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

Running R2WinBUGS on a Mac Running OSX

I have long used JAGS to do all of my Bayesian work on my mac. Early on, I tried to figure out how to install WinBUGS and OpenBUGS and their accompanying R libraries on my mac, but, to no avail. I just had too hard of a time getting them running and gave up.

But, it would seem that some things have changed with Wine lately, and it is now possible to not only get WinBUGS itself running nicely on a mac, but to also get R2WinBUGS to run as well. Or at least, so I have discovered after an absolutely heroic (if I do say so myself) effort to get it all running (this was to help out some students I’m teaching who wanted to be able to do the same exercises as their windows colleagues). So, I present the steps that I’ve worked out. I do not promise this will work for everyone – and in fact, if it fails at some point, I want to know about it so that perhaps we can fix it so that more people can get WinBUGS up and running.

Or just run JAGS (step 1} install the latest version, step 2} install rjags in R. Modify your code slightly. Run it. Be happy.)

So, this tutorial works to get the whole WinBUGS shebang running. Note that it hinges on installing the latest development version of Wine, not the stable version (at least as of 1/17/12). If you have previously installed wine using macports, good on you. Now uninstall it with “sudo port uninstall wine”. Otherwise, you will not be able to do this.

Away we go!

1) Have the free version of XCode Installed from You may have to sign up for an apple developer account. Whee! You’re a developer now!

2) Have X11 Installed from your system install disc.

3) Install and install from the package installer. See also here for more information. Afterwards, open the terminal and type

echo export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH$'n'export MANPATH=/opt/local/man:$MANPATH | sudo tee -a /etc/profile

You will be asked for your password. Don’t worry that it doesn’t display anything as you type. Press enter when you’ve finished typing your password.

4) Open your terminal and type

sudo port install wine-devel

5) Go have a cup of coffe, check facebook, or whatever you do while the install chugs away.

6) Download WinBUGS 1.4.x from here. Also download the immortality key and the patch.

7) Open your terminal, and type

cd Downloads
wine WinBUGS14.exe

Note, if you have changed your download directory, you will need to type in the path to the directory where you download files now (e.g., Desktop).

8 ) Follow the instructions to install WinBUGS into c:Program Files.

9) Run WinBUGS via the terminal as follows:

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/WinBUGS14/WinBUGS14

10) After first running WinBUGS, install the immortality key. Close WinBUGS. Open it again as above and install the patch. Close it. Open it again and WinBUGS away!

11) To now use R2WinBugs fire up R and install the R2WinBUGS library.

12) R2WinBugs should now work normally with one exception. When you use the bugs function, you will need to supply the following additional argument:'/Users/YOURUSERNAME/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/WinBUGS14'

filling in your username where indicated. If you don’t know it, in the terminal type

ls /Users

No, ~ will not work for those of you used to it. Don’t ask me why.

How to Make a Dancing Yeti Crab Video with Music

So, I’ve been getting some questions about how one can make their own Yeti-crabs-dance-to-music video. So here’s a quick guide for the interested folk who haven’t played around with audio or video before but want to try it out. So, here’s what I did, step-by-step, in 9 easy steps. All told, this took me, eh, 5 minutes.

(This is for iMovie, and I’ll link to a few tutorials in case you need them. If you’re on a PC, there’s Windows Movie Maker – Dr. Zen has added instructions in the comments.)

Kiwa puravida from video in Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab PLoS ONE, 6 (11)

1) Go and read Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab by Thurber et al. before anything else. You need to get into the yeti-crab mood first. What a fantastic piece!

2) Scroll to the supporting information and download this video. There are two others – one Kiwa puravida harvesting bacteria and another performing some displays. If you want to get adventurous, go with one of those. But really, stick with the original.

3) Open up iMovie. Import the Yeti Crab video as a new event. Then create a new project. Select the whole of the video and drag it into the new project. If you’re going to want to slow it down for a longer audio clip, double click on the video in the project screen to open the clip inspector, and change the speed. 

4) Watch the video a few times. Find the Yeti Crab’s groove thang. If there was a comparable 10 second clip of music that would go with it (or longer, if you want to slow the clip down), what would it be? I was feeling a Calypso vibe. Doctor Zen felt they were doing The Safety Dance. Or maybe they’re clubbing. What do dancing Yeti crabs say to you?

5) Acquire the appropriate music through legal means. I purchased mine in iTunes. Make sure you have it in iTunes, though, for the next step. If your iMovie is older than iMovie ’09, see below before proceeding.

6) Back in iMovie, click on the icon that looks like musical notes. This will open up your sound library – part of which is your iTunes library. Find your new audio clip. Click and drag it onto your movie clip in the project frame. Voila, you have added music to your film. But is it the right part of the song?

7) To sync up your movie with the right section of music that you want, click on the cog on the music track and select Clip Trimmer. Drag the yellow bar at the start of the music to where you want it. The end will auto-adjust. Click done. You may want to trim your video clip or slow it down or speed it up to make sure the music and video sync.

8 ) Now, if you want, futz to your hearts delight. Change where the music starts. Play around with transitions, title screens, whatever. Or don’t.

9) Now upload it to youtube! (You do have a youtube account, right?) There’s a share menu which contains youtube to pipe it right in there. Make sure in the text to include the full citation and that the video was taken by Andrew:

“Thurber, A., Jones, W., & Schnabel, K. (2011). Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab PLoS ONE, 6 (11) for more! Video by Andrew R. Thurber.”

That’s it! Now email me your video and then tweet it (if you’re into that sort of thing!) with the #DancingYetiCrabs hashtag and Dr. Zen will add it to this playlist!

And now that you’ve made your first video in imovie, and seen how easy it is, go forth and make others! There are fewer better ways to communicate your science than video!