Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

MS in Avian Ecology and Migration 

The Contina Lab in the School of Integrative Biological and Chemical Sciences at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is looking for two motivated graduate students (MS) to join our team. We study the ecological mechanisms underlying species resilience under local and global change, with emphasis on migratory populations. Our lab focuses on species that exhibit quantifiable variation in response to environmental change such as buntings, warblers, jays, and plovers. Through a combination of cutting-edge tools including tracking devices and molecular methods, we promote a novel framework in Movement Ecology. Prospective students are expected to develop their own research questions and explore new interdisciplinary approaches. The lab offers several research opportunities with particular emphasis on stable isotopes, modeling, and bioacoustics. An overview of the research conducted in recent years can be found here: https://sites.google.com/view/contina 
 
Required qualifications. An undergraduate degree in Biology, Ecology, Wildlife Conservation, or related field from an accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent institution abroad is required to begin a MS program. The selected individual must meet eligibility requirements to work in the United States at the time of appointment. Proficiency in written and spoken English is required. UTRGV admission guidelines can be found here: https://shorturl.at/coG04 
 
Application description. Complete applications must include: 1) a one-page cover letter that addresses your experiences and goals with respect to this position as well as how you meet the required and desired qualifications; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) contact information for three references; and 4) copies of all post-secondary transcripts. All materials should be compiled as a single PDF document and submitted to Dr. Andrea Contina (andrea.contina@utrgv.edu). Please include Graduate Student Application in the email subject line. 
 
Application deadlines. October 15 (Spring 2024) and June 1 (Fall 2024). 
 
Location. Considered a biodiversity hotspot, Lower Rio Grande Valley and the surrounding region lie at the confluence of the desert, temperate, and tropical biomes, which have undergone significant fragmentation due to agricultural expansion and subsequent urbanization. The region boasts more than half the U.S. bird species, 42% of all U.S. butterfly species, and 45 federal and state threatened or endangered species. Within a 150-mile radius, there are multiple National Wildlife Refuges, State Parks, and private reserves, even as industrialization (e.g., SpaceX, LNG, Port of Brownsville) continues.