Job opportunity: Field Experiment Technician

posted on February 2, 2017 5:05pm

Field experiment at Kellogg Biological Station (view larger image)
Field experiment at Kellogg Biological Station

Position Announcement Field Experiment Technician: Climate Change and Herbivore Effects on Plant Communities

Position description: The Field Technician will directly manage a long-term climate warming experiment on early successional plant communities in Michigan, USA. The goal of the experiment is to quantify the single and interactive effects of climate warming and insect herbivory on plant communities through time. The Field Technician would oversee two experimental sites, to ensure their proper functioning and record long-term ecological data on plants, insects, and climate. The two sites are located at: Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research site (KBS LTER), in Hickory Corners, Michigan, and the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston, Michigan. The individual will work directly under Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske to determine the experiment’s management needs, and will be based at one or both of the sites throughout the summer. Responsibilities include field data collection, data entry, applying insecticide treatments twice monthly during the growing season, and maintaining the experiment infrastructure. The position would also involve co-designing and constructing precipitation treatments at one or both sites. Preference will be given to individuals with experience in ecological field work with plants and/or insects. Position is available for 1 field season (March - early October 2017), with the potential for extension, contingent on satisfactory progress and funding. See more about the lab’s research at the Spatial and Community Ecology website.


  • Significant coursework in ecology, plant biology, or related field

  • Strong written and verbal communication

  • State of Michigan Certified Pesticide Applicator or willing to become certified in March 2017

  • Experience with Microsoft Excel, Google Drive, Google Docs

  • Follow protocols precisely, attention to detail

  • Ability to work independently for full days

  • Ability to mentor undergraduate research assistant (May-August)

  • Willing to occasionally work long hours, and weekends

  • Willingness to travel between northern and southern sites, based on data collection schedule

  • Problem solving skills/creativity

  • Ability to work in hot and humid conditions, with biting insects

  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines, including ordering & installing experiment components

  • Interest in being outdoors

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in natural sciences, or related field

  • Research experience involving field work in biology, environmental science, or related field.

  • Data management and analysis skills

  • Basic carpentry/ ability to design and build simple rain-out shelters

  • Experience driving 4 wheel drive vehicles

  • Experience with R Software

  • Knowledge of common Michigan plant species

  • Ability to key out plant species

  • Knowledge of common insect ID

  • Ability to key out insect/ invertebrate ID

Working Conditions:

The position will be field-based, including some hot and humid weather. Field conditions may include carrying a less than 30-pound pack, carrying 1m x 1m plexiglass panels, and exposure to inclement weather, uneven terrain, insects and allergens.


Kellogg Biological Station, Hickory Corners, MI, and University of Michigan’s Biological Station, Pellston, MI. Zarnetske lab location: Department of Forestry at MSU’s Natural Resources building on the MSU Main Campus (East Lansing, MI).


Starting wage is $15/hour for 20-40 hours per week from March-October, with potential for extension, based on performance and funding.


Email as one PDF: 1) a 1-page letter of interest detailing qualifications for the position and the dates/times of availability, 2) resume/CV with contact information for 2 references, 3) unofficial transcripts. Email: Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Applications will be considered until February 28, or until the position has been filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University (MSU) is committed to achieving excellence by creating and sustaining an accessible and inclusive culture that values cultural and academic diversity. MSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. The CANR is particularly interested in candidates of all backgrounds who are committed to the principle that academic excellence is achieved through open access and proactive inclusion. The University is proactive about its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and provides individual accessibility plans to students and employees with disabilities. MSU is also proactive in exploring opportunities for employment for dual career families, both inside and outside of the University, and respects all family forms. Information about MSU’s dual career support can be found at Information about WorkLife at MSU can be found at