Job Postings

PhD Graduate Assistantship Modeling Avian Distributions

We have an opening for a fully funded PhD graduate research assistantship focused on spatial modeling and avian ecology in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) at Auburn University. The position will be co-supervised by Dr. Jonathon Valente ( of the USGS Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (, and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk of the CFWE ( The student’s project will focus on integrating remotely sensed data with bird observations collected in the field and across different levels of statistical and methodological rigor (i.e., citizen science observations, nationwide structured surveys, and local point count efforts) to develop robust statewide species distribution models for breeding birds. Specific dissertation chapters will be developed by the student in consultation with Drs. Valente and Lepczyk, but at least one must meet the objectives of understanding long-term changes in avian habitat on state-owned Wildlife Management Areas and developing/improving models to predict avian responses to future habitat management. The project will entail coordination of an extensive field-based survey effort, and use of advanced population modeling tools to develop spatially explicit distribution maps and uncover the underlying mechanisms driving those patterns. This research is being conducted as part of a larger multi-taxa effort to understand the impacts of historical management activities on biodiversity of local wildlife and to inform future approaches to habitat management on state lands. As part of this effort, the student 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 begins fall semester of 2023 (August 16th). 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.

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:
• 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

Salary: $28,000 per year, plus tuition remission and benefits

How to Apply:
Interested individuals should contact Dr. Jonathon Valente ([email protected]) and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk ([email protected]) 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 April 16th, but we encourage you to apply as soon as possible because applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. More information about our graduate program can be found here:


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