We are seeking two motivated graduate students (1 MS, 1 PhD) in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment at Auburn University to spearhead a project focused on understanding the impacts of land management on breeding birds. These positions are fully funded and will be supervised by Dr. Jonathon Valente and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk.

The projects will involve a substantial field component, and successful candidates will have experience conducting avian point counts, supervising personnel, interacting with landowners, and be comfortable working in remote settings. Candidates should also have a strong interest in population modeling and experience with statistical tools and techniques will be valuable.

The overall goal of the research project will revolve around understanding how breeding birds have responded to historical management activities on state-owned lands and predicting future responses of avian communities. However, selected students will be encouraged to develop their own research questions within the scope of this project, which could revolve around source-sink dynamics, habitat selection, predictive modeling, species distribution modeling, fragmentation, management, integrated population modeling, and methodological development.

This research is being conducted as part of a larger multi-taxa effort to understand how management activities impact biodiversity. Selected students will have the opportunity to collaborate with a large team of AU faculty and graduate students, and biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The project will involve field-based sampling in 6 ecoregions (Interior Low Plateau, Southwestern Appalachians, Ridge and Valey, Piedmont, Southeastern Plains, and Southern Coastal Plain) throughout Alabama, the most biodiverse U.S. state east of the Mississippi River.

The position start dates are flexible but will ideally begin either the Fall semester of 2023 (August 16th) or the Spring semester of 2024 (January 10th). Prospective candidates should be highly motivated, interested in developing field- and computer-based skills, and have a strong background in one or more of the following areas: ecology, biology, zoology, wildlife, population modeling, species distribution modeling, or a related field.

ABOUT AUBURN: Auburn was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the state of Alabama’s best employers, with employees staying an average of ten years! Learn more about Auburn’s impact, generous employee benefits, and thriving community by visiting aub.ie/working-for-auburn.

IT’S A LIFESTYLE: The Auburn/Opelika area is a page right out of Southern Living magazine with an idyllic small-town feel, perfecting a unique balance between a close-knit community and driving consistent growth and development. Paralleling the exponential growth of Auburn University, the Auburn/Opelika area boasts services and amenities that cater to any interest.

We’re proud of our top school systems, city services, award-winning restaurants, and the infectious spirit of life in a college town. You can find us nestled halfway between the beach and the mountains in a lower-cost-of-living area, two hours outside of Atlanta or Birmingham. If you’re new to Auburn, we’d love to introduce you. If you’re already acquainted with Auburn, we’ll keep it simple: it’s time to come home!

 OUR COMMITMENT: Auburn University is committed to a diverse and inclusive campus environment. AUBURN UNIVERSITY IS AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION/EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. It is our policy to provide equal employment opportunities for all individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other classification protected by applicable law.

    Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife, Biology, Ecology, Zoology, or other closely related field
  • Strong communication skills in oral and written English
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Self-motivation, a positive attitude, and strong interpersonal skills

    Desired Qualifications:

  • Applicants for the PhD position will be ranked higher if they have an existing MS degree in Wildlife, Biology, Ecology, Zoology, or other closely related field
  • Experience presenting and publishing peer-reviewed research
  • Experience working with government agencies
  • Experience with logistical coordination of field work and personnel, avian point counts, population modeling, species distribution modeling, Bayesian data analysis, GIS software, and the R statistical programming language


Interested individuals should contact Dr. Jonathon Valente (jjv0016@auburn.edu) and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk (lepczyk@auburn.edu)  with any questions. To apply, please state “Avian PhD Assistantship Position” in the email subject line to both addresses and include (1) a cover letter that states why you are interested in and qualified for the position, (2) a CV, (3) unofficial transcripts, (4) contact information for 3 references, and (5) TOFEL scores if applicable. Applications are due by May 31st, but we encourage you to apply as soon as possible because applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis.

Contact Person: Jonathon Valente; Contact eMail jjv0016@auburn.edu

More information about our graduate program can be found here: https://cfwe.auburn.edu/graduate-study/graduate-degrees/

These positions are fully funded and will be supervised by Dr. Jonathon Valente (https://www.JonathonValente.com/)  and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk (http://cfwe.auburn.edu/profile/christopher-lepczyk/).

Salary:  $24,000/year (MS) and $28,000/year (PhD) plus tuition remission and benefits

Last Date to Apply: 05/31/2023

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