Category Archives: Education & Training

Relating to ethology and science in general

Poster Toaster (1) | D.Day 2014 Lausanne

The idea is to review academic posters based on the way their content is organised and formatted in order to gain insights into strategies to keep or avoid when creating one.

I took photos of posters presented during a day-long conference for doctoral students of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine at the University of Lausanne. Below is one of them.

(click to enlarge)
poster d day 1

Boxes boxes boxes

This student obviously likes to separate information into boxes. I do think boxes can be beneficial when used parsimoniously, to highlight a particular information for example. When used throughout a poster, however, they start to loose their effectiveness. In this case, the lines separating the boxes are so thin, and the text and figures are so close to them, that they are hardly do their “job”.

The classic “Too much text”

Although the text occupies only a minority of the poster area, it is made up of sentences and the font is small – information is therefore somewhat difficult to read.

Use of colour

I like that there is colour in this poster, but I does not appear to have a specific purpose. Indeed, it is used for the section numbers, the figures, the conclusion, it is in the logos near the title. Is it there to organise the flow of reading, highlight important information, or make figures more pleasing to the eye? Such inconsistent use of colour tends to be distracting.

Any thought?


PhD position (funded): Stress response and resilience in honey bees

Are you interested in helping understand the decline in honey bee populations and ready to move to France to start work in the beginning of 2014? Then this project might be for you.

See the whole ad for more information on the work to be done and the requirements to apply => These_AstrApis_INRA

Postdoc opportunity: Neuroscience

Leiden University, The  Institute of Biology

The Institute of Biology (IBL) is part of the Faculty of Science. It is located in the Leiden Bioscience Park in the recently refurbished Sylvius building, providing state-of-the-art facilities for biological research. It collaborates with neighboring institutes including the Leiden University Medical Centre, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and institutes in the Faculty of Science. Research in the IBL ranges from the molecular to the population level and from mechanistic to evolutionary approaches. The Institute has a long tradition of excellence in fundamental research in a broad range of biological subjects. It fosters an international atmosphere with strong interactions among the various groups as well as with other departments within the Faculty of Science and other partners. The IBL contributes to the Faculty priority area ‘Bioscience: the Science Base of Health’. To further strengthen its profile in this area, the Institute invites applicants that can contribute to its Animal Sciences program. This program unites researchers working on animal behavior, developmental zoology, evo-devo, and molecular and cell biology. We are seeking a:

Postdoc in Neuroscience (38 hours per week)

Vacancy number: 13-209

Duties and responsibilities

We are looking for a:

  • ·         Researcher with excellent qualifications.
  • ·         We encourage applications from individuals who can link animal behaviour to processes at the neural, physiological or molecular level and who work on topics such as behavioural neuroscience, molecular neuroscience, neurogenomics, developmental neurobiology or stress related research.
  • ·          We have a clear preference for candidates with expertise that connects to, and supports, current research interests and model organisms within the IBL, in particular zebra fish or zebra finch with a comparative perspective.
  • ·         The successful candidate is expected to contribute to the IBL’s biology teaching program at BSc and MSc levels, in particular in the area of neurobiology and animal physiology.


  • ·         You are an enthusiastic candidate with a PhD degree and some years of experience at the postdoctoral level.
  • ·         Your research interest connects with one of the current research topics at our Institute.
  • ·         You are eager to join in research collaborations.
  • ·         Familiarity with the Dutch language is not required. We are committed to increase the number of female staff members within our organization and strongly encourage female candidates to apply.

We offer

We offer a three year contract. Appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten), initially for the duration of one year. An extension of two years is possible after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility. The salary will be set, depending on education and work experience, between the gross minimum of 2427,- and gross maximum of 3831,- euros per month, based on full-time employment (salary scale: 10). In addition, Leiden University provides an annual holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package. All of our newly appointed staff members are being introduced to the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO), which is an individually-tailored learning process to obtain teaching qualifications. If needed, BKO facilitates in (further) developing your teaching skills.


Prof. dr. Carel ten Cate (e-mail: – phone +31-71-527 5040

For more information about employment at Leiden University, visit:  Additionally, you can visit the websites of the Faculty of Science and IBL: and


Written applications using the vacancy number and including a brief description of research interests and experience, a full vitae, a list of publications, as well as the names and addresses of at least three persons who have agreed to be contacted for references, should be submitted before 15 August, via email, to: Mrs. S. Wijfjes-Chang:  

MSc opportunity: Site fidelity, infant mortality, and population recruitment in the Forest Caribou

This project is the result of a collaboration between different institutions, but the successful candidate will be based in Quebec University at Rimouski. There will be no field work.

