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Native American Research Assistantship Program

Beginning in 2023, the U.S. Geological Survey will be joining the Native American Research Assistantship Program, a professional development program administered by The Wildlife Society. 

The Native American Research Assistantship Program offers annual summer research assistantships for Native undergraduate or graduate students in partnership with The Wildlife Society (TWS). The program was originally established in 2014 to facilitate opportunities for Native students to be mentored by federal scientists and promote student advancement and training for careers in natural resource and conservation-related fields. Building on a long history of collaboration with U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Native American Research Assistantship Program will be expanded starting summer 2023 to include placement of Native students at both USFS and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  

By joining the Native American Research Assistantship Program, USGS science will benefit from incorporating Native perspectives and leveraging relationships with Native communities to advance the USGS mission. The program also advances USGS science by focusing summer assistantship projects on important research relating to natural resources. 

USGS, USFS and TWS are committed to enhancing the racial and ethnic diversity within the community of natural resource professionals. We are particularly focused on the integration and recruitment of Native and Indigenous scholars and early career scientists because we recognize that Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge and expertise held by Tribes and Native communities can be braided with western science and other scientific approaches to sustain and restore ecosystems. 

Information for USGS Mentors 

Research proposals are due annually by mid-October. Exact dates will be published with the request for proposals each year. Contact Jennifer Malpass with questions.  

Information for Students 

Paid assistantships are available for Native students interested in wildlife and forest resource research and management. Starting in 2023, both in-person and virtual internships will be offered. Students will learn and work with an interdisciplinary team of researchers with the USFS or USGS. Students will participate in laboratory or field data collection, data entry, and analysis as it relates to wildlife ecology and management. The research assistantship will afford students the opportunity to explore careers in wildlife and natural resource management and advance their science communication skills. Students will be provided the opportunity to assist in publishing manuscript(s) in peer-reviewed journals, popular press, and/or present findings at scientific meetings along with project scientists (dependent on travel funding).  

How to Apply 

All application materials are due annually by mid-January. Exact dates will be published with application instructions each year. 

To apply, students will need to prepare the following materials: 

  • A cover letter indicating to which research project(s) you are applying 

  • Resume/CV 

  • Official or unofficial academic transcripts 

  • Verification of Native ethnicity (e.g., tribal member enrollment) 

  • Two letters of recommendation 

Applicants must be a member of a Native American or Alaska Native Tribe, First Nations or a Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or have another indigenous identification, and be currently enrolled in or recently graduated from an undergraduate or graduate program from an accredited academic institution. Pursuit of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in wildlife biology, ecology, forestry or other closely related natural resource discipline is preferred. Students with related associate’s degrees from tribal colleges and universities or other community colleges are eligible to apply. Recent graduates will also be considered. 

The ideal candidate will have strong verbal and written communication skills with demonstrated capabilities in science writing, ability to work both independently and as a productive member of a research team, and an ability to work under adverse field conditions (possible extreme weather, difficult terrain, venomous snakes and biting/stinging insects). Submission of a writing sample is optional. Students with a GPA above 3.0 are preferred, and students with a minimum 2.5 GPA will be considered. Current membership with The Wildlife Society is not required. 

2023 USGS Projects 

  • Hyperspectral Identification of Harmful Algal Blooms in the Klamath Basin and Beyond 

    • Mentor: Natalie Hall, MD-DE-DC Water Science Center

  • Identifying the Potential Socio-Economic Effects of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on Native Americans 

    • Mentor: Scott Chiavacci, USGS Science and Decisions Center 

  • Tribal Data-Network Infrastructure Plan – Transfer of US Geological Technology to Tribal Nations 

    • Mentors: Andy Waite, New York Water Science Center; and Greg Stewart, New England Water Science Center 

Only a limited number of projects will be funded and are dependent on a suitable student/mentor match. Additional information about the 2023 cohort is available here

To apply for the 2023 cohort, please download the application instructions. The deadline for student applications is Jan. 15, 2023.