MS or PhD Graduate Assistantship – Human Dimensions of Shorebird Disturbance and Social Conflict

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Deadline to Apply:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 5:00pm


Blacksburg, VA
United States

Job Category:




Job Type:


Job Description:


Motivated and hardworking M.S. or Ph.D. student needed to study the human dimensions of wildlife, particularly human disturbance of shorebirds and associated social conflict over management. The student will conduct land manager surveys and beach recreationist focus groups, onsite surveys, and observations to better understand the drivers of Atlantic Coast shorebird disturbance by beach recreationists, how to effectively promote human behaviors that address this disturbance, and how to reduce social conflict over beach recreation area management.  Using these findings and field data collected by partners, the student will help develop a social marketing strategy for appropriate human behaviors that might be positively impacted by communications. Student may also conduct quasi-experimental research, testing the efficacy of outreach and communications strategies. The student will join a transdisciplinary project team of social and ecological scientists and conservation practitioners from the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program, Dayer Human Dimensions Lab, Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative.

Student will receive her/his degree in Fish and Wildlife Conservation and be part of the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab (  If a Ph.D. student, student will also be encouraged to apply to the interdisciplinary graduate education program Interfaces of Global Change ( which offers unique intellectual focus and training in the realm of global change and the science-policy interface.

Minimum qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in human dimensions, fisheries, wildlife, natural resources, or related discipline with coursework in social sciences (for PhD: MS degree required)
  • GPA of 3.5 or higher (over the last 60 credit hours)
  • Demonstrated research experience (data collection, analysis, and writing)
  • Background in communications, policy, management, and/or conservation
  • Experience working directly with the public and/or recreationists
  • Interest in social science research
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience developing survey research instruments and facilitating meetings and/or focus groups
  • Knowledge of shorebird disturbance and/or conflict over shorebird management
  • Experience with GIS
  • Advanced quantitative skills including analysis in SPSS or R
  • Experience applying social science theory to conservation research questions (for PhD)
  • Experience publishing scientific research (for PhD)


Position Start Date:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Job Duration:


How to Apply:

Submit a single pdf including:

1) cover letter summarizing interest in the position, qualifications, and experience, as well as research and career goals

2) Curriculum Vitae

3) academic transcripts (can be unofficial)

4) GRE scores (can be unofficial)

5) Names, contact information, and short description of relationship for three professional references


Submit via email to Dr. Dayer ( Please put “Shorebird HD application” in the email subject line. Selected applicant will also need to apply to the Virginia Tech Graduate School before acceptance.

Job Compensation:

Academic Credit



Compensation Information:

The student will be supported with a research or teaching assistantship (~$22-25,000 stipend per year), a full tuition waiver, and student health benefits.