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Master’s Graduate Assistantship – Design & Implementation of Citizen Science

Starting Fall 2018 at NC State University (2-year position)

The College of Natural Resources (CNR) at North Carolina State University invites applications for a M.S.-level assistantship beginning in Fall 2018 (start dates are negotiable). The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Dr. Caren Cooper (Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Resources & NC Museum of Natural Sciences) and be self-motivated and hardworking with interests in human dimensions, communication, and policy research related to citizen science. With funds from the EPA, and in collaboration with social and environmental justice organizations and Virginia Tech, the student will assist with a new project to discover, model, and communicate risk of lead in tap water across the United States. The student will help with the design and implementation of a national inventory of premise and service line pipes in the United States, additional protocols related to infrastructure and water attributes, multi-modal communication of risk estimates to varied stakeholders, and assessment of learning outcomes.

Possible research directions include, but are not limited to:

  • risk communication in citizen science contexts
  • legal, ethical, technological, and social issues related to data privacy and sharing
  • value-sensitive design to culturally adapt project protocols and materials for diverse populations
  • assessment of learning outcomes and actions (household, community, political, etc)

Key Responsibilities & Opportunities:

  • Work with faculty advisor and project post-doc to advance citizen science theory and practice by conducting literature reviews and crafting innovative research projects (assisting or leading study design, data collection, and analysis).
  • Work with faculty advisor and project post-doc to identify and build partnerships with conservation, health, and social justice organizations for collaboration on public engagement in citizen science.
  • Assist or lead in developing peer-reviewed journal articles, academic presentations, non-technical reports and outreach materials, and other project deliverables.
  • Train and supervise undergraduate research assistants.
  • Contribute to the activities of the cluster on Leadership in Public Science, which offers unique intellectual focus and professional development in the realm of citizen science and science communication.
  • Engage with colleagues in the Biodiversity Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where students will have ample opportunities to develop their science communication skills.

Required Qualifications:

  • Undergraduate degree in human dimensions of natural resources, social sciences, information sciences, science communication, public policy, or any of numerous fields relevant to citizen science
  • Demonstrated research experience (data collection, analysis, and writing)
  • Excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong commitment to citizen science
  • Interest in interdisciplinary (social and biological) research
  • Commitment to environmental justice
  • Meet admissions requirements of the NC State Graduate School


Desired Qualifications:

  • Some background and/or coursework in communication, human dimensions, environmental policy, or related fields
  • Experience with quantitative research and analysis skills, including survey development and implementation
  • Experience working in citizen science contexts as a researcher and/or practitioner

Assistantship Package: The assistantship provides a competitive stipend, tuition, student fees, and health insurance. They assume 20 hours per week dedicated to the project and 20 hours dedicated to coursework. M.S. position is renewable for up to 2 years based on satisfactory progress.

Starting Date: The negotiable starting date for the assistantship is August 15, 2018.

How to Apply: To apply, submit a pre-application to Dr. Cooper at by April 2.  Submit pre-application as a single PDF file attached to an email introducing yourself with “CitSci graduate application” in the email subject line.:
1) cover letter summarizing interest in the position, qualifications, and experience, as well as research and career goals
2) Curriculum Vitae
3) Names, contact information, and short description of relationship for three professional references
Selected applicants will also need to apply to the Dept of Forestry & Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University before acceptance.

The position will remain open until filled, with all applications submitted by April 2, 2018 receiving full consideration. If selected for the position, applicants will be asked to submit an online application to the NC State Graduate School.

About the College of Natural Resources (CNR):

CNR is a world leader in the sustainable use of natural resources. CNR’s comprehensive approach to teaching, research and service encompasses the many and varied ways in which people’s physical, economic and social needs are met through the wise use of natural resources. CNR is committed to interdisciplinary research, teaching and engagement, as nurturing and enjoying the environment and engineering sustainable products go hand-in-hand with helping communities and enterprises thrive. The faculty, staff, students and alumni of CNR are discovering and sharing real world solutions to real world problems every day.

About the NC Museum of Natural Sciences:

With 1.2 million visitors annually, the NCMNS brings the public in contact with science and scientists. The Museum began in 1879, with many expansions to support both visitors and a growing research collection. In 2012, the NCMNS opened a new wing, the 80,000 ft2 educational and research facility called the Nature Research Center (NRC). Cooper’s lab is one of several enclosed in glass for visitors to view ongoing research by faculty and their students. The centerpiece of the museum is the Daily Planet, which is the largest globe in the world from the outside, and a 3-story multi-media theater on the inside. Cooper, graduate students, and other scientists have opportunities to talk to the public in this theater.

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