Masters Research Assistantship: Decision Tool for Rating Carp-Native Fish Competition

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State, Mississippi

Job Type Student / postdoc
Salary Details Limited to 2 years. Assistantship worth $20,000 per year + free health insurance, full tuition waiver, and support for conference travel and participation.
Deadline May 01, 2024
Required Experience 0 - 1 years

Project overview and responsibilities: Perhaps the most concerning invasive species currently troubling the Mississippi Basin are the bigheaded carps. Their incursion has caused great commotion and mobilized natural resource conservation sectors to address observed and anticipated impacts. Bigheaded carps are planktonic filter feeders at the base of trophic cascades, potentially impacting plankton communities and competing with native filter-feeding fishes and juvenile stages of many other native species. To develop effective management strategies and make well-informed decisions, it is essential to understand and measure the extent of this competition. The aim of this research is to create a framework for rating the extent of feeding competition between native fishes and invasive carps. Feeding analyses will rely on DNA metabarcoding. eDNA, in combination with quantitative PCR, would be used to estimate the relative abundance of invasive species. The competition rating is expected to inform management decisions about when, where, and how to address competition. 

The student will work with Drs. Steve Miranda and Sandra Correa. Duties will include field and laboratory work and coordination with several resource conservation agencies working in the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. 

Location: This position is based on the MSU campus in Starkville, Mississippi.

Qualifications: Undergraduate degree in natural resources, biology, ecology, or related field, strong written and verbal communication abilities in English, and excellent interpersonal skills to work collaboratively. The ideal candidate will have interests on invasive species, applied molecular biology, and feeding ecology. This position is seasonally field intensive and will require close coordination with agency biologists for sampling. Experience trailering and operating boats is highly desirable. GPA > 3.0. 


Contact: If you have questions please email with the subject line “Carp competition” to Steve Miranda (smiranda@usgs.gov ) and Sandra Correa (sbc257@msstate.edu). If you want to apply, please send: (1) cover letter describing experiential background, career goals, and project interest; (2) a resume; (3) email addresses and phone numbers for three references; (4) GRE scores if available; (5) updated official or unofficial transcripts. The successful candidate will eventually submit a formal application and official transcripts to the Graduate School. 

Start date: review will begin immediately and close when filled. Start date can be August 2024 or January 2025. 

Helpful links

Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture: https://www.cfr.msstate.edu/wildlife/ 

USGS MS Cooperative F&W Research Unit: https://www1.usgs.gov/coopunits/unit/Mississippi 

Correa River Ecology Lab: https://riverecologylab.org

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology , Fisheries