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Working with the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) PI, Conservation Canines (CK9) Operations Manager, and CK9 Project Leads, the person in this position will participate hands-on research and basic project management activities related to applying detection dog methodology to a wide variety of research projects. These research projects are often centered around wildlife conservation, but may include other scientific fields such as environmental toxicology, forensic science, or invasive species biology. The person in this position will be part of any number of internal CCB research projects, as well as research projects directed by external collaborators and clients such as government agencies, non-profit research groups, or private companies.
The ability to work with detection dogs is a unique and highly specialized research technique that goes far beyond animal husbandry. The person in this position will have advanced to a stage of skill with this research technique that they no longer are considered apprentices, and are deemed capable of applying the research method independently in the field, under the supervision of a Project Lead.
RESPONSIBILITIES Research Effective application of scent detection dog methodology to the search for molecular samples:
Continuous honing of dog ethology skills, including individual dog variation in change in behaviors related to target scent detection, non-target scent detection, motivation, etc.
Understanding how terrain, wind speed and pattern, vegetation, and temperature simultaneously influence scent cones (odor emitted by scat sample)
Using expertise in the above two skill sets to continuously assess, optimize, and direct the dog’s search through each landscape encountered over the course of a field day.
Assist Project Lead with assessing (on the fly while in the field), how to most effectively use field days to achieve scientific goals of the research project (e.g. mark-recapture population estimation, occupancy modeling, landscape genetics, physiological effects of a heterogeneous environment, etc.). This includes knowledge of field survey designs for various statistical objectives, such as mark-recapture, one-zero sampling, or line transects. For example, an alternate survey design may be better suited to a specific terrain, vegetation, or daily temperature cycle, or observed species-specific scat deposition behavior may require targeted searches of specific microhabitat.
Use past experience to identify and suggest improvements to sample collection protocols (e.g. swabbing external epithelial cells, drying vs freezing samples, etc.). For example, observe temperature or precipitation patterns may make one sample preservation method better than another. This is an especially important role, as many external project PIs are unfamiliar with the most up-to-date collection and preservation methods as validated by the CCB.
Independent training of detection dogs on new species as need arises.
Ability to work independently for long hours in remote field conditions for long periods of time.
Data Collection and Management:
Collecting molecular samples
Familiarity with ODK and ArcGIS to the extent that they may assist the Project Lead with spatial data collection and visualization. .
Collecting data related to sample location and condition, such as vegetation, microhabitat, canopy cover, terrain slope and aspect, weather, relative sample degradation/condition, visual inspection of content, odor, etc.
Data organization and compilation into project-specific databases, as directed by Project Lead.
Conducts experiments of sample detection, dog behavior, sample preservation, or other assorted research questions as they arise in the field, as directed by Project Lead. This may include taking measurements, recording observations, and data management, in addition to the primary responsibility of working with the detection dog.
Technical proficiency with:
Manual and digital pipettes
Contamination-free collection techniques of wildlife scat samples
Molecular sample preservation in liquid media (cell lysis and PBS buffer solutions) and dehydration techniques
Inreach Satellite Emergency Devices
Detection dog equipment: harnesses, crates, cooling vests, floatation vests, foot protection, eye protection, and canine first aid kits.
Project Management Assist Operations Manager and Project Leads with communication with clients, prior to and after project. Maintain direct and professional communication with clients when independently deployed on field projects.
Assist the Operations Manager and Project Leads with preparing for field projects (or taking primary role in the following as needed):
Completing paperwork for various permits (sample collection, travel, veterinary, etc.)
Developing lists, procuring, and assembly of necessary supplies and equipment
Coordinating travel arrangements.
While deployed on field projects:
Interacts in a collaborative manner with other team members and project PI to accomplish project goals as set by project PI.
Maintaining health and wellbeing of detection dog while in the field.
Tracking research expenses
Maintaining a picture and video database to facilitate easy recovery and distribution of images from the field for project reports and papers.
Making purchases for the field team.
At conclusion of field projects:
Contributing data and/or updates for use in reports and publications. Assist the Operations Manager and the Project Leads with writing project status reports as needed.
Prepare necessary spreadsheets and other paperwork related to expenses.
During time not on deployment, at Pack Forest CK9 facility:
Self-motivated evaluation and anticipation of staffing needs, and making adjustments to work schedule to respond to those needs.
Making purchases for the CK9 facility.
Assist CCB PI, the Operations Manager, and the Project Leads with maintaining and cultivating the donor database, responding to donor requests, running donor email and snail mail list.
Assist CCB PI, the Operations Manager, and the Project Leads with contributing to social media networks, including generating the content to post, updating public relations information, and maintaining overall professionalism.
Assist the Operations Manager and the Project Leads as needed to keep hand-held and field computers updated and operational, and track and log field gear.
Bachelor's degree in life science (Biology) or related field and less than one year of experience.
Excellent wilderness skills
Demonstrated excellence in communication and interpersonal skills.
Excellent planning and organizational skills including the ability to supervise others.
Self starter with ability to work independently, as well as part of a team.
Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively and productively with a variety of people including undergraduate students, graduate students, academic PIs, government agency representatives, field technicians, citizen scientists and volunteers, donors and administrative staff.
Flexibility with work schedule to anticipate and meet deadlines and the needs of the projects. Ability to work long days as needed to achieve major deadlines with compensatory time off at another date.
PC and Mac literate
Ability and willingness to learn new computer applications related to research and job requirements.
Minimum of one year of experience as a dog handler in a canine scent detection program
Interest in conservation biology; experience with remote field work; experience with ArcGIS.
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT: Must be able to work a flexible work schedule with longer days as needed to meet major deadlines with compensatory time off at other times. Must have experience working with scent detection dogs.
Application Process: The application process for UW positions may include completion of a variety of online assessments to obtain additional information that will be used in the evaluation process. These assessments may include Work Authorization, Cover Letter and/or others. Any assessments that you need to complete will appear on your screen as soon as you select “Apply to this position”. Once you begin an assessment, it must be completed at that time; if you do not complete the assessment you will be prompted to do so the next time you access your “My Jobs” page. If you select to take it later, it will appear on your "My Jobs" page to take when you are ready. Please note that your application will not be reviewed, and you will not be considered for this position until all required assessments have been completed.
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