Graduate Research Assistantships (2 M.S.) – Development of a Wetland Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Framework – South Dakota:

Description: Two Graduate Research Assistantships (M.S.) are anticipated at South Dakota State University (SDSU) beginning in early 2023. The project is part of a national effort to quantify physical and biological attributes of wetlands enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) (formally the Wetlands Reserve Program).

The two assistantships will complementary but different, working as a team to document biological, hydrological, and chemical characteristics of ACEP wetlands. One assistantship will focus on evaluating the aquatic aspects of ACEP wetlands, including quantifying fish, aquatic invertebrates, and water quality parameters; the student will be advised by Dr. Steven Chipps. The second assistantship will focus on quantifying wildlife use and abundance, especially avifauna, aquatic and adjacent terrestrial vegetation, and related characteristics of ACEP wetlands; this student will be advised by Dr. Joshua Stafford.

Field work will be conducted year-round and at times will be intensive and require long hours. Successful candidates will develop unique questions and hypotheses to evaluate using project data, with emphases on fish, invertebrate, and/or wildlife use and habitat quality. We anticipate that this work will involve using geospatial databases and software, such as LiDAR and other remote sensing products.

Qualifications: Prospective students should possess a B.S. in wetland ecology, wildlife or fisheries science, geospatial sciences, environmental science, natural resource conservation, ecology, or a closely related discipline. In the application materials, please describe your: 1) Background in wetland ecology, with emphasis on issues such as wildlife or fisheries conservation or ecology of agrarian systems; 2) Experience and expertise in managing complex field research over a large spatial extent; 3) Ability to manage and analyze large datasets; 4) Experience in working with multiple stakeholders and stakeholder engagement; 5) Relevant background and ability in statistical analyses and other quantitative techniques.

The applicant should possess the ability to work with a diversity of natural resource professionals, including state, federal agencies, and non-government organizations. Strong communication and collaborative skills are essential; the field component will require interacting with private landowners and obtaining permission to work on these lands will be a primary responsibility of the incumbent. Stipend includes salary of at least $23,000/year M.S. and a tuition waiver.

How to apply:

To apply, applicants should create a single document containing: (1) a cover letter that includes a description of work experience and career goals; (2) Curriculum Vitae; (3) a writing example that could include a course paper, senior-thesis project, senior-authored publication, etc.; (4) the names and contact information of ≥3 references; and (5) copies of official or unofficial transcripts. GRE scores are not required, but please include them if available. A GPA ≥3.2 is preferred.

Applicants should specify which of the two assistantships they are applying for. Send applications to Dr. Joshua Stafford (; questions may also be directed here as well. Review of applications will begin as they are received, with the intent to hire on or before March 2023. Contact Person Dr. Joshua Stafford Contact eMail

Salary ≥$23,000/year

Last Date to Apply 02/15/2023

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