Paid Amphibian Research Experiences for Undergraduates

January 22, 2019

 

Announcement: Amphibian Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

 

Duration: April 20 – August 6, 2019 (exact dates are negotiable, expectation is minimum 10 or 12 weeks in residence)

 

The Maerz Lab (http://www.maerzlab.com) at the University of Georgia is seeking applicants for two summer positions focusing on southeastern amphibian ecology and conservation. The students will spend time in residence in the Southern Appalachian Mountains at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC, at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, and at field sites in south Georgia. Project details, compensation, and applicant requirements and procedures are provided below.

 

Nature of the Positions: Climate and habitat conversion are fundamental factors shaping the distribution and abundance of organisms, effecting ecological and evolutionary interactions between species, and altering ecosystem processes via its effects on consumer diversity and abundance. The southeastern United States is a region of high amphibian diversity and undergoing significant changes in climate, residential and agricultural development, altered disturbance regimes. The southern Appalachian Mountains have steep gradients of precipitation and soil moisture, is a rapidly exurbanizing landscape, and a global hotspot for salamander diversity. Farther south, the southeastern pine-savanna ecosystems contain a high diversity of amphibian species including many threatened and imperiled species. Key to the high amphibian diversity within the pine savannas are isolated wetlands; however, many of these wetlands have been lost, and remnant wetlands have been degraded by persistent fire suppression or altered fire regimes.

 

The technician and the REU student will work on projects within both ecosystems. Both individuals will work on a long-term project related to climate effects on salamander population ecology. Both individuals will also spend time in southern pine savannas working on an amphibian habitat restoration and captive rearing and release program. Both individuals will work under the direct supervision of Dr. John Maerz (https://www.maerzlab.com/john-maerz-bio), Mrs. Vanessa Terrell, and graduate students. Specific activities will include seasonal surveys of salamanders on 96 forest plots within the Coweeta Basin, capture-recapture of salamanders at six long-term study plots, dipnet and acoustic monitoring sampling of amphibians in restoration wetlands, mesocosm and field experiments, husbandry of captive-reared animals, and radio-telemetry on free-roaming animals.  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. Fieldwork will require significant hiking, often at night, in steep forested terrain or wetlands with dense mid-story vegetation, biting insects, and potentially high temperatures. Applicants should consider the physical demands of the work and their personal comfort working in challenging terrain and weather before applying.

 

 

Though the two positions are relatively aligned, there are different eligibility requirements, expectations, and compensation structure for each position. Additional information about the eligibility and expectations are described below. Applicants must indicate which positions they are applying for. Eligible applicants may indicate they wish to be considered for for both positions.

 

Position 1: Southeastern Amphibian Ecology REU, Coweeta LTER, Otto, NC

 

The National Science Foundation provides funds to create research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU program. Students work closely with the researchers, are granted stipends and budgets for independent research projects. Students may also receive assistance with housing and travel. This REU is funded through the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research Project (https://coweeta.uga.edu). Now completing its 42nd year, the Coweeta LTER is the southern Appalachian 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.

 

Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. In addition, eligible applicants must either be enrolled in undergraduate courses for fall 2019 or immediately post associates/bachelors (individuals who graduated between June 2018 and May 2019 are eligible to apply).  Students who are interested in future graduate studies, 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. Over the course of the field season, the REU student is expected to assume greater autonomy in leading field work and must develop their own complementary line of research under the direction of Dr. Maerz focusing on Appalachian salamander ecology. The student will participate in the Coweeta Intern Research Symposium and – potentially - attend a regional or national meeting.

 

The REU student will receive a stipend of $6,000 paid in three installments for a minimum period of 12-weeks between April 20 and August 6, 2019. In addition, the student will receive free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory and when on location Athens and at other field sites, and a budget of up to $1,500 to cover work-related travel, materials, supplies and other field expenses associated with their independent project. Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes. The student is responsible for their own meals and personal travel around the region.

 

Position 2: Amphibian Ecology and Conservation Technician, University of Georgia

This position does not require that the applicant be a current or recent student; however, because the position is supported with NSF funds the applicant must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. The technician will receive an hourly rate of $11 for 40 hours per week for up to 10 weeks between April 20 and July 30, 2019. The technician is eligible for free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory and when on location at other field sites but may be responsible for brief periods of lodging when in Athens, GA. Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes. The student is responsible for their own meals and 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. The cover letter should succinctly summarize your interests, relevant skills and experiences, and accomplishments. For individuals applying for the REU position, your cover letter must also address: (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.We encouraged students to discuss any prior constraints on accessing research experiences.

 

Please email all materials as a single PDF file with your last name as the first part of the file name.  Email your application to Dr. John Maerz at jcmaerz@uga.edu. Applications are due by 5PM on Friday, March 1, 2019. Final decisions on hiring are expected by Monday, March 18, 2019.

 

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