The Conservation Governance Lab at Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife, and the Environment is looking for a competitive applicant for a PhD student assistantship on invasive wildlife, policy responses, and federal public lands. Using public policy approaches, the student will investigate the relationships between stakeholders, managers, and wildlife in the North American context.

Of particular interest is the evolving situation with wild pig management, a species that is considered one of the two most important terrestrial invasive species in North America and causes billions in damages annually to agriculture and the environment. As a collaborative and interdisciplinary project, Dr. Steve Ditchkoff of the Deer Lab will serve on your dissertation committee with Dr. Kelly Dunning. This affords the student mentorship in both wildlife science and public policy, making them very competitive for today’s job market.

Responsibilities: Serving as a research assistant during spring and fall semesters, serving as a research assistant during summer semesters. Classes may include statistical methods, conservation law, habitat management, and other conservation-focused classes across different disciplines. Students must be confident that they can learn new things to achieve these interdisciplinary objectives.

About the lab:
The Conservation Governance Lab is led by Dr. Kelly H. Dunning. Dunning holds a PhD from MIT in Natural Resource Management and an MSc from Oxford University Christ Church College in Environmental Policy. Her 2018 Fulbright-funded book, Managing Coral Reefs (Anthem Press), examines how communities manage biodiversity resources through policy. This assistantship would be ideal for someone looking to pursue a career in environmental policy, wildlife conservation, and natural resource management.

Diversity and inclusion:
Diversity and inclusion are major priorities of the Conservation Governance Lab, all applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply. GREs are not required.


● Relocate to Auburn to begin your program in person in fall of 2023 understanding that being in person for research and coursework will be required.
● A masters degree in wildlife, ecology, public affairs, public policy, political science, economics, or another social science; biology; ecology; or a relevant field. This is an interdisciplinary degree, so you must be willing to take classes in both social and biological sciences.

This takes enthusiasm and dedication.
● People skills and a willingness to meet people and survey/interview them.
● A demonstrated interest in some or all of these topics: environmental policy, conservation, human dimensions of wildlife, political science, economics, hunters and anglers, and public land.
● Some previous work experience (this can be hourly or salaried, experience in the service industry is acceptable as well and should be indicated on the resume). Relevant work experience is preferred but not required.
● A competitive GPA that shows ability to work hard in graduate and undergraduate.
● Strong letters of reference from 3 former supervisors, mentors, or professors including your direct supervisor from your masters program.

Application instructions:

Email our hiring email address: with the following combined as a single PDF document: ● A 1-2 page resume ● A 1-2 page personal statement of why you are interested in this position, how your accomplishments meet these requirements, your willingness to pursue an interdisciplinary graduate degree, and your commitment to diversity and inclusion. ● Masters and bachelors transcripts (scanned copies will do, but official ones will be needed for the formal application to Auburn) ● A writing sample that shows that you are a strong writer. This can be of any length. ● Names and emails of three references.

I will only obtain reference letters if the applicant is interviewed. ● It is strongly recommended that you apply as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I cannot provide individual feedback on any applications, or give coaching/explanations about the suitability of any one single candidate. We reserve the right to end the search at our discretion. Last date to apply: May 1, 2023 but apply as soon as possible because I interview and fill positions on a rolling basis

Contact Person Dr. Kelly Dunning Contact eMail

Salary: Stipend, benefits, and tuition fully covered by assistantship

Start Date: 08/16/2023

Last Date to Apply: May/01/2023

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