stakeholder groups. Applicants should be self-motivated, fit well within a multidisciplinary team environment, and exhibit excellent oral and written communication skills. For more information on MSU’s Graduate School admissions policies, please visit The Ph.D. position is fully funded ($23,500 stipend plus tuition waiver and graduate student health insurance) with additional graduate student activity fees < $300/annually). PLEASE APPLY EARLY IF INTERESTED. Applications will be reviewed when received. Pre-application questions are also welcome (see contact information below). To apply, please submit a single PDF including a cover letter, vitae, one-page statement of research interests with emphasis on how this opportunity aligns with career goals and interests, and complete contact information for three references. For additional information, please e-mail Dr. Ray Iglay at (Subject: “Tech Savvy PhD”) or call 662-325-5933 and leave a detailed message. The position is slated to begin July 1, 2021, but the start date is negotiable. A lab website highlighting current projects and personnel is coming soon.
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