2017 Appalachian Salamander REU and Technician Positions

February 28, 2017

28 February 2017

 

The Maerz Lab at the University of Georgia is seeking applicants for two summer positions focusing on Appalachian salamander ecology and conservation.  Both positions are based in residence at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC.  One position is an NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates), and the other is a full-time, hourly tech position.  Each position is described below.  To be considered for the REU, an applicant must be enrolled in classes for fall 2017 or immediate post associate or bachelor graduates (spring 2017 graduates may apply).  Applications are due by 5PM on Friday, March 17, 2017; and final decisions on hiring are expected by Monday, April 10, 2017.

 

The Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research project: Now completing its 38th year, the Coweeta LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) is the southern Appalachian Regional LTER based at the US Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC. Coweeta is part of 26 NSF-funded LTER sites that serve as the largest, longest-running ecological network in U.S.

 

Nature of both positions: Climate is a fundamental factor shaping the distribution and abundance of organisms, effecting ecological and evolutionary interactions between species, and altering ecosystem processes via its effects on consumer diversity abundance.  The steep montane forests of southern Appalachia are characterized by extreme spatial gradients in precipitation and soil moisture.  Southern Appalachia is also a global hotspot for salamander diversity.  Salamanders are the most abundant vertebrates in forests and headwater streams, and they influence the abundance of invertebrates and key ecosystem processes including decomposition and nutrient cycling.  Salamanders are also highly moisture sensitive, and their abundance and associated influence on ecosystem processes is predicted to vary with precipitation and soil moisture.  Students filling these positions will work in residence and under the direct supervision of Dr. John Maerz, Mrs. Vanessa Terrell, and two Ph.D. students to (1) estimate spatial variation in salamander demography along an “expanded gradient” of precipitation and soil moisture, and (2) measure how mid-story vegetation management affects stream salamander communities. Specific activities will include conducting seasonal surveys of salamanders on 96 forest plots within the Coweeta Basin, conducting long-term capture-recapture studies at six study plots, and conducting larval salamander patch occupancy sampling at experimental forest sites.  Working with a team of researchers, students will learn standard techniques for sampling salamanders, identifying species, and measuring and aging individuals, maintaining animal databases, and working with students to analyze data. Over the course of the field season, students will be expected to assume greater autonomy in leading field work.  Coweeta hosts a large number of resident researchers from a variety of academic institutions, and students will be afforded time to interact with and assist other researchers.  Fieldwork will require significant hiking, usually at night, in steep forested terrain, long periods of night work, and work within rocky streams with dense mid-story vegetation; therefore, applicants should consider the physical demands of the work and their personal comfort working in challenging terrain.

 

Position 1: Appalachian Salamander REU, Coweeta LTER, Otto, NC

Duration: May 01 - August 12, 2017 (exact dates are negotiable, expectation is minimum 12 weeks in residence)

 

The National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU program. REU Sites consists of groups of undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where she/he works closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.

            In addition to the work described above, the REU student is expected to develop their own complementary line of research under the direction of Dr. Maerz. The student will participate in the Coweeta Intern Research Symposium and be afforded the opportunity to attend a regional or national meeting.

Eligible applicants must be enrolled for fall 2017 or immediately post associates/bachelors (spring 2016 graduates may apply).  Students who are interested in future graduate studies are particularly encouraged to apply. Applicants wishing to be considered for the REU position must address three criteria in their cover letter: (1) why are you motivated to pursue experiences in research, (2) what elements of the projects motivated your application and how does that fit with your broader professional interests, and (3) how will this REU opportunity enhance your pursuit of longer-term professional goals.

The student will receive a stipend of $6,000 paid in three installments for a minimum period of 12-weeks between May 01 and August 17, 2017 (start and end dates are flexible). In addition, the student will receive free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory and a budget of up to $1,500 to cover work-related travel, materials, supplies and other field expenses. The student must live in residence at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC.  Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes.  The student is responsible for their own meals and transport to the Coweeta LTER and for personal travel around the region.

 

Position 2: Appalachian Salamander Technician, Coweeta LTER, Otto, NC

Duration: May 01 – August 10, 2017 (start and end dates are flexible), 40 hours per week for 12 weeks at an hourly compensation of $10 per hour (total gross compensation not to exceed $4,800). In addition, the technician will receive free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory. The technician must live in residence at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC, but may be called to assist with work based in Athens, GA.  Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes.  The technician is responsible for their own meals and transport to the Coweeta LTER and for personal travel around the region.

 

Application Process

Applicants should submit a cover letter, 1-2 page resume, and a list of 2-4 references (including contact email and phone numbers).  For each reference, please indicate the nature of your relationship.  Cover letters should clearly whether you want to be considered only for the REU, the technician position, or both positions. Cover letters should address your specific interests the project, relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments.  REU applicants must also address (1) why they are motivated to pursue experiences in research, and how will this REU opportunity will enhances their pursuit of longer-term professional goals. Women and students from traditionally underrepresented groups including Native Americans are encouraged to apply.  The University of Georgia is an equal opportunity employer, and all applicants will be given fair and equitable consideration.

 

Please email all materials as a single PDF file with your last name included in the file name.  Email your application to Dr. John Maerz at jcmaerz@uga.edu and copy Vanessa Terrell at vkinney@uga.edu. Applications are due by 5PM on Friday, March 17, 2017. Final decisions on hiring are expected by Monday, April 10, 2017.

 

For more information about the Maerz Lab please visit: http://jcmaerz.wixsite.com/maerzlab

For more information about the Coweeta LTER please visit: https://coweeta.uga.edu

 

 

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