Assistantships Available

MS or PhD Assistantship in Fisheries Population Dynamics and Conservation

One master or PhD Graduate Research/Teaching Assistantships is available as soon as suitable candidate is found in population dynamics and conservation. The Master student research will focus on analyzing sea bird bycatch modeling for the Atlantic pelagic longline. The PhD candidate will analyze large database to detect spatial issues and incorporating spatial dynamics into population dynamics and stock assessment. The most qualified applicant will have a strong quantitative background, strong interest in fisheries population dynamics and simulation modeling. See example previous publications related to the projects from our team. Duties will include proposal writing, manage and analyze large data-sets, coordinate with other investigators, and prepare reports and presentations for scientific audiences. Applicants must have a BS or MS in Biology, Fisheries, Natural Resources or similar area for entrance in the program.

Stipend: $21,444 for master student and $$23,928 for PhD student, plus tuition and student health benefits. Position is supported by GRA/GTA.

Closing Date: As soon as suitable candidate is found. Review begins immediately.

Expected Starting Date: summer or fall semester of 2016.

Interested applicants should submit the following: letter of interest, three references, unofficial transcripts, and CV to: Dr. Yan Jiao, ( ; ). Selected applicant will need to apply to the Virginia Tech Graduate School before acceptance.

Example recent publications from Dr. Yan Jiao and her students related to the projects (see more from Dr. Jiao's website).

  • Jiao, Y., O'Reilly, R., Smith, E., and Orth, D. 2016. Integrating spatial synchrony/asynchrony of population distribution into stock assessment models: a spatial hierarchical Bayesian statistical catch-at-age approach. ICES Journal of Marine Science. (Editor's Choice) doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsw036
  • Li, Y., Jiao, Y., and Browder, J. 2016. Modeling spatially-varying ecological relationships using geographically weighted generalized linear model: a simulation study based on longline seabird bycatch. Fisheries Research. Fisheries Research. 181: 14-24
  • Liu, C., Wan, R., Jiao, Y., and Reid, K. 2016. Exploring nonstationary and scale-dependent relationships between walleye (Sander vitreus) distribution and habitat variables in Lake Erie. Marine and Freshwater Research.
  • Li, Y., and Jiao, Y. 2013. Modeling seabird bycatch in the U.S. Atlantic pelagic longline fishery: a simulation study on random year effect versus fixed year effect. Ecological Modeling. 260: 36-41
  • Jiao, Y., Smith, E., O'Reilly, R., and Orth, D. 2012. Modeling nonstationary natural mortality in catch-at-age models: an example using the Atlantic weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 69:105-118.

Ph.D. Graduate Assistantship on Bog Turtle Conservation Planning

Description: A potential graduate position for a doctoral student may be available Fall 2016, contingent on funding. The Ph.D. student would evaluate potential habitat for bog turtles in southwestern Virginia, and estimate changes over time in population size and growth rates using a previously developed GIS model and a long-term mark-recapture database. Major goals are to work closely with state agency personnel to develop a conservation plan based on trends in land use and human population growth and to improve our understanding of wetland size and connectivity required to maintain viable populations of bog turtles.

Qualifications: Bachelor's and master's degrees in Fisheries & Wildlife, Ecology, or related fields. Successful applicants typically have published in a peer-reviewed journal, and have an undergraduate GPA above 3.3 and GREs above 50th percentile. Experience with conservation planning, demographic analyses, occupancy modeling, wetland habitats, and/or GIS is desirable.

Anticipated starting date: August 2016

To apply: Applicants should submit a letter of interest and a c.v. (including undergraduate and M.S. grade point average and GRE scores) as well as contact information for three references. Letters of interest received by May 10th will ensure full consideration. Promising candidates will need to submit an official application to the graduate school at Virginia Tech (

Contact information: Dr. Carola A. Haas, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences, Mail Code 0321, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060,, 1-540-231-9269. Please put "bog turtle grad position" in subject line of emails to Professor Haas.

M.S. Graduate assistantship on gopher tortoise habitat use and activity and movement patterns

We are recruiting candidates for an M.S. position starting August 2016 to study gopher tortoises at Eglin Air Force Base on the Florida Panhandle. Stipend during the first academic year will be through a departmental assistantship and duties will include assisting with the departmental vertebrate museum collection as well as serving as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA). Summer stipend will be through a research grant. Candidate must be willing to work collaboratively, including conducting field work as required by a sponsored contract, summarizing data for and writing reports, assisting with proposals, and co-authoring papers, with professional Virginia Tech biologists located in Florida as well as with faculty mentor. Student will have some flexibility in research focus, but at least part of the work may involve analyzing camera-trapping data on tortoise activity patterns and vegetation comparisons between habitat types.

