Project Background: We are seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher specializing in Raptor Biology to take the lead on a fully funded conservation research project. The project started in 2022 and is aimed at developing a non-lethal Merlin control program to protect endangered Great Lakes Piping Plovers. Over the past few decades, the Great Lakes Piping Plover has made a remarkable recovery from just 17 breeding pairs in 1986 to more than 70 pairs today. However, after recently expanding their range to the Great Lakes, Merlins have become important predators of adult and young plovers and are currently limiting population growth. Managers in the region are seeking non-lethal options for controlling Merlin populations. We will be exploring translocation as a method of non-lethal control, but we may also explore other options such as diversionary feeding. We are also satellite tracking Merlins to better understand their home ranges, space use, and migration timing and routes.
Position Description and Duties: As the lead researcher, you will have the opportunity to re-think the direction of this project before fieldwork begins next spring. You will also be responsible for: 1) planning, coordinating, and directly participating in all fieldwork in Michigan, 2) working with permitting agencies and landowners to update permits and achieve objectives, 3) data analysis, and 4) publication of results in scholarly journals. The successful applicant will also have the opportunity to continue work on, or develop, other avian research related to the mission of the Migratory Bird Center. The position will be supervised by Dr. Nathan W. Cooper (https://nationalzoo.si.edu/about/staff/nathan-w-cooper).
· A Ph.D. in Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Biology, or related fields
· Experience using a variety of capture techniques to catch raptors, ideally Merlins or other small falcons
· Experience attaching tracking tags to raptors, ideally Merlins or other small falcons
· The ability to develop and carry out independent field research
· Basic data analysis skills
· Excellent written communication skills as evidenced by publications in peer-reviewed journals
· Experience capturing, caring for, and using lure birds such as Starlings and/or House Sparrow to aid in capture of raptors
· Experience leading small teams to achieve research goals
· Nest finding, behavioral observations, and tree climbing
· Experience working with management agencies and landowners to obtain permits and communicate results
· Analysis of tracking data such as home range analysis
Location and Duration: The position will be based in the Washington DC-Maryland-Virginia metro area and the successful applicant will be required to work on site 1-2 days per week (when not on travel for fieldwork) at our office located in beautiful Rock Creek Park. We currently have funding for two years of support. The position will last one year, but it will be extended for a second year assuming satisfactory progress towards the project’s goals. Further support beyond two years is possible but will depend on the availability of funding.
Eligibility: U.S. citizenship is not required, however the candidate must either already possess status to work in the U.S. at Smithsonian or must be eligible for Smithsonian sponsorship. Please note that processing time for anyone requiring Smithsonian sponsorship (3-6 months) may preclude selection based on the timing of our grant deliverables.
Salary and Benefits: The position will be filled at the IS-9 level (Smithsonian Trust position equivalent to a GS-9 Federal Pay Scale). With the cost-of-living adjustment, the salary is currently $61,947 per year with health and retirement benefits (https://www.si.edu/ohr/benefits).
Required Travel: The candidate will be expected to travel to Michigan or elsewhere in the Great Lakes region for the duration of the field season in 2023 and 2024. Travel will be covered by the grant.
Start date: Fall 2022 (September-November). We will conduct virtual interviews beginning in early August. Following selection and acceptance, the hiring process includes a federal background check.
To apply: Please submit the following to Nathan W. Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org) as a single .pdf document entitled “YOUR_LAST_NAME_Merlin_Postdoc.pdf”
· An email with YOUR_LAST_NAME_Merlin_Postdoc in the subject line
· A 1-2 page cover letter that describes your interest in the position and your career goals and clearly demonstrates how your past research experience provides you with the above qualifications
· A current C.V.
· An example of your scientific writing
· The names and contact information for three professional references
Applications deadline has been extended. Please apply by Aug 19 for full consideration. Email Nathan W. Cooper (email@example.com) with any questions about the application process or the position itself.
About us: Come join a team of dedicated staff at the Migratory Bird Center, part of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, comprised of 19 museums and galleries, nine research centers, 21 libraries and the National Zoological Park. The Migratory Bird Center was founded by an act of Congress and is dedicated to understanding, conserving, and championing the grand phenomenon of bird migration.
The Smithsonian Institution is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. To best serve our current and future visitors we strive to maximize the diversity, equity, and inclusiveness of our organization. Therefore, we encourage candidates that represent and embody the diversity found within our community to apply.