Research assistant position to study wild capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica: Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project (32-year study)

Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Job Category
Volunteer Openings
None. However, a field manager positions (which pay a stipend in addition to room and board) will open in 2023, and this positions will be chosen from this year’s group of interns. Currently we are able to provide free room and board. (See below). Interns must feed themselves when away on vacation and visa trips. Assistants must buy their own medical insurance to the site and pay the cost of any visa applications. The flight to and from Costa Rica is reimbursable, up to a certain amount, upon completion of the year-long commitment. If applicants are qualified but cannot afford to pay these costs, they should let us know well in advance so we can try to direct them to additional funding sources they can apply for.
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
The Lomas Barbudal Capuchin Project has been running for 32 years, and (funding permitting) will continue for many years to come. Each year we accept about 6 interns who stay a full year and participate in data collection. The project currently monitors 10 social groups of monkeys. Virtually all monkeys are well habituated, and their genetic relationships are known, as well as social histories dating back several years in most cases. The primary foci of research currently are (a) behavioral variation across the lifespan, (b) life history strategies, (c) the role of alloparents in shaping learning environments, and (d) the role of personality in invention and social transmission of behavioral traits. These internships are excellent preparation for graduate school (77 of our past interns have been admitted to graduate school). The PI (Prof. Susan Perry, UCLA) spends about 4 months/year on site actively collecting data with the interns, affording a closer relationship between the interns and the research assistants than is possible in most long-term field projects. Application Instructions: Application instructions and a detailed guide to working on the project are on the following website: Please, when you apply, specify the minimum among of financial support you would need in order to be a viable applicant, and state dates of your availability. Please read the detailed guide to working on the monkey project BEFORE applying or contacting the project, as this will answer virtually all questions. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to read the book "Manipulative Monkeys: The Capuchins of Lomas Barbudal," which is a popular science book documenting not only the first 15 years of scientific research, but the life style of researchers working at this site. We need people to stay for an entire year, because of the high cost of training research assistants. Starting dates and application deadlines are highly flexible (disregard the start dates and application dates below, as we’re accepting applications at any time). We need one person who can start immediately (i.e.sometime between May 1 and July 1, 2023) and plan to take on 1 more intern in late summer or fall 2023. Please state which position you are interested in when you apply.
There are no absolute criteria, and we try to hire people with a blend of different talents. But some traits that help are good grades (>3.3 GPA), some prior Spanish training, and prior experience studying animal behavior and working in the field. The most important trait in a field assistant is strong work ethic and the ability to make a firm commitment for the duration of the contract. Please do not apply if you are the sort of person who signs contracts and then backs out, as such behavior is highly damaging to the project (as well as to your own reputation). It is also highly desirable for applicants to have done some reading in primatology (not just websites, but journal articles and books, including some from this project) before applying.
Contact Person
Susan Perry
Contact eMail
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