Zarin Machanda is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology. She has worked with chimpanzees for the past 2 decades studying social interactions and development patterns. She is also the Director of Long-term Research at the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, a long-term study of wild chimpanzees in Uganda.
As a child growing up, Dr. Machanda would’ve told you that she wanted to be an astronaut veterinarian. While the job prospects of that career became a little more evident as she got older, Dr. Machanda was able to find her passion in studying chimpanzees and their behavior.
Hannah Uebele: How did you get started in this particular field?
Zarin Machanda: I always wanted to work with animals, so there was a part of me that just always wanted to work with wildlife. I remember looking up “primatologist” when I was really little and I thought, ‘Oh that sounds pretty cool.’ So I think a lot of students throughout my childhood and even into high school (thought) the only job you did if you wanted to work with animals was a veterinarian. It just wasn’t very obvious that there were other things, especially if you were a good student who really liked science, it just seemed like instead of going to med school, you go to vet school. And so at 18 that’s just what I assumed I was going to do. So I went to McGill and I majored in biology, and to get this kind of animal experience that you need to apply to vet school, I started volunteering at this sanctuary that had these chimps and that was kind of it. Even when I was applying for PhD programs, I still applied to vet schools because it was still, so it was still a tough choice, I still had to make that decision between the two. There was a part of it that was the opportunity to do a PhD (in Human Evolutionary Biology) studying wild chimps was such a rarity, such a unique experience, that it was hard to turn down. It was also sometime in college when I realized that there’s so much more than just this straight kind of fields that we think about, that actually there’s so many departments or programs that are actually at the intersection of multiple things. So college was the first time I even realized there was a field called biological anthropology. McGill did not have biological anthropology so I actually ended up doing degrees in biology and in anthropology. Then when I applied for grad school, we were a department of anthropology at Harvard, and then halfway through my time there we became our own department of human evolutionary biology. There aren’t that many departments that just focus on biological anthropology or human evolutionary biology so it was this kind of interesting program where I could really just immerse myself in that.
Uebele: Is there something special that a person needs to have to be successful in this field?
Machanda: There’s a lot of luck to it as well. I can’t pinpoint why, ‘Why did I get to do this and other people didn’t?’ There are lots of people who love animals and who want to help them. I think people who do what I do are a little bit different. I love animals but I love studying chimps. I don’t just love chimps, I love studying chimps and I think that’s the difference. I think if I just loved chimps and was very passionate about their survival then I would be a better conservationist. But I love studying them, so I think that’s partly what makes me a good researcher, because you can kind of remove yourself from that emotional tie to them. So I love the chimps that I study, but more importantly I love figuring out why they’re doing what they’re doing. I love going out and collecting data, I see something new every time I’m out there. It’s so much more than just having a passion for that animal, it’s about really wanting to understand.
Dr. Machanda explained how students need to be aware of this difference when figuring out which direction to go in their careers.
So you need to think about as a student, what is really driving your interest, and is it: do you love the study of it, do you love the academic side, or do you love the aspect of saving the species? I think that would give you a hint – one is maybe more conservation the other is more academic. There is a part of it that you have to be a pretty good student – I mean you have to like school, right? All of us are like these perpetual students who love learning, love being in this kind of atmosphere, don’t mind writing, so most people have some sort of fondness for school. I think you’d have a hard time being an academic without that kind of fondness. It’s not just an ability to do well school it’s about really liking what you’re learning. It’s about whether or not you can look at a body of information that’s maybe in a textbook and say, ‘Oh here’s what’s missing.’ So there’s kind of a way of thinking about the world that makes an academic successful.
Dr. Machanda then explained helpful steps students can take to help them get a better idea of where their interests lie.
And then just practically what you can do – you want to invest in your education certainly. For what I do in particular, it helps to have experience and so getting some sort of hands on either fieldwork or work with the animal is really important. If you want to be a fieldworker, animal fieldwork or ecological fieldwork, something important you want to do is before you commit to that PhD, go get some field experience, go do something. The other thing that I would say, most students who I’ve seen be successful grad students and have had an easier time in graduate school, have done senior theses. If you don’t know whether you like research, it’s hard to know whether you’re going to like doing a PhD or being an academic. So having some sort of experience with your own independent research project is a good metric not just for someone else to see how good you are, but for you to know how much you like this, which is more important actually. I wouldn’t make the commitment to go to graduate school if you didn’t really like this.
