Searching for Opportunities in Ecology & Environmental Science for Recent Grads

So, you’re graduating with a biology or environmental science or marine bio degree! Hurray! You’ve finished your stint at college, and you’ve gained a lot of new skills. Maybe you’ve done some time in research, maybe not (!!!), but now that you’ve wrapped up, you want to find a job in the environmental sciences. Something that will give you research experience, and help you on your way to either a career or deciding whether you want to go into research.

OK, where do you go now?

I’ll be honest. For me, this was easy. I was lucky enough to have had experiences (and more to be honest) that channeled me into a top-notch research lab as an undergrad, which opened up further opportunities for an REU program at SML. The one-two punch of a great mentor and a great REU experience gave me a publication under my belt, and let me know, yes, this is what I want to do with my life. So I docked around for a year as a tech in different places, but I knew I was grad-school bound.

This is not always the case. I’m teaching a Marine Biology & Ecology course this year and my students, all seniors, vary greatly in background. For some, this is their first time taking marine bio or anything related, as we haven’t traditionally had a lot of regular offerings in the past. Others have done a lot of environmental science work, but don’t have much field experience on research projects.

But now they’re fired up. And they’re great students. And they want to know what to do next. Because they’re graduating.

Or I was recently approached by a friend who finished her undergrad years ago, and has been working in advertising (kinda sorta). But she’s been taking marine bio and other courses on the sly. And now wants to find a position that will give her a leg up and a last piece of experience to determine where to go next in her career path involving science.

She’s tremendously talented. Motivated. And doesn’t quite know where to turn next.

I have a few ideas on the topic, but, I tweeted out a query on the topic, and got far more.

So, without further ado, here’s the list of places to look when interested in a job just out of undergrad for more experience in ecology & environmental sciences. This list is by no means comprehensive, and if you have any suggestions, let me know. I plan to incorporate this onto my lab website as a resource in the near future.

  • Sign up for the Ecological Society of America’s mailing list. Lots of opportunities flow through there
  • The ESA Phys Ecology job board has a ton of jobs, and for far more than just physiological ecology work. Check out their staff and seasonal positions.
  • The same group also provides a great list of job boards worth checking out. Start there, and go down the rabbit hole of the wide array of positions available, although some are for more senior folk.
  • Birder? Check out the extensive listing at the Ornithological societies of North America job page.
  • To start to get into government research, see the USGS jobs page. Many of the listings are for research internships as well as government positions.
  • Texas A&M Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences provides a wonderful job and internship listing for positions around the world
  • One way to get into field work is to, well, work at a field station! The Organization of Biological Field Stations provides a listing of current positions.
  • One way many recent grads get involved in more management and conservation is with jobs and internships at the Student Conservation Association.
  • The American Society of Limnology and Oceanography maintains a job board that is a mix of tech-level positions and upper level positions. So, some filtering required
  • Environmental Career Opportunities posts a wide variety of job types.
  • For the more geography inclined, see The Society for Conservation GIS.
  • If you’re interested in education, museums, and wildlife, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has a wide variety of opportunities.
  • And last, for a ton of additional information for postgrad and beyond, Marissa Baskett maintains a superb website. It’s a bit beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here, and just academia focused, but it provides a great jumping off point.

Updated with more links from Sadie Ryan on 12/19/13

Here a Tau, there a Tau… Plotting Quantile Regressions

I’ve ended up digging into quantile regression a bit lately (see this excellent gentle introduction to quantile regression
for ecologists
[pdf] for what it is and some great reasons why to use it -see also here and here). In R this is done via the quantreg package, which is pretty nice, and has some great plotting diagnostics, etc. But what it doesn’t have out of the box is a way to simply plot your data, and then overlay quantile regression lines at different levels of tau.

The documentation has a nice example of how to do it, but it’s long tedious code. And I had to quickly whip up a few plots for different models.

So, meh, I took the tedious code and wrapped it into a quickie function. Which I dorp here for your delectation. Unless you have some better fancier way to do it (which I’d love to see – especially for ggplot….)

Here’s the function:

quantRegLines <- function(rq_obj, lincol="red", ...){  
  #get the taus
  taus <- rq_obj$tau
  
  #get x
  x <- rq_obj$x[,2] #assumes no intercept
  xx <- seq(min(x, na.rm=T),max(x, na.rm=T),1)
  
  #calculate y over all taus
  f <- coef(rq_obj)  
  yy <- cbind(1,xx)%*%f
  
  if(length(lincol)==1) lincol=rep(lincol, length(taus))
  #plot all lines
  for(i in 1:length(taus)){
    lines(xx,yy[,i], col=lincol[i], ...)
  }
  
}

And an example use.

data(engel)
attach(engel)
 
taus <- c(.05,.1,.25,.75,.9,.95)
plot(income,foodexp,xlab="Household Income",
     ylab="Food Expenditure",
     pch=19, col=alpha("black", 0.5))
 
rq_fit <- rq((foodexp)~(income),tau=taus)
 
quantRegLines(rq_fit)

Oh, and I set it up to make pretty colors in plots, too.

plot(income, foodexp, xlab = "Household Income", 
    ylab = "Food Expenditure", 
    pch = 19, col = alpha("black", 0.5))

quantRegLines(rq_fit, rainbow(6))
legend(4000, 1000, taus, rainbow(6), title = "Tau")

All of this is in a repo over at github (natch), so, fork and play.