Positions Available

M.S. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources | Fisheries Ecology / Biophysical Economics

Position:  M.S. position in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, NSF-NRT: Enhancing Conservation Science and Practice at the University of Maine

Description: We are seeking an M.S. student with an interest in the human dimensions of natural resources. The successful candidate will join a National Science Foundation-funded graduate research traineeship program that will prepare the next generation of conservation leaders. Scholars in this program will integrate biophysical and social sciences in collaborative, engaged, and solutions-driven research, professional development, and coursework. The goal of the research traineeship program is to build a well-trained and experienced workforce to advance conservation solutions that will ultimately lead to enhanced resilience of socio-ecological systems in Maine and beyond.

The successful candidate’s primary focus will be on informing landscape-scale conservation practice, using wetland management in the Northeastern U.S. as an exemplary social-ecological system. Research will examine legislative frameworks and governance arrangements, with an emphasis on understanding cross-scale linkages, spatial mismatches, and institutional flexibility, rigidity, and change. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of biophysical and social science researchers, the student will design and conduct social science research to understand wetland ‘decision pathways’ at multiple levels of governance that influence ecological, social, and economic outcomes. Social science research methods may include participant observations and interviews and focus groups with federal and state resource and regulatory agencies, municipal and community leaders, elected officials, and representatives of regional and local conservation and planning organizations. This research will support an on-going study of adaptive approaches to conserving small natural resources on private lands. Internship opportunities are an integral part of the research traineeship program and may include partnering with federal, state, or municipal governments, local land trusts, or other community or conservation organization. Students with an interest in stakeholder engagement, social science research, conservation science, natural resources policy, and environmental communication are encouraged to apply.

Qualifications: B.S./B.A. degree required at time of application. Course work or experience in social science research methods is highly desirable. Transdisciplinary research and active learning experiences are central to the program thus the applicant must demonstrate an interest in inter-and transdisciplinary research and a strong commitment to linking knowledge with action or practical conservation outcomes. It is important that the applicant is comfortable working in a team-based environment and has the ability to work with diverse stakeholders who may have different perspectives and agendas. Most importantly, the student must demonstrate strong motivation, resourcefulness, creativity, and a personal commitment and responsibility for their own scholarship and research. Students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent residents to receive support.

For further application and program details, visit our website: http://umaine.edu/conservationscience

Compensation: Competitive stipend and 100% health insurance

Closing date: Open until filled

Contact: Please send a letter of interest, resume, unofficial copy of your transcript, and contact information for three references to: Aram Calhoun, Professor of Wetland Ecology Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at calhoun@maine.edu and Jessica Jansujwicz, Research Assistant Professor Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology jessica.jansujwicz@maine.edu


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Position: Graduate Student Research Assistant in Fisheries Ecology / Biophysical Economics (PhD preferred, exceptional student considered for MS), starting May or June 2021

Project background: Human population growth is on a collision course with biophysical limits of Planet Earth and economic limits of modern capitalism, but current systemic structure and ways of thinking seem incapable of correctly identifying and responding to these existential crises. This has motivated some people to plan for a future of resource scarcity, climate catastrophe, and economic collapse by investing in back-to-the-land activities (sustenance fishing, hunting, homesteading, etc.) to build resilience and achieve some level of sustainability. But are these intelligent responses to achieve a “prosperous way down”, or just feel-good activities with little chance of success? This research project seeks to find out! Applicants can learn more by watching this presentation

Responsibilities: Graduate student will contribute to an existing research project and also expand its scope according to their skills and interests. The project’s primary focus is to evaluate productive capacity of Maine’s freshwater fisheries, along with harvest capacity of anglers, to meet sustenance needs during times of economic and ecological decline. The student will combine “traditional” fisheries science approaches such as age-and-growth analysis and energy-flow ecosystem modelling with biophysical economic analysis to quantify profitability of sustenance angling and assess its potential for helping meet long-term and large-scale sustainability goals. Secondary focal projects would apply similar approaches towards evaluating other sustenance activities common in rural Maine such as hunting, firewood harvesting, maple syruping, gardening, etc. The student will take advantage of existing data sets (e.g., otoliths from 5,000+ angled fish) but also collect their own data from nearby field sites. This project will require fieldwork, lab work, computer analysis/modeling, grant writing, and serving as Teaching Assistant for undergraduate ecology-based classes.