Uebele: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently that you would want students now to be aware of?
Machanda: I think it’s all part of the journey, I mean I certainly don’t regret working hard in college. Universities are such dynamic intellectually stimulating places and I think it’s easy for us to get very much overwhelmed by all of the things that are potentially available to us. But I think that there is a lot of value to taking advantage of the resources at your university. You can not only learn a lot about a particular interest, but you get exposed to different people doing work in different departments, and I think that’s an incredibly useful thing. I feel like when I was an undergrad, you felt like you didn’t have time, you were like stuck in your department, rather than expanding your knowledge. So I would definitely think about what’s happening at the university and you only have four years, so think about ‘What can I take advantage of?’
Uebele: Any final advice for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
Machanda: I would say I don’t think a career in academia is for everybody. If it’s for you, it’s a wonderful wonderful flexible option, but there’s a lot of hardship and struggle with that kind of career that we don’t often hear about. I would definitely keep my eyes and options open. I think it’s a wonderful thing to get a PhD if you love a subject, but to kind of realize that what it is, is a qualification for all sorts of opportunities after that, that are not just limited to academia. You have to be realistic about the fact that, ‘Yes I’m going to get a PhD because I absolutely love this topic, and I love this field, but the reality of it is that I might not end up being a professor.’ And that’s okay because if you’ve loved doing your PhD, hopefully that will take you into all sorts of different arenas. You can’t necessarily think of this PhD as this linear path to academia. You have to think about it like, ‘Okay my next 7 years are going to be this’ and then hopefully keep a very open mind about what that degree can do for you, which is a lot of things. It’s a lot of things, I mean it can take you all sorts of really cool directions if you’re willing to see that, and to see those opportunities.
How do bees use fragmented habitats? Dr. Harmon-Threatt in the Department
of Entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign seeks a Research
Assistant capable of both field and lab work to assist with addressing this
question. This 2-year position can begin as early as January 2016 but no
later than April 2017. Applicant must have a minimum of a BS in Biology,
Entomology or a related field. Experience with netting pollinators, bee identification,
GIS, R and field ecology are preferred but not required. Compensation will be
commensurate with experience. Unfortunately, we are limited to domestic
applicants due to funding.
For more information about the Harmon-Threatt Lab please visit
www.life.illinois.edu/harmon or email Alexandra Harmon-Threatt
Please submit a single PDF with a cover letter with relevant experience, CV
and contact for 3 references who can be reached if necessary by December 9th to
Seeking a highly organized, detail-oriented, energetic, and creative professional a team-player with at least 3 years of fundraising and event-planning & PR experience; facility in use of Microsoft Office; strong writing skills, excellent people skills, experience in managing volunteers and/or staff. This position is full-time, year-round.
If interested, please email resume and cover letter to Michelle Whelan, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona
University in Flagstaff is searching for a Research Technician to help
support scientific studies of forest restoration on landscapes of the
western United States. Candidates should have strong technical skills in
forest measurements, ecological data collection, data management,
dendrochronology, and laboratory assistance. The ideal candidate will
have experience leading summer field crews and working with public land
management agencies (e.g., US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management,
US Park Service), and familiarity with flora of upland forests of the
Southwest. This position will be responsible for a full range of
technical and professional support activities.
The Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona
University in Flagstaff is nationally recognized for mobilizing the
unique assets of a university to help solve the problem of unnaturally
severe wildfire and degraded forest health throughout the American West.
The ERI collaborates with land management agencies and communities by
providing comprehensive focused studies, monitoring and evaluation,
technical support, and education. The mission of ERI is to serve as an
objective leader in science, scholarship, and education, and in
collaborative efforts to plan and implement restoration treatments for
frequent-fire forest and woodland landscapes of the West.
As a member of the ERI’s Research and Development team, the Research
-Lead crews of students and seasonal employees during the summer (May-
August) to conduct forest measurements and collect ecological data at
both local and remote sites. Field trips often require staying in the
field for eight consecutive days.
-Prepare field samples such as tree increment cores, tree cross-
sections, soils, and plant specimens for analysis.
-Participate in dendroecological analysis of field samples.
-Assist in data management activities including data entry, quality
control and assurance, archiving, and basic data analysis and summary.
-Assist in coordination of study activities and implementation with
public land management partners. This work may include securing special
use permits and scheduling of activities such as tree thinning and
-Assist Director of Science Delivery in science translation and outreach
-Participate in secondary science activities including searches and
extraction of data from published literature.
