Past Positions

MS Graduate Assistantship – Occupancy Dynamics of Swamp Rabbits: southern Illinois

Start Date: August 22, 2022

Last Day to Apply: March 4, 2022

Salary: $1,534/month + tuition and health benefits

A M.S. Graduate Research Assistantship is available at Southern Illinois University (SIU) starting August 2022 to model the distribution dynamics of swamp rabbits (Sylvilagus aquaticus) over a 20+ year period. As a Species of Conservation Concern, swamp rabbits are an important indicator species of bottomland hardwood forests but are experiencing declines throughout their range, primarily due to the loss of bottomland hardwood forests. The graduate student will be tasked with surveying swamp rabbits throughout southernmost Missouri and using the occurrence data to 1) estimate the current distribution and status of swamp rabbits in Missouri, 2) understand the drivers of change in their distribution through dynamic occupancy modelling, with a particular interest in understanding landscape and management-related factors, and 3) provide evidence to aid in agency decision-making around the management and conservation of the species. The graduate student will be expected to have a keen interest in learning and applying cutting-edge statistical techniques with an emphasis in Bayesian inference. Opportunities may exist for the student to develop independent research questions and projects including but not limited to species distribution modeling, quantitative ecology, and/or structured decision making. This is a collaborative project with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Forestry Program at Southern Illinois University, and the successful applicant is expected to effectively communicate findings to all partners. The student will earn a M.S. in Forestry at Southern Illinois University and will be advised by Dr. Brent Pease, in close collaboration with Drs. Clayton Nielsen and John Groninger (SIU Forestry Program).

This is a well-funded, multi-agency research project, and the graduate student will be expected to assist in hiring and managing several field technicians to support the data collection efforts in Missouri. That said, the project has anticipated final funding approval date of June 2022, and the positions are subject to final funding approval.

The successful applicant will have (1) obtained B.S. degree in wildlife, ecology, biology, forestry, zoology, or related fields; (2) knowledge of rabbit ecology and/or bottomland hardwood forest ecology; (3) exceptional quantitative skills with an interest in learning and applying advanced occupancy modeling under Bayesian inference; (4) knowledge of program R and spatial software (e.g., QGIS, ArcGIS), with an aptitude for learning additional software as needed (e.g., JAGS, nimble); (5) a driver’s license and ability to conduct independent field work in difficult conditions (e.g., cold, rainy/snowy, and wet conditions); (6) strong oral and written communication skills; and (7) experience interacting with state wildlife agencies and working in teams.

To apply please email a single PDF to Dr. Brent Pease (bpease1@siu.edu) that includes:

  1. A cover letter that describes past experiences and career goals
  2. Curriculum Vitae (with GPA and GRE scores included)
  3. Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is acceptable)
  4. Contact information for 3 references

The email subject should be “MS – Swamp Rabbits”. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For full consideration, applications must be received by March 4, 2022.




THREE (3) Graduate Research Assistantships (PhD) – Carnivore ecology: Illinois

Drs. Clay Nielsen, Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau, and Brent Pease at Southern Illinois University seek 3 Ph.D.-level Graduate Research Assistants (GRA) to study carnivore ecology in Illinois. Two GRAs will study bobcats in north-central Illinois and be co-advised as follows: Bobcat spatial ecology: Nielsen and Bastille-Rousseau Bobcat demographics: Nielsen and Pease One GRA will study gray foxes in southern Illinois and another study area TBD; this student will be co-advised by Nielsen and Bastille-Rousseau Primary field work on both projects will include capture and fitting of animals with GPS collars with primary objectives to quantify survival, dispersal, home ranges, and habitat selection, with duties split for the bobcat project as listed above. These are large, well-funded research efforts involving research technicians to assist in gathering data. Depending on start time, the successful applicant may first be hired as a technician, to transfer to Ph.D. student status thereafter.

Websites: wildlife.siu.edu/faculty-staff/; bastillerousseau.wixsite.com/research; peaselab.com

Salary: ~$1,575/mo + tuition & benefits; free housing may be available

Qualifications: The successful applicant will have: (1) obtained a M.S. degree in wildlife, ecology, biology, forestry, zoology, or related fields; (2) applicable field skills including carnivore capture, handling, collection of biological samples, and GPS collars; (3) a driver’s license and ability to carry heavy gear long distances in difficult field conditions; (4) exceptional quantitative skills; (5) strong oral and written communication skills; (6) aerial radiotelemetry experience; and (7) an ability to work both independently and within a team framework with project technicians and fellow graduate students in highly-productive research laboratories.

Application Materials: Interested parties should email a cover letter, CV (with GPA and GRE scores included), writing sample, and list of 3 references to Dr. Nielsen at kezo92@siu.edu. The email subject line should list which project(s) are of interest and that should also be stated clearly in the cover letter. Please email application materials no later than 25 February 2022.

