Summer field research on Belding's ground squirrels with Dr. Jill Mateo, University of Chicago
Thanks for your interest in my research. I hope to bring 2-3 people with me this summer. I give priority to folks considering entering graduate school to study animal behavior, and those with research experience of some sort, although neither is a prerequisite. We hope to make final decisions by late March or mid-April.
I anticipate starting our work in mid May and finishing in August (see portions of my website for more information on my ongoing research). The timing in part depends on the amount of snowpack from the winter, as it influences access to sites as well as timing of reproduction. The work is long, sometimes hard, sometimes incredibly boring, but overall it is a great experience!
We work every day of the week, with no days off unless weather prohibits work. This is because the animals' active season is short, and things happen quickly so we cannot afford to miss a day. Evenings are free, with us typically done no later than 7 pm. How we spend our days will vary, but anticipate traveling to a field site in the morning and in the afternoon. This would involve trapping and marking animals and collecting hormone and genetic samples from them, as well as behavioral observations throughout the season.
We may also do some work with temporarily captive animals at the field station. I am still evaluating data from last year, so I do not yet know the specifics of this summer's work. When we do captive work, then the animals need to be fed, cages cleaned, and general maintenance of the facilities kept up daily.
Assistants are encouraged to conduct their own research as time permits. This will help those applying to graduate school, as they can demonstrate independent research and I can write a stronger letter of recommendation, if requested.
The field station we live at has houses and a dorm, along with e-mail access and, recently, cell phone reception. Where folks stay depends on the size of the group and the time of the summer. Groceries and cooking are done as a group or separately. Since we live about 15 minutes from town (Mammoth Lakes), it helps if someone has a car in addition to mine. That way people can run to town for a hike, movie, personal shopping, etc.
Weather is unpredictable. Some years it is winter until late June, some years during droughts it starts sunny and warm when we arrive. Typically days are sunny and dry, although temperatures can vary significantly across the day.
I will cover costs of transportation and housing. (Because of transportation costs, I am not currently accepting applications from people outside of North America.) Assistants need to bring some essentials, such as waterproof boots, outerwear, sleeping bag (or other bedding), hat, and some type of backpack.
And a good disposition! Remember, we live and work together 24/7, so an open mind is key. And the work can be hard, so I need a team of self-starters with common sense, not folks who prefer to let others do the bulk of the work. No one actually likes cleaning cages, but it needs to be done and we all share it.
If you are interested in applying for these positions, reply to the following questions as honestly as you can. To do so, copy and paste these questions and your answers into the text of an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also paste other information in that message, such as parts of your CV or details of research experiences. Do NOT send attachments - all information should be in the text of a message, with "Belding's research" in the subject line. Any messages with attachments will be deleted without being opened.
1) What is your educational background (e.g. graduated or graduating from what college, when, with what major)?
2) What relevant courses have you taken?
3) What research experience have you had, of any kind?
4) What types of work experiences have you had in the past few years?
5) What do you think you want to do with your life?
6) Why do you want to work with Belding's ground squirrels?
7) Here's a tricky one: What is the one thing we should know about you? (Remember, we live and work together 24/7).
8) When are you available, and for how long? Do you have any constraints during the summer (e.g. best friend's wedding)?