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  • Volunteer Research Assistant in Avian Seed Dispersal


    Melanie Colón
    • Employer: Old Dominion University
      Location: Jarabacoa, La Vega
      Country: Dominican Republic
      Last Date to Apply: No value
      Open Until Filled: No

    SUMMARY: 1 volunteer research assistant is needed for approximately 4 months beginning December 15th 2018 to assist a PhD student investigating avian seed dispersal in the Dominican Republic.

    ORGANIZATION: Avian Ecology Lab, Old Dominion University (Virginia, United States)

    RESEARCH LOCATION: Jarabacoa, La Vega, Dominican Republic

    POSITION DESCRIPTION: The volunteer field assistant will be trained to identify approximately 40 species of birds and 50 species of fruit- bearing plants in order to carry out avian biodiversity and plant phenology surveys. Other data collection protocols will include focal foraging observations on marked populations of plants, collecting samples from seed traps, collecting/identifying fruits and botanical samples, and data entry. The volunteer will be expected to assist with some manual labor activities such as plot fence repair and maintaining rustic trails along transects. The field crew will work 5-6 days per week with the sixth day typically devoted to service and conservation projects overseen by local partners. Such work may involve invasive species control, forest restoration project, and development of educational materials for local school groups.

    For more information about the project, visit: https://student.wp.odu.edu/sschu001/

    LOGISTICS & COMPENSATION: Accommodations will be provided at a rental house that operates as a field station. Meals, consisting of typical Dominican food, will be provided to the volunteer at no cost during their stay. Reimbursement will be provided for food expenses for daily field trips to distant sites. All costs for in-country transportation and lodging will be provided by the project (with the exception of recreational trips on off-days). Transportation to field sites (i.e. rural farms) will be as a passenger in a 4x4 SUV or as a passenger on a motor-bike. No funds are available for air travel to/from the Dominican Republic, and volunteers are expected to cover these costs. The target start date for this position is December 17th, 2018 (flexible) and the assistant must be able to commit to a minimum of 16 weeks on the project.

    FIELD STATION & AMENITIES: Assistants should expect to share a dormitory-style room with a male roommate. Potable water, (cold) showers, and wireless internet are available at the field station.

    QUALIFICATIONS & EXPECTATIONS: Competitive candidates for this position will have a demonstrated interest in botanical or wildlife research in the field. The applicant must be in good physical condition with a willingness to tolerate difficult working conditions. We regularly hike 10 km each day off-trail, often carrying 20-30 lbs of equipment, going up and down steep slopes, frequently crossing barbed wire fences. Strong organizational skills are expected for this position to adequately manage data collection and entry as well as the ability to work independently at times. Intermediate verbal communication skills in Spanish is highly preferred, and applicants will be tested on this ability during the interview. These communication skills are essential, since the volunteer will spend most of the time working in a team setting with a Dominican field crew leader as well as communicating with private land owners and our conservation partners.

    OTHER COMMENTS: This position is ideal for undergraduates or recent graduates looking for experience in field ecology, wildlife/plant sciences, and conservation biology for their careers. Undergraduates considering applying should communicate with their academic advisor to inquire about the possibility of using the experience to count for course credits.

    APPLICANT INSTRUCTIONS: Please send… (1) A one-page cover letter detailing your interest in the position and summarizing your relevant background and professional goals. I especially want to know how you see this experience benefiting your career development. (2) A resume or CV detailing your education and experiences relevant to the qualifications discussed above (2 page max). (3) Information for 2-3 references who, preferably, know your work habits in a field or laboratory/office setting. Provide name, title, and email for each of these persons.

    DEADLINE & INTERVIEW TIMELINE: Materials must be received by October 15th 2018 to guarantee consideration, though interviews may begin sooner. Decisions will be made when a qualified candidate is found, following phone/Skype interviews and consulting references.

    Email all materials as a single PDF file attachment using the subject header "Volunteer Research Assistant Application" to:

    Spencer Schubert Department of Biological Sciences Old Dominion University Email: sschu001@odu.edu



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