-Assist in preparing and presenting reports for various audiences
-Participate in a broad range of laboratory and field duties to support
ecological restoration research projects as needed
-Bachelor’s degree in forestry, biology, environmental science, natural
resources, or similar field; or,
-Four years ecology research or forest field measurement experience; or,
-Any equivalent combination of experience, training and/or education
Application Deadline: Open until further notice.
To see full posting and directions on how to apply, please visit:
Needham Community Farm, Needham, MA – Part-time Farm Manager
Needham Community farm is seeking a part-time, year-round Farm Manager/Gardener.
Needham Community Farm (NCF) promotes food justice by increasing access to fresh, sustainably grown produce for food insecure individuals and families; practicing and encouraging environmental stewardship; and deepening our community’s connection to the food system through educational, volunteer and youth leadership programs. We grow on two sites and distribute produce through food access partnerships with a community food pantry and four affordable housing sites, provide support and guidance to multiple affordable housing community gardens, offer opportunities for learning through our family gardening programs, and partner with local organizations to provide youth programs focused on food sovereignty, nutrition, and gardening.
The Farm Manager will be responsible for managing NCF’s 1.25-acre primary site, as
well as the smaller pilot site. This includes completing tasks needed for crop production
and harvest, organizing and leading volunteers to carry out needed field work, as well
as coordinating the distribution of produce to our food access partner sites. Because the
mission of the Farm emphasizes food access, education and community outreach, the
crops, farm layout, and growing methods are integrated with a variety of educational
and volunteer programs that take place on the farm. The part-time Farm Manager will
work closely with the Outreach Program Manager, the Board of Directors, our partner
organizations, and with seasonal contract educational and program staff to meet the
food access and educational goals of the Farm.
Schedule: Hours vary depending on the time of year, from 5 to 30 hours per week
depending on the month of the season. For the months of July through October, the
position will average 30 hours/week. Over the course of the year, the position averages
out to a half to 2⁄3 FTE position.
● Develop and present to the Board for approval an annual crop plan that
prioritizes crop rotation, soil fertility, and crop needs for community engagement,
educational programming and food access distribution.
● Determine and make supply, seed, tool, and equipment purchases as needed.
● Manage all growing and harvesting of crops on NCF’s two sites using organic
practices: not limited to but including greenhouse seeding and seedling care,
direct seeding and transplanting, weed and pest management, soil fertility
management, irrigation, harvest, and post-harvest management.
● Coordinate volunteers, lead volunteer groups of a variety of ages and
backgrounds, lead the food access harvests, and work with volunteers on all
aspects of maintaining the farm (with support from the Farm Board).
● Oversee fiscal needs for the farm (farm operations budget and purchases).
● Participate in program planning and curriculum development as needed in the
● Participate in periodic Board meetings as needed, and regular meetings with
contract education and program staff and farm oversight committees.
● Work closely with the Gardening Classes Instructor, affordable housing
gardening program instructors, and YMCA program facilitator on weekly planning
for classes including making sure all needed materials are available.
● Keep up-to-date and detailed records/spreadsheets on planting schedule,
produce distribution, and volunteer tracking.
● Provide assistance with data for grants as needed during fall and winter.
● Make limited public speaking appearances as needed for partnership building,
program advancement and fundraising purposes.
Compensation is hourly and depends on experience.
Please send a resume and cover letter to Debbie at email@example.com. For more information about NCF go to www.needhamfarm.org
CLOSING DATE: December 4, 2016
The Ecological Society of America seeks an Editorial Assistant to help
produce Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a high ranking monthly
journal focusing on ecological and environmental science. The Editorial
Assistant will manage the online peer review system, copyedit manuscripts,
check page proofs, run the twitter account, plus do a little bit of design
and occasional writing. The ideal candidate will be detail-oriented,
focused, able to work cheerfully and accurately under pressure, and will
have experience of Microsoft Office, Twitter, Photoshop, and WordPress. A
relevant Bachelor’s degree is a must (eg Ecology, Environmental Science or
Conservation) plus one to two years’ editorial experience. Downtown
Washington DC location; competitive salary (commensurate with experience)
Email cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references to Dr
Sue Silver, at firstname.lastname@example.org – Put “Editorial Assistant Search” in the
Closing date December 4, 2016.
