Website New Mexico State University

Project title: M.S. Assistantship – Waterfowl use of stock tanks in arid environments: New Mexico

Location: Las Cruces, NM

Job Category: Graduate Assistantships

Salary: See description

Start Date: 1/1/2023

Last Date to Apply: 9/30/2022




The Lawson Lab in the New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology and the Wright Lab in the Department of Biology at New Mexico State University (NMSU) invite applications for an MS assistantship beginning in January 2023. The successful applicant will be part of a new study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management, the University of Texas – El Paso, and NMSU. The student will be co-mentored by Dr. Abby Lawson (USGS/NMSU) and Dr. Tim Wright (NMSU), and will work closely with Dr. Dan Collins (USFWS).


The graduate research project will focus on evaluating the use of stock tanks (diked wetlands) by Mexican ducks and other dabbling duck species in southeastern Arizona. Waterfowl will be captured using a combination of rocket netting and swim-in traps, and approximately 20 birds will be marked with satellite transmitters. The student will be expected to assist with field work (scheduled for January 2023), and work with the Principal Investigators to develop thesis questions related to habitat use and movement patterns.


In addition to the research project, the student will be part of a new, USDA-funded program based at NMSU that focuses on preparing students for careers in applied conservation of migratory birds in a rapidly changing climate. Students in the program will receive hands-on training through a series of workshops, and complete a set of core courses including Science Ethics, Science Communication, and Migration Biology with a field component in Costa Rica. Graduate students affiliated with the program will be team-mentored, including a mentor based in a state or federal agency, and will have travel funding available to present their research at a national conference.


Salary and Benefits: Each academic year the student will be supported by one semester of a Teaching Assistantship in the Department of Biology, and a Research Assistantship for the other semester, equating to $18,432 over the 9-month academic year, over two years. During the TA-supported semester the student will receive a waiver for in-state tuition, whereas during the RA-supported semester they will receive a full tuition waiver and up to $200/month health insurance reimbursement (NMSU does not currently offer a graduate student health insurance plan). The faculty mentors will work with the student to acquire additional extramural funding for student support.



Required: B.S. in wildlife, environmental sciences, organismal biology, or related field and possession of a valid U.S. driver’s license. The successful applicant must also meet the minimum requirements for admission to the NMSU Graduate School (3.0 GPA in the last two years of undergrad). Applicants should also have demonstrated excellent written and oral communication skills, exposure to quantitative methods, experience conducting field work, and an ability to work independently while following safety protocols. Preference will be given to those with a background in waterfowl and/or spatial ecology as demonstrated through previous field experience and coursework such as R, ArcGIS/QGIS.


To apply, please submit an application through our online portal. Applicants will be asked to provide the following in a single PDF: (1) letter of interest that describes their qualifications and how this position fits into their career goals; (2) CV or resume that includes contact information for three references (including a field supervisor); and (3) unofficial university transcripts. Individuals from underrepresented minority group are strongly encouraged to apply. Submit an application by September 30th for full consideration.


Link to application portal:


Contact: Dr. Abby Lawson ([email protected]) & Dr. Tim Wright ([email protected])



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