Summer research assistant position: epiphyte ecology in Hoh Rainforest

Research assistant position:

Research assistant needed for summer ecology field work in Hoh Rainforest ($2000 stipend, plus room included)

Project description:

NSF-funded postdoctoral scholar in Biology at the University of Puget Sound is currently taking applications for a paid field assistant in old growth temperate rainforest stands near Olympic National Forest, Forks, Washington. These old-growth forests are in part iconic for their abundant epiphytes, or structurally dependent plants such as mosses and ferns growing on the trees. Epiphytes are a vital component of plant diversity, provide resources for animals, and contribute to nutrient cycling in these rainforests.  For example, epiphytes can have more leaf biomass the host trees in which they live! However, because many epiphytes live up in the canopy (and you have to climb the trees to access them), our understanding of their community assembly lags far behind that of terrestrial plants. The goal of the project is to set up a large long-term experiment testing epiphyte community development hypotheses, and compare the results to a parallel project in Santa Fe National Park, Panama.

Field assistant will aid postdoc in setting up the infrastructure of the project and performing initial plant surveys.  Duties will include building common garden tables, hauling equipment in and out of the field site, rigging and climbing trees, identifying, photographing, and approximating cover of vascular and nonvascular plants, and entering data.  Comparative work to Panama project, if assistant is interested, will involve Spanish language.  Field work will take place from June 1st-July 31st 2020. Field assistant will be trained in basic tree-climbing methods and safety techniques.  Strict protocols will be taken to maintain social distancing, limit exposure to other people, and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Housing and field site are very rural, with limited contact with other people.

Individuals who identify as belonging to groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields are particularly encouraged to apply. If you think you would be great for this position but do not have all of the requirements, apply anyway.

Skills gained/used in the internship:

Research assistant will gain a wide variety of valuable ecological field techniques as well as hands-on research experience:

-Single-rope climbing techniques used to access tree canopies (up to 35m or 115Ãf¢ÒÂEURÃ’Â(tm) high).

-Recognizing and identifying epiphytic plants (especially mosses and liverworts) -Measuring canopy openness with a spherical densiometer -Measuring heights in the canopy with a laser rangefinder -Approximating vegetation cover of nonvascular and vascular epiphytes -Taking high-quality photographs of plants -Collecting, pressing, and preparing plants for deposition in herbaria -Prepping plants in Silica for DNA extraction -Spanish language (if not previously fluent) -Collaborate on postdoc-level ecology research


Upon arrival to Forks, WA (transportation not provided), room is paid for, and research assistant will be compensated $2000 for approximately two months of field work. Opportunities for small concurrent projects in which assistant would be a co-author on a resulting publication are available if the assistant is interested in independent research. Glowing letters of recommendation for the future will be provided upon successful completion of the internship.


-Considering pursuing a career in ecology or conservation biology -Must be able to stay for the entire ~2-month duration -Must hold a driverÃf¢ÒÂEURÃ’Â(tm)s license -Owns a car OR be able to borrow one for the duration of the field work -Excellent academic and/or professional performance -Physically able to carry 20-50lb of equipment along 2 miles of muddy, hilly, terrain every day -Attention to detail and a high level of patience -Collaborative attitude and prior experience working on teams -Problem solving and practical hands-on skills -Enthusiasm for living in rugged conditions for a few months -Must not be afraid of heights, getting dirty or wet, or getting scratched by spiny plants -Must have a high tolerance for mosquitos and other biting insects -Fluency in English OR Spanish (preferably both)

Preferred additional traits:

-Prior experience doing field research

-Prior experience approximating cover estimates of vegetation -Prior rope-assisted climbing experience -Fluency in Spanish AND English -Extended time periods spent in rugged, rural areas -Bryophyte botany experience -Familiarity with temperate rainforest ecosystems -Resides locally in Washington State

How to apply:

If this position interest you, please send your CV or resume, a short cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position, and an unofficial transcript if available including your GPA to  Applications are accepted from now until May 20th. Skype or Zoom interviews (in English or Spanish) will be conducted immediately thereafter. Feel free to email me questions!