01 Oct Biological Sciences Technician
Start Date: January 24, 2022 - July 24, 2022 (Approximate)
Compensation: $650 week + support for lodging and transportation
Application Due: November 5, 2021
The Resource Assistant Program seeks to engage ethnically and racially diverse young professionals in natural resource careers.
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
All interns must be fully vaccinated for covid-19 prior to the start of their internship.
Vehicle and Driver's License requirements:
Applicants should have personal transportation and must possess a valid U.S. Driver’s License.
Performs a variety of routine and frequently complex tasks involving grassland plant research projects and program planning activities:
(30%) Is responsible for the accumulation, coding, transcription and processing of information and data from research projects; edits and corrects records; and provides quality control of automatic data processing entries. Tabulates results and prepares graphs and charts according to instructions. Assists in the design of new plant projects.
(30%) Layout of experimental plots by taking measurements and marking corners and boundaries. Uses botanical key to identify plants encountered during fieldwork or surveys of grassland areas. Assesses plant population health by measuring individual plant traits. Compiles and summarizes surveys and assessments including grassland health monitoring, biological evaluations, and pilot tests conducted as part of the project.
(25%) Monitors and maintains field site infrastructure, including rainout shelters and weather and soil data loggers, and lab maintenance, including growth chambers
(15%) Collects biological and vegetation specimens from field and lab experiments and samples and prepares them for laboratory analysis. Performs laboratory analysis and dissection of belowground plant organs and tissue, aids in the preparation of specimens for morphological analyses and does routine technical analyses.
The Resource Assistant will gain the following:
- Knowledge of the research process, specifically for plant ecological research
- Experience in Excel and working with data management and initial data analysis
- Knowledge on how to identify plant species in US grasslands
- Experience in conducting grassland fieldwork in semi-remote areas and working with equipment measuring weather, soil moisture, and plant physiology, especially examining vegetation responses to drought
- Experience dissecting plants and learning GIS basics
Natural and Physical Work Environment:
The position is based at the Forest and Grassland Research Laboratory in Rapid City, SD, which is co-located with the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest. Weather in the summers can be quite hot and winters can be cold. Rapid City is the second largest city in the state of South Dakota. The position will be in association with the Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems Program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/rmrs/science-program-areas/maintaining-resilient-dryland-ecosystems ).
The work requires moderate physical exertion, such as carrying up to 25 lbs, long periods of standing, walking over rough, uneven or rocky surfaces, recurring bending, and crouching, stooping, reaching, or similar activities. Exposure to extremes of weather and temperature may require the employee to use protective clothing and gear. Working in hot field conditions for long periods of time is likely. Fine motor skills and hand dexterity are essential for dissection. Normal color and stereovision are essential for accurate recognition of discolored, injured vegetation.
Abilities and Skills:
- Looking for an individual who is detail oriented with good organizational skills for managing data on the computer and project fieldwork, has good oral and written communication skills, and is able to work independently and as part of a team.
- Practical knowledge of the methods and techniques of vegetation ecology and skill in understanding instructions readily to carry out procedures. Familiarity with grassland plant species or a strong desire to learn grassland species is necessary.
- After training, the ability to determine the best course of action when multiple alternatives are presented and adapt to unexpected shifts in project work with the goal of collecting valid and reliable data.
- Practical knowledge of good data management practices and able to insure data integrity through quality control measures.
- Interest in learning plant dissection under a microscope.
Education and Qualifications:
Applicants should have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Plant Science, Rangeland Management, or other related field