Qualifications: Successful applicants usually have an undergraduate GPA above 3.3 and GREs above 50th percentile. Candidates should have a Bachelor's degree in Fisheries & Wildlife, Ecology, or related field. Field experience with wildlife management and research is desirable. Strong preference for candidates that have work experience post-graduation, ability to identify plants of the southeastern U.S. or demonstrated ability to learn, and those who have published or presented research results.

Anticipated starting date: August 2016

To apply: Applicants should submit a letter of interest and a c.v. (including grade point average and GRE scores) as well as contact information for three references. Review of applicants will begin May 11. Promising candidates will need to submit an official application to the graduate school at Virginia Tech (

Contact information: Dr. Carola A. Haas, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences, Mail Code 0321, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061,, 1-540-231-9269. Please put "gopher tortoise grad position" in subject line of emails to Professor Haas.

MS Graduate Assistantship - Human Dimensions of Habitat Conservation on Private Lands

Description: One to two M.S. positions, studying the human dimensions of habitat conservation on private lands, will be available in Fall 2016, contingent upon funding. The M.S. student(s) will conduct mail and phone survey research with private landowners currently or previously enrolled in Farm Bill - funded financial incentive programs to implement conservation practices. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the USDA funding agency and biologists conducting complementary research on the biological effectiveness of programs. Answers to the studies' research questions will inform future efforts to promote recruitment and retention of landowners in habitat management activities, as well as promote habitat stewardship beyond the time of payments. Furthermore, information about social effectiveness and social factors will be paired with information about biological effectiveness to determine how these two aspects of the conservation programs relate.


  • BS degree in human dimensions, fisheries, wildlife, natural resources, or related discipline with coursework in social sciences
  • GPA of 3.4 or higher
  • GRE scores at or above 160 in verbal and quantitative areas
  • Demonstrated research experience (data collection, analysis, and writing)
  • Experience working with private landowners
  • Background in policy, management, or conservation
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Salary: The student will be supported with a research or teaching assistantship for 2 years (~$21,000 stipend per year), a full tuition waiver, and student health benefits.

Start date: August 16, 2016 (Applications considered until April 18, 2016 or suitable applicant found.)

To apply by April 18, 2016:

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 "Private landowner HD application" in the email subject line.

Contact Person: Dr. Ashley Dayer
Contact email:

Ph.D. Graduate Assistantship: Ecology of Bats Post-White-nose Syndrome from an Urban to Rural Gradient

Agency: Virginia Tech and the U.S. Geological Survey Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Job Description: We are seeking a qualified and motivated individual interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Conservation with a strong focus on urban ecology. This position is fully funded for three years, and will begin in May 2016, although a start date of January 2016 is possible. The student will be supported by a research assistantship with an annual stipend of ≥ $22,000 and a full tuition waver. Per department requirements, the student will be expected to serve as a teaching assistant for one semester during the doctoral program.

This project has a specific focus on post-White-nose Syndrome patterns in bat community in the National Capital Region across an urban to rural gradient from Rock Creek Park in city center to the wholly forested Appalachians, i.e., Catoctin Mountain Park, Harper's Ferry National Monument and the C&O Canal National Monument in western Maryland. The incumbent also will be expected to work collaboratively on other bat research projects in the mid-Atlantic on other national parks, national forests and Department of Defense facilities. The main objectives of this project are to assess post-disease patterns in bat activity and day-roosting ecology in the National Capital region and to compare these to data from the same sites 15 years ago. The incumbent will be responsible for development of secondary objectives and associated projects that will enhance the value-added nature of the work. The project will involve a mix of acoustic sampling, mist-netting, radio-tracking to day-roosts and winter hibernacula surveys.

Qualifications: Minimum qualifications include a M.S. in wildlife biology/ecology or related field, GPA of 3.4 or greater, and competitive GRE scores. Candidate should have a strong work ethic, ability to work independently, advanced problem solving skills, high motivation, and deep underlying interest in urban landscape ecology and urban wildlife biology. Experience working with bats is desirable.

Beneficial qualifications: Advanced geospatial and quantitative skills including experience conducting statistical analyses using scripted programs such as R. Database management experience and basic familiarity with SQL or strong willingness to learn.

To apply, send a single pdf document containing 1) cover letter, 2) CV, 3) transcripts (can be unofficial), 4) GRE scores, and 5) names, contact information, and short description of relationship, for 3 references simultaneously to Dr. W. Mark Ford ( and Dr. Alexander Silvis ( Please put "NCR bat application" in the subject line.

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: