Careers at Virginia Tech

Postdoctoral Associate

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Work type: Research Faculty
Senior management: Natural Resources
Department: Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Categories: Research / Scientific, Natural Resources

Job Description

Seeking a Postdoctoral Associate with a passion for conservation science and/or social-ecological science is sought to contribute to two projects related to wildlife viewing. The postdoctoral associate will be co-mentored by Drs. Dayer (social scientist) and Hawley (disease ecologist) at Virginia Tech and be part of their dynamic labs, as well as part of project teams with a variety of researchers and conservation practitioners. The university values diversity and continually strives to maintain and promote an inclusive learning and research environment that embrace all students, faculty, and staff.

The first project is funded by the National Science Foundation Dynamic Integrated Social-Environmental Systems program. Our interdisciplinary research team, in collaboration with researchers from three other universities, is studying bird feeding and associated habitat management to understand socio-environmental links and outcomes for bird populations and human mental well-being. This work will transform Project FeederWatch, an ecology-focused participatory science project, into one that uniquely advances socio-environmental systems science. We will also be engaging volunteers in field and web-based experiments to test causal socio-environmental links. The research will be conducted with Project FeederWatch program managers and an Advisory Board of stakeholders including diversity, equity, and inclusion experts. The project will ultimately generate web-based and workshop trainings and materials that 1) improve how participatory science project managers engage volunteers to inform socio-environmental systems research and are more inclusive of ethno-racially diverse or disabled participants; 2) encourage socio-environmental systems research by scholars at multiple professional levels; and 3) broadly communicate evidence-based best practices for bird feeding that maximize benefits for both humans and wildlife.

The second project is through a Multi-state Conservation Grant from US Fish & Wildlife Service. We will support state agencies in the implementation of recommendations from a national survey of wildlife viewers in 2021. Will facilitate a Community of Practice of state agency staff who are developing projects to engage wildlife viewers, guiding them in translating results for action. Through peer and expert support, agencies will develop a project and evaluation plan, as well as begin to roll out projects. Through these projects we will develop case studies and resources to be shared through a project website with a story map and resource directory. Will also intend to study the efficacy of this approach for addressing the research to implementation gap in conservation science. Additionally, using the existing survey data set, will further explore topics of interest to state agencies, such as how to better engage urban wildlife viewers.

The postdoctoral associate will: 1) Coordinate project logistics and team activities for 2 projects; 2) Facilitate a Community of Practice, with the support of a graduate student, and study its effectiveness; 3) Design and lead co-produced research with experts in Diversity Equity and Inclusion to diversify participatory science participation; 4) Support other research activities in the projects as needed & aligned with the postdocā€™s skills and interests (e.g., survey design and implementation; aviary experiments; participatory scientist management experiments; statistical analyses of large data sets); 5) Mentor undergraduate and graduate student interns; 6) Publish peer-reviewed articles; 7) Communicate results to the participatory and citizen science and bird conservation communities; and 8) Be an active member of the Dayer and Hawley Labs and a growing postdoctoral community in the Global Change Center.

The position requires travel to Cornell Lab of Ornithology for collaboration on research and to conferences in the US and internationally.

Required Qualifications

- Ph.D. in natural resources; social-ecological sciences; social sciences related to conservation, natural resources, and/or wildlife management; or ecological science. PhD must be awarded no more than four years prior to the effective date of appointment with a minimum of one year eligibility remaining.
- Knowledge of social science (e.g., psychology, sociology) concepts, principles, and methods as applied to wildlife or other natural resource management sufficient to contribute to project design, data analysis and science communication.
- Demonstrated skills in collaborating with others on teams to accomplish shared objectives.
- Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Excellent communication skills and organizational skills.

Preferred Qualifications

- Experience in project coordination and management of complex projects involving multiple stakeholders, researchers and/or partners.
- Experience with meeting or focus group facilitation.
- Experience communicating scientific results and methods to conservation professionals.
- Experience mentoring undergraduate or graduate students or interns.
- Expertise in qualitative and quantitative social science research.
- Experience with social-ecological science.
- Expertise in project evaluation or impact evaluation.
- Research experience related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
- Familiarity with science co-production approaches.
- Knowledge of wildlife viewing, birding, or citizen science.


Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with experience

Review Date


Additional Information

The successful candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check.

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jennifer Phillips at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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