4-Year PhD Assistantship in Herbivore Foraging and Movement Ecology

4-Year Ph.D. Assistantship in Herbivore Foraging and Movement Ecology Anticipated Start Date: Summer 2018

The Quantitative Ecology and Spatial Technologies Laboratory at Mississippi State University, in collaboration with the Department of Animal and Dairy Science and the Noble Research Institute, is seeking a highly motivated student for a 4-year Ph.D. assistantship in herbivore foraging and movement ecology with a specific focus on beef cattle as an experimental system. The student will investigate how foraging behavior and movement influence energy budgets of grazing cattle, and how these budgets relate to animal production and individual fitness. This is a federally funded project through USDA-NIFA with emphases on metabolic theory, space utilization, and Bayesian hierarchical modeling. The successful candidate will gain substantial experience in (1) managing and leading data collection efforts across multiple field sites; (2) construction of movement trajectories from accelerometry (“dead reckoning”); (3) supervised and unsupervised classification algorithms;
(4) analysis and interpretation of GPS-based and dead-reckoned relocation data, and accommodation of error in relocation data; and, (5) hierarchical modeling in both frequentist and Bayesian frameworks. The candidate also will be expected to develop multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts.

A stipend for living expenses will be provided ($23,500 per year), as well as complete tuition remission and health insurance, for a total of
4 years. The selected candidate also will be strongly encouraged to apply for stipend support through the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) and federal initiatives (e.g., NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program).

Minimum: An MSc in ecology, wildlife management, animal science, agroecology, precision agriculture, statistics, or a related discipline.
Capable of working under strenuous conditions for extended periods (i.e., hot and humid conditions, exposure to biting and stinging insects, etc.). Minimum GPA = 3.25 and GRE = 150.

Preferred: Demonstrable experience in Bayesian statistics and/or hierarchical modeling, managing and manipulating “big data”, and writing technical documents and journal articles is strongly desired. Additional qualifications include field experience in animal handling, GPS collaring, domestic livestock husbandry, and forage quality and quantity measurements; and familiarity with Program R, GIS software, and Gibbs and/or NUTS samplers (e.g., JAGS, WinBUGS, Stan). Minimum GPA = 3.5, GRE Quantitative = 160, and GRE Analytical Writing = 4.

To apply, please send the following items: (1) Cover letter describing credentials and professional goals; (2) an up-to-date curriculum vitae;
(3) a list of references (3 at minimum); and (4) unofficial copies of all university transcripts and GRE\TOELF scores. Formal application to Mississippi State University, including official transcripts and GRE/TOEFL scores, is required subsequent to selection of a successful candidate.

Please send all application materials to Dr. Garrett M. Street (gms246@msstate.edu).