Paid Master of Science position studying the role of wildfire on aquatic species with Dr. Kellie Carim ’06

13 October 2022

The University of Montana Wildlife Biology Program, in collaboration with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is seeking applicants for a Master of Science position studying the role of wildfire on distributions of sensitive aquatic species in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The student will use environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to determine the presence of aquatic species across watersheds and combine distribution data with habitat characteristics to develop species distribution models. The goal of this work is to 1) develop species distribution models for bull trout (listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act), sculpin, and tailed frog; 2) explore the influence of wildfire history, extent, and severity on the distributions of these species; and 3) provide mangers with information on the distribution of sensitive aquatic species in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Spotted Bear Wilderness Areas.

This position will require collection of field samples (June – August). In collaboration with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and HereMT, the student will lead crews of citizen scientists from diverse backgrounds collecting eDNA samples in the South Fork and Middle Fork Flathead River drainages. Field work will involve hiking (while carrying a pack weighing up to 20 lbs) and camping in remote areas for up to a week at a time. This position will also require quantitative modeling of species distributions based on presence absence data obtained from eDNA samples. Training on conducting field work in a wilderness setting (including wilderness first aid) as well as training on diversity, equity, and inclusion will be provided.

This project is supported by the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. The anticipated start data is no later than June of 2023. The position includes an annual graduate stipend of $25,300; tuition and fees will be covered.


Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, biology, ecology, statistics, or a related field.

Interest in building strong quantitative skills, the ability to work in a remote field setting, and illustrated capacity to learn or experience with programming such as R and GIS are preferred. This position will require leadership skills and the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity Statement:

The University of Montana values leadership, engagement, diversity, and sustainability, because our institution is committed to respecting, welcoming, encouraging, and celebrating the differences among us. As members of the University of Montana community, we aspire to: (1) Respect the dignity and rights of all persons; (2) Practice honesty, trustworthiness, and academic integrity; (3) Promote justice, learning, individual success, and service; (4) Act as good stewards of institutional resources; and (5) Respect the natural environment.

The Wildlife Biology Program has adopted a holistic approach to graduate admissions as part of our efforts to achieve a more diverse cohort of graduate students with varied experience, backgrounds, and expertise.

Standardized test scores can be poor predictors of future success, and our current approach may be disadvantageous to underrepresented groups. Graduate admissions rankings will be based on GPA, demonstrated ability to learn necessary skills, achievements in research, outreach, education, and community activities, strong motivations for the degree, demonstrations of leadership, adaptability, accomplishments, as well as letters of recommendation.

How to apply:

Interested individuals should complete the first step of the application process by emailing Dr. Kellie Carim, Carleton ’06, ( the following information as attached files (PDF is preferred) with “MSeDNA pyrodiversity” in the subject line no later than November 15th, 2022:

1) Cover letter – briefly describe your interest and qualifications with the project as described above

2) Statement of Purpose outlining the following:

a) Motivation – describe your motivations for obtaining this graduate degree and highlight some of your professional goals. (300-word limit)

b) Accomplishment – describe accomplishments you are most proud of. For example, you may choose to describe a challenge that you overcame and/or an initiative that you have led. (300-word limit)

c) Abilities – provide a statement that illustrates your capacity to learn new skills, adaptability, willingness to challenge yourself, your passion, and/or where you have been key in bringing a project to completion. (300-word limit)

3) Resume/CV

4) Transcripts (unofficial are fine)

5) Names, contact information, for 3 references

6) Any additional information about yourself you feel is relevant to this position

The top qualified applicant(s) will be asked to apply to the Wildlife Biology Program within the University of Montana Graduate School as the second step of the process. Application materials may or may not be the same as the first step of the process. An offer for this position can only be made after applicants are accepted into the University of Montana’s Wildlife Biology Program.


Application review will begin November 15th, 2022. Candidates will be contacted in late November and early December for interviews. For the top qualified applicant(s) asked to proceed to the second step of the process, applications for the Wildlife Biology Program are due by January 1st, 2023. Field work for this position will begin in June of 2023. The exact start date prior to field work is flexible depending on the student’s qualifications and need for additional training. The first academic semester for this project will be Fall of 2023.