Oregon State University Faculty Research Assistant in Corvallis, Oregon

Internal Job Number: P02595UF


The Institute of Natural Resources invites applications for a full-time (1.00 FTE), 12-month, Faculty Research Assistant position. Reappointment is at the discretion of the Director.

The position will focus on understanding the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the demography and habitat associations of the fisher (Pekania pennanti) in the southern Sierra Nevada. Primary factors of interest include forest management activities such as thinning and prescribed fire, tree mortality related to bark-beetles, and changes in climatic conditions that could influence forest habitat conditions or fisher use of the landscape. The incumbent primarily serves as a geospatial analyst providing geographical analysis and data processing to various projects primarily associated with fisher research. Primary duties are in GIS, spatial modeling, remote sensing, and data processing support. Principle foci include (1) extracting environmental variables from existing raster map layers, in order to relate species (e.g., fisher) locations to the amount and configuration of surrounding habitat elements and topographic elements at multiple scales; (2) deriving landscape metrics from raster layers; (3) processing and analysis of animal movement data; (4) applying remote sensing techniques to map land cover types (e.g. tree mortality) in the study area using satellite imagery. Of note, although some field work is ongoing, most of the data to be used in analysis have already been collected as part of two long term studies of fisher ecology in the southern Sierra Nevada. The incumbent will thus be contributing to final analyses and products that stem from a decade of field work on a species of high regional conservation value, and will be supporting collaborations with other professionals working to address various questions related to fisher ecology in a changing forest environment.

Minimum Qualifications (Staff) / Guidelines (Faculty):

Requires Bachelor’s degree in discipline appropriate to the field in which research is being conducted.

Requirements :

Masters degree in forestry, wildlife, geography, or related natural resources field.

Must have the following competencies in GIS:

  • Working with geographic data in ArcGIS, QGIS, and R
  • Extracting raster data to vector attributes
  • Using Gradient Nearest Neighbor (GNN) forest structure data for habitat modeling
  • Working with animal movement data, including cleaning and preparing data for analysis and performing descriptive analyses on the data
  • Modeling animal home ranges in R using kernel density estimation
  • Experience with spatial analysis tools and techniques (e.g. minimum distance, map algebra, moving windows, zonal statistics)
  • Reclassifying raster data and more generally making raster calculations
  • Working with raster Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to create maps of slope and aspect
  • Experience automating tasks using computer programming routines (in R, Python, ArcGIS ModelBuilder)
  • Creating publication quality maps and figures

Must have the following competencies in remote sensing:

  • Identifying land cover characteristics by visually interpreting high resolution satellite data across various elevations in the southern Sierra Nevada, California
  • Creating training and validation datasets for supervised classifications (ArcGIS/QGIS)
  • Using RapidEye, Landsat, and NAIP data products
  • Performing atmospheric corrections to satellite data
  • Performing Random Forest classification and regression using R
  • Performing Principal Components Analysis on raster data in R
  • Conducting accuracy assessments of land cover classifications
  • Creating scatter plots to help distinguish land cover types in the spectral domain

Must have the following competencies in landscape ecology:

  • Calculating landscape metrics in FRAGSTATS (e.g. edge metrics, land cover proportions, etc.)
  • Formatting raster datasets for input to FRAGSTATS
  • A theoretical understanding of various landscape metrics, including those related to habitat configuration and composition.
  • Understanding of spatial scale and the implications of differing scales of analysis

Must have the following additional skills:

  • Data organization and database management (Microsoft Access and Excel)
  • Writing skills, including experience with grant writing.
  • Ability to work well as part of a team and communicate with co-workers and collaborators

This position requires driving a University vehicle or a personal vehicle on behalf of the University; therefore, the incumbent must successfully complete a Motor Vehicle History Check, possess and maintain a current, valid driver’s license in their state of residence, be determined to be position qualified and self-report convictions (as per Voluntary and Compulsory Driver Standards OAR 125-155-0200) as per OAR 576-056-0000 et seq.

Additional Salary Information: $42,300