Heritage Radio Network | Bushwick, Brooklyn Winter 2017
Heritage Radio Network is looking to fill a part time position for a Development Intern. This is a six-month internship, 15 hours weekly (2 days per week), to begin mid-September. This position is unpaid, but can be applied towards school credit.
Heritage Radio Network is a grassroots, action-oriented non-profit Internet radio station focused on creating a food world that is more sustainable, equitable and delicious. Our network boasts 35+ entertaining and informative weekly food- focused programs, and a division of writers who produce stories on topics including Advocacy & Food Policy, Agriculture, Hospitality, Science & Tech, Beverage, and more.
Working at HRN means making a serious commitment to improving the food system and helping to create an exceptional workplace. We are a passionate group of hard workers.
You will be assisting with research, donor management and cultivation efforts reporting directly to the Deputy Director. This position will work both on events and one-off campaigns as well as HRN’s bi-annual fundraising drives. The ideal candidate would be familiar with data manipulation, proficient with CRM software, demonstrate an enthusiasm for outreach, with a keen eye for creating personal touches through written and in-person communication.
- Researching prospective major donors
- Creating fundraising materials through writing and content generation,
assisting with appeals for donors at the middle donor level
- Assist in acknowledging and thanking donors
- Helping to maintain donor records and data hygiene in donor database
- Assist in editing grant proposals or reports and stewardship pieces,
compiling news briefings and blog posts, and designing communications
pieces, as needed
- Attend events and table on behalf of network
Additional responsibilities dependent upon experience and interests.
- Familiar with Google Docs
- Previous experience working with databases preferred
- Experience with graphic design and use of Adobe Creative Suite software
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Exceptional planning and organization skills
- Professional and thorough
- Engaging storyteller
- Ability to make quick and accurate decisions
- Adaptable, and comfortable with the evolving demands of a small,
grassroots media organization
- Self-starter able to set priorities and work independently
- Demonstrated interest in food and farming issues
Desired Personal Characteristics
- Fun and creative
- A love for radio/podcasts!
- Ability to set priorities and follow-through in an environment that changes all the time
- Flexible with a strong work ethic
Please submit resume, cover letter and short writing sample to:
We are looking for undergraduates or recent graduates to join our team of interdisciplinary researchers in northeast Iceland this coming summer. We study the ecology of Lake Myvatn, and interns will be expected to assist in our ongoing LTREB (Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology) project.
We expect the internships to include both NSF-REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) and non-REU positions. Only current undergraduates (not graduating before fall of 2017) with US citizenship are eligible for the REU positions. The non-REU positions are more flexible, although we will not consider applications from people with graduate-level education. The REU and non-REU positions are functionally identical; the only difference is funding source.
SELECTION CRITERIA AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Selection for this internship is extremely competitive: in previous years over 200 people applied for only 4 positions. Please carefully consider your competitiveness for this position before applying.
The research focuses on the population dynamics of midges in Myvatn and the consequences they have for the aquatic and surrounding terrestrial food webs. The work includes conducting lab and field experiments, and collecting arthropod, zooplankton, sediment and plant samples. The research will be divided approximately equally between aquatic and terrestrial systems.
Our interns take primary responsibility for the routine sampling that forms the backbone of the long- term research, in addition to conducting independent projects. Technical lab and (especially) field skills are essential. However, we place primary importance on the ability of prospective interns to work both independently and as part of a research term. We will also consider the ability of applicants to function in the somewhat remote conditions of rural Iceland.
If you are interested in joining our team, please apply with the following:
1. Cover letter
Your cover letter should outline your background and the reasons why you would be a good candidate for this position. Include a discussion of why you want this position and how it relates to your intellectual interests and career goals. In particular, emphasize how your experiences and skills make you a good match for the position. Highlight specific details from your resume or other pertinent information that does not appear on your resume. Include your citizenship, whether you have a valid driver’s license, and your current and future educational plans.
Include a current resume that details your education and work experiences. Provide names and contact information for at least two references whom we can contact to ask specific questions about your background and qualifications for the position.
Submit your application as a single PDF (only 1 file), including cover letter and resume. Email your PDF to Joe Phillips email@example.com. Include your surname in the file (e.g., Smith_Iceland_application.pdf). Put “2017 Summer Research in Iceland” in the subject line of the email. After initial screening of materials, finalists will be contacted for interviews.
For full consideration for summer 2017 internships, please submit your application by 1 December, 2016.
