Research Assistant: Orangutan Research in Indonesia

Rutgers University
Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
Job Category
This is position does not provide salary; however, certain expenses are reimbursable. Food, lodging, and project-related travel will be reimbursed by the project after a 6 month commitment has been completed. International travel, insurance, and visa/permit fees are the responsibility of the research assistant. However, these costs (International travel, insurance, and visa/permit fees) may be covered pending the results of a grant application.
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We are seeking one reliable, hard-working, and motivated research assistants to assist with data collection for the Tuanan Orangutan Research Project. This research is part of Dr. Erin Vogel’s long-term study investigating the relationships between ecology, physiology, health, and behavior in Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Research will be conducted on habituated wild orangutans inhabiting peat swamp forests within the Mawas Conservation Area. Duties will include the collection and management of behavioral, GPS, and plant phenology data, noninvasive collection, and preliminary processing of biological samples (feces and urine), as well as collection of orangutan food samples for nutritional analyses. We are particularly interested in applicants who have experience in plant identification or taxonomy and climbing. Research assistants will have the opportunity to develop and conduct their own related research project within the scope of this project. Training and supervision for these activities will be provided by Dr. Erin Vogel and doctoral student, Will Aguado. Research Assistants will be working closely with Will Aguado for his graduate research on orangutan nutrition and foraging. This project focuses on the role of nutrition and plant secondary metabolites on orangutan diet selection and physiology. A minimum 12 month appointment is required.
Experience: The ability to speak Bahasa Indonesia is preferred but not required; however, a willingness to learn and speak the language is necessary as the field station operates in Bahasa Indonesia. Priority will be given to applicants with previous biological field experience, especially behavioral ecology. Experience working in a tropical climate under demanding physical conditions is strongly preferred. The ability to learn and operate GPS and other similar technologies is required. Tuanan is a peat swamp habitat, and the conditions at this site are challenging. Research assistants can expect to spend long days following animals in knee- to waist-high waters during the wet season (animals are followed from nest to nest ~10-13 hours per day; 5-6 days per week). Applicants must: - Be comfortable walking several kilometers in difficult terrain - Exhibit strong social adaptability and sensitivity to Indonesian cultures - Be comfortable with long periods of isolation (geographic and technological, as we do not have internet at camp, and have limited cell phone signal outside of camp) - Be able to work independently and as part of a large international research team - Feel comfortable living with limited accommodations (no hot water, limited electricity, no internet) and being far away from family/friends - Be willing to adapt to a foreign culture and show dedication to learning the language - Be able to maintain an emotionally mature, friendly, energetic, positive, and very patient attitude in mentally and physically challenging situations - Be comfortable encountering insects (including abundant mosquitos), venomous snakes, and large mammals (clouded leopards and sun bears) - Be responsible when handling expensive project field equipment
Contact Person
Will Aguado
Contact eMail
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