For this program, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

– be fluent in french
– read and write in english
– be motivated and determined to follow through with the program and publish the results
– appreciate collaboration
– experience in statistical (R) and geomatic (ArcGIS) analysis

To apply send cover letter, CV, transcripts, contact information of at least 2 references before the 12th of August 2013 to Martin-Hughes St-Lauren at [].

More info <==

Research Internship – marine mammals and sea turtles

For those of you interested in marine science and boat-based field research:

Fall 2013

Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Research Internship

Program Description
The IMMS Research Internship Program is designed as a way for students interested in a career in marine science to gain valuable research experience in a real-world setting. Interns will participate with multiple projects involving bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and diamondback terrapins. As an intern, you will be trained in all aspects of dolphin photo-id research, sea turtle satellite tracking, and other current research projects at IMMS. Interns will also participate in other operations at IMMS including stranding response, education, and animal care. Our goal is to give Interns a well-rounded experience in a variety of areas while providing expert training and experience in marine science research.
Principle Duties include: data entry, searching and cataloging journal articles, learning all research protocols, cropping and sorting photo-id fin images, learning to use photo-id programs such as Darwin (fin matching software), and FinBase (Microsoft Access), boat based field research (21’ and 31’ boats), and learn how to use ArcGIS

  • Secondary Duties involve: Assisting with animal care staff, attending marine mammal necropsies, responding to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings, and assisting with educational tours.
  • Field days: Interns must be able to spend many hours on the water and on shore in sometimes extreme seasonal conditions. Seasonal temperatures range from over 100 °F in summer to 30 °F in winter. Field days typically exceed eight hours and occur at least two or three times a week.

To Apply: Please visit our website at

Volunteer – Behavioural Ecology and Conservation of Bottlenose Dolphins

Why don’t I live in New Zealand, damn it?

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus

Volunteers required to assist with a study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Northland, New Zealand


The Coastal-Marine Research Group (C-MRG – was established under the auspices of the Institute of Natural Sciences (INS) at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand in 2000. Since then, both its staff and postgraduate students have undertaken marine mammal research within and beyond New Zealand waters, concentrating specifically on conservation and management orientated questions.

Volunteers are required to assist on a PhD study (supervised by Dr Karen Stockin, Massey University and Prof Mark Orams, AUT University) to assess the behavioural ecology and conservation of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand. Bottlenose dolphins are classified as nationally endangered within New Zealand waters (Baker et al 2010), with a local population recently described (Tezanos-Pinto et al in press). This study builds upon earlier research undertaken by Tezanos-Pinto (2009) and Constantine (2002) and will among other things, reassess the status and effects of tourism interactions (a decade on from Constantine 2002).

The field season runs year round and volunteers are required for all periods. A minimum commitment of three months is preferred, with priority given to those who can commit for longer periods.

The volunteer team will be required to fulfill several key roles:

1) Assist on a 5.5m dedicated research vessel operating from the Bay of Islands. Surveys will involve daily return trips (not overnight) and be conducted in favorable conditions only. As such, no minimum or maximum number of research days onboard the research vessel can be guaranteed

2) Assist with vessel of opportunity data collection in the Bay of Islands

3) Assist with data processing and preliminary analysis on bad weather days

4) Undertake additional responsibilities/roles as the season progresses

5) Effort will placed into allowing all volunteers the opportunity to gain experience on each element.

Volunteer requirements:
1) Be adaptable and patient – field work is highly weather dependent and could include long, consecutive days both on and off the water

2) Be enthusiastic and team orientated (both in a living and working environment)

3) A willingness to learn

4) Possess a positive attitude

5) Be polite to, and engage positively with, the local community

6) Be physically fit and able to work in outdoor conditions

7) Speak English

8) Possess basic computer skills (excel, word, etc)

Preferred (but not necessary) skills/traits:
1) Be enrolled in, or have completed, a degree in a related field (Biology, Zoology, Marine Biology, Animal Behaviour, etc)

2) Have small boat experience

3) Have previous (marine) field experience

Enthusiasm and demonstrable commitment to the project will supersede formal qualifications. Volunteers will be expected to work and live as part of a team with shared cooking and cleaning duties. Unfortunately, monetary compensation cannot be provided, and volunteers will be required to pay for their own food and accommodation. However accommodation will be provided in the field research house at a reasonable rate. Volunteers must pay and organize for their own transport to the field site (3 hours North of Auckland). Information, prices and assistance can be provided to successful applicants.

