Job: Technician/PhD student – study on nonlethal tools to reduce large carnivore predation on livestock in western states of the US


Start Date: February or March 2021 

Compensation: Annual stipend, tuition, and health insurance 

Description: Utah State University is seeking a Ph.D. student to conduct research as part of a large, collaborative team awarded a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). The applicant will begin as a technician until summer/fall when the applicant can enroll as a graduate student to allow for a mid-spring semester start date.  

The CIG team is led by personnel with Heart of the Rockies and Western Landowners Alliance (WLA), but also includes Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative (WA), Lava Lake Land & Livestock (ID), Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (MT), Spur Lake Cattle Company (AZ/NM), USDA-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS), Defenders of Wildlife, state wildlife agencies, and other organizations. The grant integrates research, outreach, and implementation of nonlethal tools for reducing large carnivore predation on livestock in seven western US states. The student will work with the research team of Drs. Julie K. Young (USDA-WS-National Wildlife Research Center), Kyran Kunkel (University of Montana; Conservation Science Collaborative), and Stewart Breck (USDA-WS-NWRC) to (1) conduct empirical research on the efficacy of nonlethal tools such as fencing, range riding, and carcass removal efforts, (2) use existing data for broad-scale analyses of nonlethal tools, (3) work with the other organizations on outreach and educational materials, and (4) participate in frequent meetings with ranchers, the CIG team, and state and federal agency staff. The student will be housed in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University and can apply for a degree from this department or from Utah State University’s Ecology Center (preferred).  

Minimum qualifications: Ability to work extensively with ranchers and range riders in remote field conditions, previous experience working in or studying agriculture, great listening and communication skills, independent field research experience, excellent written communication skills, quantitative skills, and at least minimum qualifications for admission to USU’s graduate school.  

Desired qualifications: M.S. degree in ecology, wildlife biology, agriculture, or related field. Experience working with a variety of groups and organizations, including livestock producers, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies. Experience conducting research, analyzing data in R and/or Python, and presenting and publishing ecological/agricultural data. The capacity to develop and apply quantitative models to address research questions.  

A single pdf file, with the subject line “CIG PhD Assistantship” should be emailed to, and, and include the following materials: 

  1. cover letter describing relevant experience, why you are interested in this position, and professional goals,  
  2. CV or resume, and 
  3. contact information for three professional references.  

Review of applications will begin 11 January 2021, with interviews expected the first week of February. Top candidates will be interviewed by a panel, including the 3 researchers and 2-3 rancher participants. The selected candidate will need to apply to USU once a tentative offer has been made. An offer will be officially made once the applicant’s material is accepted by USU’s graduate school and contracts have been completed with the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant. Please note that the Department of Wildland Resources no longer requires GRE scores for admission.  

We encourage applicants from underrepresented groups. Utah State University does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy, Title IX, or any other federal, state, or local law. 

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