Assistantships Available

M.S. or Ph.D. Graduate Assistantship - Social and Ecological Aspects of Amphibian Conservation on Private Lands

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech seeks to fill a M.S. or Ph.D. position focused on coupled sociological and ecological aspects of the conservation of an imperiled giant salamander. The work will take place in Appalachian streams adjacent to agricultural and forested private lands. The student's social science research will focus on private landowner attitudes and stewardship behaviors in Appalachia, how they relate to stream restoration and eastern hellbender conservation efforts, and the role of landowner interactions with conservation scientists in promoting changes in conservation behaviors. The project will build upon our ongoing work using underwater nest boxes as a conservation and restoration tool. The ecological aspect of the project offers flexibility, and can relate to the conservation physiology, reproductive ecology, and/or disease ecology of hellbenders under field conditions. The successful candidate will work as part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists from several Universities and interact with diverse stakeholders including landowners in rural communities, and scientists from multiple state and federal agencies.

The successful candidate will be fully funded (tuition and stipend) on a combination of graduate research assistantships and graduate teaching assistantships. The candidate will be co-advised by Drs. William A. Hopkins and Ashley A. Dayer.

Qualifications: Applicants should have a strong interest and a prior degree in conservation biology, social sciences (preferably psychology, sociology, or communications), human dimensions, ecology or related discipline. Applicants should have extensive past research experience (preferably social & ecological), an outstanding academic record and GRE scores, and evidence of strong writing and relevant methodological skills. Applicants must show an aptitude for interdisciplinary study and communication with non-scientific audiences; experience with landowner outreach or other extension or public education activities preferred.

Applicants for a M.S. position will have the option to transition to a Ph.D. position after meeting departmental criteria. Applicants for a Ph.D. position must possess a M.S. degree and experience publishing their research. Ph.D. applicants will be encouraged to enroll in the Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Graduate Program which provides additional training on the role of science in society, science-policy, and science communication.

Start date for the assistantship is May 2018. Deadline for applications is January 22nd, 2018. However, applications will be reviewed as they are received.

To apply, please email a single PDF file to Tara Craig (Admin Assistant) at containing (1) a one page cover letter outlining your research interests, career goals, relevant experience for this position, preference for M.S. or Ph.D. position, and preferred start date; (2) your CV; (3) undergraduate/graduate transcripts and GRE scores; and (4) full contact information for at least 3 professional references. The subject line of the email must read: Hellbender Graduate Position.

M.Sc./Ph.D. positions in Biogeography and Ecology of Infectious Diseases

Salary: This position includes tuition and salary support
Start Date: 08/10/2018
Last Date to Apply: 01/15/2018

Many studies have shown that infectious diseases do not occur at random; outbreaks occur under specific environmental conditions and are promote by specific human behaviors. In order to effectively control and anticipate epidemics, research is needed in current analytical methods used to analyze epidemiological data and develop new theoretical frameworks to understand the complex links among epidemics humans behavior and the environment. MS and/or PhD student positions are available for Fall 2018 to conduct research in the areas of biogeography, spatial ecology, and disease ecology. The intended research will use epidemiology ecological niche modeling and other analytical tools to study infectious diseases affecting humans, plants, and domesticated and non-domesticated animals in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In addition to research work, responsibilities may include acquiring teaching experience, international internships, raising extramural funding, and mentoring of undergraduate students. We are seeking highly motivated students to be part of a research team investigating diseases using theory and methods from ecology and biogeography. Preference will be given to candidates with evident passion for these topics and strong quantitative and writing skills.

The positions are based within Dr. Luis Escobar's Laboratory in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, which is affiliated to the Global Change Center and part of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment, the No. 1 ranked natural resources program in the US (by USA Today) for three years running.This position includes tuition and salary support

The Escobar Laboratory is a highly collaborative lab that works with researchers in universities across the US, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, as well as state, federal, and non-governmental agencies.

Virginia Tech's main campus is located in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The New River Valley offers the charm of a small town combined with the modern conveniences of a metropolitan area. The thriving community boasts a plethora of unique and chain restaurants and stores, symphonies, theatres, historical attractions, museums, a vibrant night-life, sporting events, outdoor recreation activities, and a temperate climate. We have mountains to the west, the ocean to the east, and Washington D.C. to the north.

Qualifications: The Escobar Laboratory has a long history of multidisciplinary research. Students from diverse backgrounds with interest in joining the lab are encouraged to apply. A B.S. in wildlife, ecology, computer sciences, statistics, mathematics, or related fields are welcomed. Applicants must have a strong work ethic; excellent quantitative and oral and written communication skills; high attention to detail; the ability to work independently and collaborative within a culturally diverse team; and the physical and mental capacity to work long hours. Preference will be given to candidates who have previously conducted research. A prior DVM or a MS in ecology, epidemiology, or related biological or health sciences would be a plus for the Ph.D. position, although not required.

To apply: Send a single pdf including: 1) a cover letter of no more than two pages that highlights your research interests, interest in graduate school, and interest in infectious diseases; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) unofficial transcripts; 4) sample of scientific writing (e.g., a manuscript in preparation, an undergraduate thesis); and 5) contact information for 3 references. Application consideration will begin January 15, 2018 and continue until the positions are filled. References will only be contacted after applicants are notified. Contact Dr. Luis Escobar at for additional questions.

Contact Person
Dr. Luis E. Escobar

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.



Dana Keith
Assistant to Department Head
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM100, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5573
Fax: (540) 231-7580


Dr. Sarah Karpanty 
Graduate Program Coordinator 

Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM150, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-4586
Fax: (540) 231-7580


Stephanie Hart, Director
The Advising Center
Cheatham Hall, RM138, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5482 Email: