Assistantships Available

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


Motivated and hardworking Ph.D. student needed to study the human dimensions of habitat conservation on private lands. The Ph.D. student will conduct mail survey research with private landowners in the Playa Lakes region who are currently or previously enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (a Farm Bill - funded financial incentive program) and qualitative research related to working wet meadows with private landowners and conservation professionals in the Intermountain West. The projects will be conducted in close collaboration with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, migratory bird habitat joint ventures, 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 potentially 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. Students will receive their PhD in Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and will 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.

Minium Qualifications:

  • MS 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)
  • Background in policy, management, or conservation
  • Interest in interdisciplinary (social and biological) research
  • Commitment to working at the science-policy interface
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience developing survey research instruments and facilitating meetings and/or focus groups
  • Knowledge of private lands issues in the Midwest and West
  • Experience applying social science theory to conservation research questions
  • Advanced geospatial and quantitative skills including analysis in SPSS or R

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

Start date: early January 2017 (Applications considered until September 30, 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. Selected applicant will also need to apply to the Virginia Tech Graduate School before acceptance.

Contact Person: Dr. Ashley Dayer
Contact email:

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: