PhD Position: Tracking Least Terns and Black Skimmers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Mississippi State University
Starkville, MS, USA
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
$23,500 + health insurance
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
A dynamic research group among Mississippi State University’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Coastal Research and Extension Center, and Audubon Delta is seeking a motivated, personable, and knowledgeable individual to join our team. Working closely with Audubon Delta, MSU’s Coastal Research and Extension Center, and the Quantitative Ecology and Spatial Technologies (QuEST) Lab, the incumbent will be the lead MSU field researcher and liaison to Audubon Delta for helping trap and track Least Terns and Black Skimmers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The research team hopes to gather life history information to help inform future conservation, management, and restoration efforts. Specifically, the team proposes to determine linkages among breeding colonies, foraging sites, staging areas, and possibly wintering sites concomitant to documenting and characterizing animal movement at various scales. The early career professional will work closely with Audubon Delta staff and field support including Dr. Abby Darrah, become familiar with MS coastal sites including CREC and associate faculty Dr. Mark Woodrey, and spend the rest of the year on main campus with Drs Kristine Evans, Mel Boudreau, and Ray Iglay. Field seasons 2023-2025 will occur for approximately three months from late March through June. Rental or state-owned vehicles will be available for fieldwork as well as travel support for conferences and some visits to the coast. Temporary housing options are also available for the field season. Core tenets of the group are teamwork and leadership development. We have multiple interdisciplinary projects among local, regional, and national stakeholders from applied field ecology through computer vision. The incumbent will have the opportunity to mentor graduate and undergraduate researchers, work closely with postdoctoral research associates, and gain teaching experience if interested. 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, Audubon Delta, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). 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). PLEASE APPLY EARLY IF INTERESTED. Applications will be reviewed when received. Pre-application questions are also welcome. 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 application submission or additional information, please e-mail Dr. Ray Iglay at (Subject: “Seabird Tracking PhD”) or call 662-325-5933 and leave a detailed message. The position is slated to begin summer 2023.
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, natural resource management, conservation biology, or a related field. Preferred qualifications include experience with animal movement data, trapping animals, transmitter attachment, and other common field and analysis methods. Preference will also be for incumbents with demonstrated experience or capabilities in 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 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.
Contact Person
Raymond Iglay
Contact Phone
Contact eMail
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