Natural Resources Job Board

M.S. Assistantship – Exploring urban bird communities through landscape ecology and participatory science

Mississippi State University Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (State) |

Application Deadline:
Starting Date:
before 8/1/2024
Hours per Week:
at least 39
starting at $20,000 per year
Education Required:
Experience Required:
Starkville, Mississippi
Graduate Opportunities
Project Description: It’s well known that urbanization impacts avian biodiversity and community structure. However, do pockets of built, more densely populated spaces surrounding a rural landscape have similar impacts? This project explores how fine-scale urbanization influences bird communities in a southern, college town. Additionally, this project is interested in gathering data about who participates in citizen science in this area, and if participation builds connection to nature in urbanized spaces. 
The selected M.S. student will measure degree of urbanization at various locations through recordings of sound pollution, light pollution, temperature, and impervious surface. Student will work to create and monitor a citizen science database of local bird observations, as well as the demographics of those who contribute to those observations. Student will use this database and their collected data to 1) map species richness and abundance in the built environment of a predominantly “rural” college town, and 2) evaluate local participation in citizen science and connection to nature on a college campus. Student will also have opportunities to network with urban ecology researchers and partner with citizen science experts at Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, and other institutions. 
Salary / Benefits: This position will include 2 years of funding, including a $20,000 stipend through a research assistantship, tuition waver, and health benefits. Student will also be expected to take on one TA position per semester. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology, Ecology, Citizen Science, Human Dimensions, or a related field 
  • Experience or high interest in Ornithology and Mississippi bird identification 
  • Experience or high interest in participatory science projects and social science 
  • Must demonstrate ability to work independently and with a team 
  • Must demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Ability to work in GIS and/or Program R preferred, but not required 
To Apply: I highly encourage applicants from historically underrepresented groups in science or non-traditional backgrounds to apply for this position. GRE Scores are not required. Please email a single pdf containing the following information: 
  1. Cover letter addressing educational background, skills, previous research experience, and career goals 
  2. CV 
  3. Unofficial transcript 
  4. Names and contact information for at least three references 
Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
Start Date: Summer or Fall 2024 
Contact: Dr. Murry Burgess (; 
Dr. Murry Burgess (preferred contact method)