We are recruiting an ambitious Ph.D. student to evaluate distribution, abundance, and demography of mule deer in western Oklahoma. This project is part of a collaboration between the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The mule deer population in western Oklahoma is restricted currently to areas that are typically characterized by extreme weather events, high variability in resource availability, and an increasing influence of anthropogenic activities associated with agricultural operations and energy infrastructure.

To better understand the distribution, abundance, and population ecology of mule deer and to inform harvest management in western Oklahoma, the selected candidate will use GPS and VHF collars to assess population dynamics by estimating vital rates, determining cause-specific mortality (including the role of parasites, predators, and nutritional condition), and using integrated population modeling to quantify population trajectory.

The selected candidate will assess aerial and ground-based methods for investigating and monitoring mule deer distribution and spatial variation in abundance, as well as movements and habitat selection in the context of the potential effects of anthropogenic pressures (including agriculture and energy infrastructure) and environmental variability. The student will be expected to develop additional questions depending on their interests. Funding is available for 4 years (August 2023–June 2027), while working toward a Ph.D. degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University.

The selected candidate will be expected to work closely with biologists from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, private landowners, and researchers from collaborating universities. The Ph.D. position includes a graduate stipend of $25,000 annually (with potential for merit-based increases), resident and non-resident tuition waiver, and health insurance at $25 per month (for student only; family coverage is available for an additional fee).

The student will conduct research in the Chitwood Lab, which works on a wide range of research projects in wildlife ecology and management, with an emphasis on the ecology of game species and carnivores. The Chitwood Lab is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fostering an environment where diversity is accepted and encouraged. We encourage all interested people to apply despite preconceived notions of their own experience as it relates to this project’s objectives.

Start Date: 01/ August/2023

Minimum Qualifications:

  • M.S. in wildlife management, natural resources, ecology, or a closely related discipline
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or greater (as required by the Department and Graduate College)
  • Previous field and animal handling experience
  • Experience planning and coordinating daily field activities
  • Experience conducting independent research
  • Highly motivated with a strong work ethic
  • Ability to walk/run over rugged terrain, sometimes in extreme conditions (heat, cold)
  • A valid US driver license (without restrictions)

Desired Qualifications:

  • Strong interest in the ecology and management of game species
  • Experience with radio telemetry
  • Experience working closely with private landowners
  • Experience with R
  • Experience with technical writing and/or publication

Institutional Information: Oklahoma State University (OSU) is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which is within an hour of both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. OSU is a land-grant institution with an enrollment of ~25,000 students, and it is located on the ancestral lands of the Kickapoo, Osage, Kiowa, and Quapaw peoples. Indigenous people from other Native nations also reside here, many of whom were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands. They all contribute to the history and current vitality of our region.

The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is part of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and conducts interdisciplinary research, instruction, and extension education to address the sustainable management and conservation of the wildlife, forest, rangeland, and fishery resources of Oklahoma and beyond. The Department is a source of cutting-edge research, quality instruction, and effective outreach to students, landowners, managers, and public agencies.

Any offer of employment is contingent on the university’s verification of credentials and other information required by law and/or university policies, including but not limited to a criminal background check. Oklahoma State University, as an equal opportunity employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action.

Oklahoma State University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all individuals and does not discriminate based on race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, or veteran status with regard to employment, educational programs and activities, and/or admissions.

To Apply:

Please combine the following into a single PDF file: (1) a 1–2-page cover letter that details why you are interested in this position, your most relevant experiences, and your professional goals/aspirations; (2) a curriculum vitae; (3) contact information for 3 references (i.e., name, affiliation, email, and phone number); (4) unofficial transcripts; and (5) unofficial GRE scores if available.

Please include your last name in the title of the PDF. Send the PDF file as an attachment to colter.chitwood@okstate.edu  no later than 15 May 2023 with the subject line of the email titled “Mule Deer Ph.D. Position.” Electronic (email) submission of applications is encouraged but mail is also fine; mailed applications should be postmarked by 15 May 2023 and sent to Colter Chitwood, 008C Agriculture Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078. Please note that application review will begin immediately upon receipt, so interviews may be offered before the closing date of 15 May 2023.

Website: http://nrem.okstate.edu

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