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Volunteer Research Assistant - Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, Uganda

Hiring Organization:
Ngogo Chimpanzee Project

Date Posted:
2018-06-18

Position Description:
I am seeking a research assistant to help with data collection on chimpanzee behavior, energetics, and health at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda from September 2018 to June 2019. The research is part of my dissertation project investigating chimpanzee aging and foraging.

The successful applicants' main responsibilities will be:
- Following chimpanzees daily
- Collecting urine and feces
- Collecting behavioral data
Additional responsibilities will include help with camp organization and maintenance and working with a team of local Ugandan field assistants.

This position is ideal for someone who is interested in graduate school and/or a career in wildlife biology, evolutionary anthropology, or related fields. The research assistant will receive mentoring in research methods, writing, and other components necessary for becoming a successful scientist.

This research project falls under the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, whose mission is to conduct scientific research and maintain the long-term study of the Ngogo community of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, to conserve animal populations throughout the park, and to support the education of local people of all ages. The project is directed by Dr. John Mitani, Dr. David Watts, and Dr. Kevin Langergraber. The Ngogo community is a habituated group of nearly 200 chimpanzees, who the research assistant will come to know well.

Ngogo camp is situated in the middle of Kibale National Park, Uganda, a gorgeous and well protected mid-altitude rainforest. It is a 45 min drive to the nearest village, 2 hours to the nearest town (Fort Portal), 6 hours from the capital (Kampala) and 7 hours from the international airport (Entebbe). Our camp is isolated and rustic but comfortable. We have a cabin for storage, preparing food, and eating meals. We sleep in tents beneath open-air structures. Camp uses rain water (filtered for drinking), solar electricity for basic device charging, and a pit-latrine. We have limited internet access via cell phone connectivity - enough for audio and occasionally video calls. An assistant can travel to town every two weeks, when we make trips for supplies.

This is an immersive and demanding position. The research assistant is expected to work 5-6 days/week in the forest (following chimps for 10-12 hours/day). Given the nature of fieldwork, responsibilities may change, and applicants for this position should be open and flexible. An additional, smaller component of the time will be spent working with a local primary school. We will design education materials and work with the school committee to improve infrastructure and quality of education at the school.

Qualifications/Experience:
Applicants must:
- Have aptitude and strong interest in biology, ecology, anthropology, or a related field.
- Be mature, independent, responsible, and culturally sensitive.
- Be of sufficient physical, mental, and emotional condition to live and work in a remote tropical rainforest which requires hours of hiking every day. While there are no large predators in the forest, individuals may encounter potentially dangerous animals like snakes and elephants and must be comfortable dealing with those situations.
- Be able to work well with others in close proximity and be comfortable living with a small team.
- Be comfortable both following instructions and using personal initiative.
- Speak fluent English to permit communication with me.

Preference will be given to applicants who:
- Have previous fieldwork experience especially with wildlife.
- Have experience with education or sustainable development.
- Have international travel experience, particularly in remote and rural areas.
- *Preference will also be given to Ugandan applicants*.

Applicants who are enthusiastic about the position but do not fulfill ideal qualities are nevertheless encouraged to apply.

Salary/funding:
This is a volunteer position, so there is no salary. However, the project will cover living expenses, one round trip from Kampala to the research site, and round-trip plane tickets and visas (if necessary) to be reimbursed upon the successful completion of fieldwork. This means that the successful applicant will be provided with accommodations (tent), food, and other basic supplies at the field-site. They are responsible for any additional expenses incurred while traveling in Uganda (during breaks from work), other travel costs like extra baggage, health insurance, vaccines, field clothing and footwear, and other personal expenses that may be incurred. For applicants who do not require international travel (Ugandans, East Africans), these expenses may be covered.

If upfront costs are prohibitive, it is still worth inquiring about the position as project finances are still being finalized. Additional compensation may be possible based on the availability of funds from pending grant applications. In particular, I hope the position may cover emergency health insurance, but unfortunately cannot guarantee this at this time. I can also work with the successful applicant to apply for grants to cover other costs associated with joining the project.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
See above.

Term of Appointment:
Term of Appointment: September 2018 - June 2019 with possibility to extend through August. A minimum commitment of 9 months is required.

Application Deadline:
June 12, 2018, but see below

Comments:
Applicants should submit the following to finkelb@umich.edu :
(1) a cover letter stating their research interests and previous experience (2 page max).
(2) a detailed CV.
(3) the names and emails of two references and how you are affiliated with them.

Applications needed to be submitted by June 12th for full consideration. However, I will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. Those interested should apply ASAP. I plan to make final decisions by the end of June.

Please email if you have any questions! I am happy to provide more details about the
research and field site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Information:
Ben Finkel
Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
USA

Website:
https://sites.google.com/umich.edu/benfinkel/home

E-mail Address:
finkelb@umich.edu

Questions and Comments

Questions about a specific job listing should be directed to the contact person listed for that job. Questions and comments about using the Primate-Jobs web site can be directed to Joe Kemnitz at kemnitz@primate.wisc.edu.