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  • REU student position in avian conservation and ecology in the Galapagos Islands

    Guest Sarah Knutie
    • Employer: University of Connecticut
      Location: Storrs, CT and Galapagos Islands
      Country: Ecuador
      Last Date to Apply: 08/30/2022
      Open Until Filled: No

    Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Connecticut
    Join us in the Galapagos Islands!

    The Knutie Lab is recruiting an undergraduate student for the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program for fieldwork in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador in 2023. We study the effect of invasive avian vampire flies and urbanization on Darwin’s finches. In 2023, our main goal is to determine whether urban finches have evolved better resistance to flies compared to non-urban birds by using a common garden experiment (i.e., cross fostering study). The student will be involved in this project but also centrally involved in an independent research project related to the influence of human debris in bird nests (e.g., cigarette butts) on parasite resistance in Darwin’s finches.

    Spring semester will be spent conducting field work in the Galapagos (02/15-05/15) and Summer (05/16-07/18) will be spent analyzing data and writing a manuscript, along with other career development activities. A full-time training session (including field first aid training for a non-Uconn student) and field preparation will also occur from 01/17-02/14 in Storrs, CT. Because the REU is conducted during the spring semester, students must confirm that their academic institution will allow for a leave of absence without losing student status or whether they can enroll in internship credits for their research during the spring semester (see below for more information).

    Prospective students are required to have a central interest in ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation. Experience in field biology is definitely a plus! The equatorial field work, which includes living in the Galapagos for 3 months, is often met with intense and frustrating conditions (e.g. 9+ mile hikes on uneven lava rock, intense sun exposure, 110F heat, unrelenting mosquitoes, isolation, etc.). Therefore, a number of qualifications are required and preferred for this position:

    Required Qualifications:
    •    Reliable.
    •    Ability to hike up to 9 miles on uneven lava rock, carrying field gear.
    •    Have enthusiasm and experience with the outdoors.
    •    Can wake up at 4am for field work that starts at 5am.
    •    Have a valid passport.
    •    Can work and live as a team but also work independently.
    •    Have international insurance during the field work.
    •    Conversational in Spanish OR a beginner but have the desire to learn.
    •    Meets entry requirements for Ecuador.
    •    Interest in a career in conservation biology, evolution, ecology and/or behavior.

    Preferred Qualifications:
    •    Experience with extreme heat and humidity.
    •    Experience with any field work or field-based classes.
    •    Fluent in Spanish.
    •    Field first aid trained.
    •    Experience with data entry, especially google spreadsheets.

    This position is open to United States Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents. Eligible applicants must be over 18 years of age and enrolled in a program of undergraduate study immediately before and after the program dates. Underrepresented groups and students attending UConn or colleges or universities with limited STEM research opportunities are particularly encouraged to apply. The following are covered by the REU program: return airfare (to and from the Galapagos Islands), shared UConn campus and Galapagos accommodation, and a US$650 weekly stipend; medical/travel insurance is the responsibility of the student. Students must commit to the entire program (no late arrivals or early departures). Successful candidates are encouraged to arrange for independent study credit through their home institutions. Students will also have the opportunity to attend the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in Seattle, WA in January 2024 with the Knutie Lab to present their research.

    To apply for this position, please fill out the following google form (https://forms.gle/tK1gB9ut6xgAVQZv7) and in the google form, attach a cover letter, resume, and references that can speak to your reliability and qualifications. The deadline to apply is August 30, 2022. Please e-mail Dr. Knutie with any questions: sarah.knutie@uconn.edu

    Internship credit consideration

    Students may be able to receive academic credit for conducting research (i.e., internship) in the Galapagos. If you are a student interested in earning academic credit, you must research this option with your home institution prior to applying for this position.

    The following steps might be useful to consider: 
    •    Provide this ad to your Academic Advisor or Study Abroad Coordinator and follow with a discussion of the option of an independent program (internship) that will provide you with unique educational benefits. 
    •    Work with your Academic Advisor to ensure that the internship meets your institute's academic requirements. 
    •    At the end of the internship, Dr. Knutie will provide you with a signed document that you may submit to your school with information on the internship, location, dates, a short description of the research project and the hours dedicated to the internship. 
    •    Submit all completed documentation to your Academic Advisor when you finish your Galapagos visit. Make sure the final documentation is filed with your Academic office, Study Abroad Office, or Internship Office at your home university. 

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