Start Date: 1 June 2022

Contact: Clay Nielsen (email: kezo92@siu.edu)




Graduate Research Assistant (M.S.) – Mesopredator movement and ecology: Florida Keys/Illinois - April 2022

A M.S.-level Graduate Research Assistantship is available at Southern Illinois University (SIU) starting April 2022 to assess the movement patterns of mesopredators in association with supplemental human foods and invasive predators in an island ecosystem. The field research (April/May – August) will take place in Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Key Largo, Florida, in cooperation with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Dr. Mike Cove; https://covewildlife.com/ ), the USFWS (Refuge Manager Jeremy Dixon), and with SIU (Dr. Brent Pease). During the academic year (August – May), the student will be based at SIU in Carbondale. Primary field work will take place during spring and summer and includes tracking GPS-tagged mesopredators in Key Largo along an urban-wild gradient and overlapping with invasive Burmese pythons. The graduate student will estimate home range and quantify movement behaviors of raccoons and Virginia opossums to investigate the ecosystem role of mesopredators as seed dispersers and identify potential interactions of study animals with known locations of multiple endangered species. The student will work to analyze GPS movement data in a continuous time movement modeling framework with the potential to include additional analyses with camera trap data through integrated modeling frameworks. Opportunities may exist for the student to develop independent research questions and projects including but not limited to animal movement, species co-occurrence, community dynamics, stable isotopes, diet analysis, and/or ecosystem services. The successful applicant is expected to effectively communicate findings to all partners and participate in other on-going monitoring efforts in Key Largo. Housing will be provided for fieldwork in the Keys. The student will earn a M.S. in Forestry with emphasis in Wildlife Ecology at Southern Illinois University and will be co-advised by Drs. Mike Cove and Brent Pease.

The successful applicant will have (1) obtained B.S. degree in wildlife, ecology, biology, forestry, zoology, or related fields; (2) knowledge of mesopredator ecology; (3) exceptional quantitative skills and familiarity with radiotracking and movement models; (4) knowledge of program R and spatial software (e.g., QGIS, ArcGIS); (5) a driver’s license and ability to conduct independent field work in difficult conditions (e.g., mosquitoes, biting flies, and heat)); and (6) strong oral and written communication skills.

To apply please email a single PDF to Dr. Brent Pease (bpease1@siu.edu) that includes:

  1. A cover letter that describes past experiences and career goals
  2. Curriculum Vitae (with GPA and GRE scores included)
  3. Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is acceptable)
  4. Contact information for 3 references

The email subject should be “MS – Florida Keys Mesopredators”. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For full consideration, applications must be received by Feb 25, 2022.




MS or PhD assistantship available starting Jan or May 2022

A M.S. or Ph.D. Graduate Research Assistantship is available at Southern Illinois University to study the distribution and abundance of bird species of conservation concern in southern Illinois. The student’s research focus has some flexibility, but will primarily study non-game bird species (e.g., aerial insectivores) sampled using a combination of point counts and autonomous acoustic recorders; emphasis will be on evaluating the effectiveness of land management practices in the recovery of declining wildlife species. Opportunities exist for the student to develop independent research ideas. The ideal student will have (1) experience conducting point counts in eastern USA, (2) deployed acoustic recorders, and (3) analyzed acoustic data. Students with an interest in applying state-of-the-art quantitative approaches in wildlife conservation are particularly encouraged to apply. The successful applicant is expected to communicate findings to state agencies and other on-going, regional monitoring efforts. The student will earn a M.S. in Forestry or a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University. The preferred start date is Jan 2022, but a May 2022 start date may be negotiated for top candidates.

The successful applicant will have (1) obtained B.S. degree in wildlife, ecology, biology, forestry, zoology, or related fields; (2) knowledge of regional birds by sight and sound and have experience conducting point counts and/or deploying acoustic recorders; (3) exceptional quantitative skills with experience estimating distribution and/or abundance using a variety of data types and models; (4) knowledge of program R and spatial software (e.g., QGIS, ArcGIS); (5) a driver’s license and ability to conduct independent field work in difficult conditions (e.g., steep terrain, poison ivy, ticks, venomous snakes); and (6) strong oral and written communication skills.

To apply please email a single PDF to Dr. Brent Pease (bpease1@siu.edu) that includes:

  1. A cover letter that describes past experiences and career goals. Be sure to explicitly state whether you are interested in a Ph.D. or M.S. degree.
  2. Curriculum Vitae (with GPA and GRE scores included)
  3. Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is acceptable) and/or graduate transcripts (if applicable)
  4. Contact information for 3 references

The email subject should be “(MS or PhD – select one) Species of Conservation Concern”. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For full consideration, applications must be received by Oct 31, 2021.

Brent Pease, Ph.D.
Brent Pease, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Brent Pease is an Assistant Professor in the Forestry Program at Southern Illinois University.