All positions include coverage of travel expenses to and from Iceland, food and lodging, and a small stipend. Interns are expected to join the research team in Iceland from the first week of June to late August. The timing of the fieldwork is dictated by our needs for routine sampling and therefore is inflexible. A critical part of the program is conducting your own research project under our guidance. Past summer research interns have completed their projects as senior research theses or have presented their work at national conferences.
More information about our work and field experiences can be found at our blog,
Joe Phillips (graduate student) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda McCormick (graduate student) – email@example.com
Tony Ives (professor) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudio Gratton (professor) – email@example.com
Marieke Rosenbaum is a Research Assistant Professor and the pathway leader for the Combined DVM-MPH program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Her academic and research interests are focused on health and disease in the context of human-animal relationships. Her current global research activities include studying infectious disease ecology in Peruvian nonhuman primates from a variety of interfaces for human-primate interactions (ie wetmarkets, pet primates, sanctuaries, road side attractions), and how cohabitation with production animals may affect the microbiota of Guatemalan children. Locally, Dr. Rosenbaum studies lead and Salmonella in urban chicken flocks, and Staphylococcus aureus carriage and antimicrobial resistance in greater Boston’s urban rodent population.
Hannah Uebele: Can you tell me how you got interested in this career and how you started?
Marieke Rosenbaum: I got into veterinary medicine because I was always interested in wildlife – my dad was a landscaper and he would always bring home orphaned or injured wildlife and we would sort of rehabilitate them and release them – which really isn’t the way you’re supposed to do it, but that really got me invested in wildlife and conservation. I worked as a wildlife rehabilitator, a licensed rehabilitator in Massachusetts for a couple years. Then I went to vet school thinking I would probably focus on wildlife, but got more and more interested in public health and how the strong and different types of relationships we have with animals might facilitate or promote health, risk, or disease but in a bi-directional manner.
Uebele: For students thinking about becoming a veterinarian or working in areas of animal health, do you recommend they follow the same sort of academic path as you?
Rosenbaum: For me every step has been this cumulative experience and its all helped me get to where I am. I can’t envision for example doing this type of work without having had a vet degree. Largely because it lands me at a veterinarian institution that has a funding mechanism for this type of research, that can sometimes be hard to get as far as pilot projects go. I think in general I’m of the mindset that there’s no right way to do something. You shouldn’t just write off a career path because someone said you had to get all A’s, or you had to go to this school, or get this type of degree, but for me it’s worked out very well. I think to have the veterinary degree with a public health degree is a very strong combination for getting into this type of work.
Uebele: Is there something special that a person must have to be successful in this kind of work that you do?
Rosenbaum: I would say I like it because I feel like you can be very creative. I think one of the biggest challenges when you go through veterinary school is facing the debt that you’re going to have when you get out of veterinary school. That’s something that I think people should always consider as they’re trying to figure out what path to take. The nice thing about the veterinary degree is it’s very versatile so you can do a lot of different things with it. I can work in small animal practice, I can do research, I can work for government, so usually if one road doesn’t work out I think it’s always nice to have options. So I think getting a degree that could lead to whole different career options is sort of a smart route to take so that you can switch it up if you want to.
Uebele: Can you tell me about a moment in your life or a decision that you made that was crucial in getting you to be where you are in your career today?
Rosenbaum: I think enrolling in the DVM/MPH program was huge in that it really expanded my understanding of human public health. Then between my third and my fourth year in veterinary school I was awarded a Fogarty, which is an NIH global clinical research fellowship, so I went to Peru and lived there for two and a half years and got to conduct my own independent research. That opportunity, in sort of a mentored environment, really helped me understand what it takes to do research and whether or not I liked it, and I loved it, and I think that really sort of formed the path my professional path and career trajectory.
Uebele: Looking back is there anything you would do differently or change, that you would want students now to be aware of?
Rosenbaum: I don’t think so, I mean sometimes I think maybe I should’ve gone to medical school, but I just think that the skills I learned in veterinary school are really necessary to a lot of the field work I do which requires sample collection with animals. Maybe I would’ve thought about trying to attend the cheapest veterinary school I could get into, to lower debt level, but I don’t know.
Uebele: Any final advice you have for students wishing to pursue a similar career?
Rosenbaum: I think it’s okay to not know what you want to do and still progress on a career path. Just keep your mind open to opportunities that present themselves and don’t be afraid to be creative, and do what you love.