Qualifications: Applicants should hold M.S. or equivalent degree in an ecology-related discipline (exceptional students possessing B.S. or equivalent will be considered); meet minimum Departmental standards of GPA and GRE; have demonstrated achievement in relevant coursework, skills, or experience in fisheries ecology, ecosystems ecology, and/or biophysical economics; have demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively and think critically.

Compensation: This position is supported by a Graduate Assistantship through the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station (MAFES), which includes an annual stipend of ~ $20,000, tuition waiver, ½ health insurance coverage, and a small operating budget. The student will be expected to help pursue additional funding opportunities by writing grants and seeking collaborators.

Timeline: Review of applications will begin immediately, competitive candidates will be selected for interviews by around 1 March 2021, final offer will be made by around 1 April 2021, and position will start May or June 2021.

Application: Candidates should email a statement of interest / qualifications, CV, unofficial transcripts, and contact information for 3 references to Steve Coghlan, Associate Professor of Freshwater Fisheries Ecology, at Stephen.coghlan@maine.edu, with the subject header “Graduate Application”


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Position: MS Assistantship: Population ecology of moose in Maine
A 2-year Masters position is available in the Morano and Kamath Labs at the University of Maine, starting in the Fall 2021 semester.

Description: We seek a motivated and enthusiastic student to examine questions related to habitat ecology and population dynamics of Maine moose (Alces alces). The successful applicant will work as part of a collaborative team composed of faculty and graduate students at the University of Maine, and professionals from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). The student would be considering questions of moose habitat use and survival dynamics in the context of resource allocation, habitat selection, winter severity, winter tick dynamics, and other potential epidemiological factors. This is primarily a modeling project, taking advantage of data collected by the MDIFW; fieldwork may consist of assisting agency personnel with data collection, or collecting and processing biological samples. Results from this study aim to inform management efforts and conservation planning for moose in Maine and would be relevant to populations throughout the southern extent of their range.

The student will be a member of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine, with options for pursuing an MS in Wildlife Ecology or Ecology and Environmental Sciences, co-advised by Dr. Sabrina Morano and Dr. Pauline Kamath. Support for the student will come in the form of a graduate assistantship (which also covers tuition, (50%) of health insurance), which may include a combination of both research and teaching assistantships.

Qualifications: The successful candidate should have a strong undergraduate academic background in wildlife, ecology, or a related field, and desire to use basic ecological theory to address current conservation challenges for large mammals. Competitive applicants will have skills/interests in GIS, statistical modeling, survival analyses, and the use of Program R for data analysis and management. In addition, a willingness to work outside in cold, wet conditions and to participate in collection of biological samples from living or dead animals is required. Successful candidates will also have demonstrated leadership and initiative at the undergraduate level, have the capacity to manage multiple competing tasks for their time (e.g., write a proposal, assisting with field work, take graduate level courses), are goal oriented and self-directed with an ability to overcome obstacles to finish tasks (in research, education, or life in general), and have an interest in collaborative research.

To Apply: (1) a cover letter describing why you are pursuing a graduate degree, how this opportunity aligns with your professional interests, and current qualifications, including relevant research experience and coursework. In addition, please highlight what you feel are your strengths and weaknesses relative to this graduate position; (2) a CV detailing relevant academic qualifications and field experiences; (3) GRE scores (if available); (4) unofficial transcripts; and (5) contact information for three references. Please combine materials into a single PDF document to sabrina.morano@maine.edu with the subject line “Moose MS Position.”All applications received before January 18th will receive full consideration, but will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Students are also welcome to participate in one of two transdisciplinary graduate programs offered at UMaine, the Enhancing Conservation Science NRT Program or the One Health and the Environment NRT Program, please see program websites for additional information and include interest in the cover letter.


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updated 11/24/2020