The Conservation and Coexistence research group in the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan is currently seeking PhD students to begin in Fall 2021.
Research in the Conservation and Coexistence Group:
We are interested in investigating how social and environmental factors, and their interactions, influence the capacity for people and wildlife to coexist in an ever-changing world. Current research areas focus on interdisciplinary approaches to endangered species conservation, spatial ecology for conservation decision making, understanding co-benefits in human-wildlife systems, quantifying the benefits of predators and scavengers to human societies, and inferring networks of illicit wildlife trade. We use a wide range of methods and tools to examine these research areas, including field monitoring, social surveys, remote sensing, GIS, and spatial and simulation modeling. Through interdisciplinary research and course work, students in our group build a formidable toolkit to tackle wildlife conservation challenges through either an academic or non-academic career path. Please feel free to visit our group’s website (https://www.coexistencegroup.com/).
Potential Research Areas for PhD Students:
1. PhD students can participate in any of the abovementioned research areas but shape their research to fit their interests and professional goals. Potential research topics, for example, could focus on investigating: mutual adaptations between humans and wildlife along the urban-wildland interface; ecosystem services and disservices from wildlife; changes to human-wildlife dynamics caused by economic development, climate change, and/or land-use change; barriers to wildlife recovery caused by contentious social and policy discourses; and statistical approaches for integrating human social factors into wildlife population and habitat models.
2. Research on a new project on tiger ecology in Nepal. Tigers are globally endangered and threatened by expanding transportation networks throughout their range. New roads and railways can have devastating consequences on the gradually recovering population of Bengal tigers in the Nepal Terai Arc Landscape. The goal of this project is to develop new and detailed knowledge of tiger movement, space use, and behavior in response to road infrastructure in order to develop effective road mitigation strategies. The PhD student can engage with this project in a number of ways, including: 1) collecting field data on tiger behavior, hunting, and movement along major roads that are near or within protected areas in the Terai; 2) evaluating the effects of major roads on tiger energy expenditure, interactions with humans, and habitat connectivity; 3) incorporating the socio-economic impacts of new road development projects into cost-benefit analyses; and 4) developing computer models to forecast effects of new infrastructure on tiger conservation and human wellbeing. In addition, the PhD student will work closely with government and non-government agencies in Nepal to integrate insights from their work into conservation plans.
The SEAS PhD Program:
The School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan guarantees each PhD student is supported for five academic years, including stipend, tuition/mandatory fees waiver, and a generous benefits package. SEAS provides up to two years of fellowship support typically during the first two years of the program. The PhD's mentor is responsible for providing support for three years of support (through teaching or research assistantships, and/or assisting the student in obtaining external fellowships). This is typically during the third, fourth, and fifth years of the program. In addition, there are opportunities for funded graduate field trips, research funds, and yearly conference travel support. Graduates go on to successful careers in academia, governmental research, or private industries.
How to Apply:
Information about the application process to SEAS can be found here: https://seas.umich.edu/admissions/how-apply. The deadline for Fall 2021 is December 15, 2020. Prior to submitting an application to SEAS, please send an email to Dr. Neil Carter at email@example.com and state why you are interested in working in the group, your research interests and goals, and other relevant background information.
• Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology, Conservation, Ecology, Geography, or related field.
• Strong quantitative skills, including proficiency using R and ArcGIS, or other statistical and GIS software.
• Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology, Conservation, Ecology, Geography, or related field.
• Experience modeling wildlife behavior, movement, and habitat.
• Experience collecting, compiling, and analyzing large datasets.
• Demonstrated research success through peer reviewed publications.
• Experience working in collaborative teams.
• Proficiency with Nepali language (specifically for tiger research project in Nepal).