Application process:
Applicants should send a short email cover letter, using ‘volunteer opportunity’ as the subject line, to The email should include an outline of why you would like to work on this project, your availability and relevant experience. Please also attach a brief CV including at least one reference.
Early application is recommended to avoid disappointment. Successful applicants will be notified ASAP.

This is a great opportunity to work in a dynamic environment and gain further experience, whilst working on an important research project. For more detailed information on the project please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your interest.

Catherine Peters
PhD Candidate
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
New Zealand
Tel: + 64 (9) 4140800
Ext: 41196
Mob: + 64 (0) 211058040

PhD position – Reindeer/Caribou Ecology

To start in September 2013 at the earliest. Financial support available for 3 years. In Robert B. Weladji’s lab at Concordia University, Canada. Project includes GPS data analysis and field work in northern Finland (man I’d love to go there…).

Application deadline: 20th March 2013


8 Tips for Seeking Internships in Science

These tips aren’t about finding research internships per se, but hopefully they’ll help you in your search for those valued practical experiences 😉

'Search Bar' post illustration


I HIGHLY suggest (see what I did there?) you take the time to assess which criteria are the most important to you. If you keep them in mind while you’re seeking, it will guide you and save you time, much like an internal lighthouse helping you make sense of the sea of opportunities. Think of the following: are you limited geographically and/or financially? What are your availabilities? Do you have a favourite research topic?


They’re the people who have succeeded in your field of interest. Besides, it’s likely that they, too, have gone through an internship-seeking stage in their life, so that they know about where to search, how to apply, etc. Maybe they even know people who might be interested in free labour, or are themselves interested. PS: this can help build a relationship with your professors – an essential step in professional networking.


If you liked them, there is a good chance you would also like working on that topic yourself. Simply look up authors’ information. This should lead you to the research group they belong to, which, in turn, could direct you to internship opportunities. If not, contact them anyway!


Taken together, they ABOUND with information regarding the scientific discipline they’re concerned with, including internship, scholarship and job listings. If you are interested in ethology research, you can check out the list I have made of animal behaviour related professional associations.


The listings I mentioned earlier are sometimes published through mailing lists. These are great because offers arrive directly in your inbox, without you having to search for them. Neat, right? For example, MARMAM is a mailing list for “researchers and managers working with marine mammals” (to subscribe: link).


Universities hold great research groups along with great scientists – and that’s great. But it could be a good idea to broaden your horizon by considering companies or non-profit organisations. For one thing, you’d be expanding your pool of possibilities. For another, the difference in internship experience could enhance your transferable skills, such as adaptability. If you study biology, you might want to check out websites of natural parks, reserves and wildlife protection organisations (such as LPO in France).


This one might seem self-evident, but it really is not. In my experience, there are ALWAYS unforseen complications. Usually they are of an administrative nature and can range from agreements that must be signed to visa applications which can take months. The more time the better, of course, but I would say beginning at least 6 months prior to your preferred starting date is a good rule of thumb.


Sometimes, getting accepted to be a willing slave can be a competitive process. Don’t let that stop you from applying. Even when requirements are clearly stated and you (think you) don’t fulfill them completely, apply nonetheless! You wouldn’t lose anything. Even if you get rejected, the time you have spent working on your application goes into perfecting your writing skills.

As a final bit of general advice: do send cover letters regardless of whether there is an actual internship offer. I mean, let’s be real, most of the time there won’t be any. It’s up to you to prove your worth and convince people they should totally take you to work with them, even if they didn’t know they needed someone in the first place. I wish you all the good luck in your search!

PS: I would like to thank my friends Tiffany, Amandine and Sophie for providing me with ideas and insights on the subject ^_^

Research Assistant – Ecology and behaviour of Australian sea lions

Australian sea lions. Credit: LI refugee

Australian sea lions. Credit: LI refugee

Seeking volunteer research assistants for a project on endangered Australian sea lions

Project title: Conservation ecology and human disturbance of Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) in Western Australia

Project description: In this study, baseline information on the ecology and behaviour of Australian sea lions in Western Australia are collected. Individual focal follows (behavioural observations) will be conducted to measurethe level of disturbance caused by humans using the beaches simultaneously with these endangered otariid.

Also, a new photo-identification method is being tested and developed to recognize individual Australian sea lions in the field. This method will aid estimating the population size of Australian sea lions and investigating their residency patterns and habitat use on key breeding islands and haul-out locations in Western Australia.

This project is aiming to provide basic knowledge on the sea lions’ colony sizes, movement patterns, temporal and spatial habitat use as well as critical haul-out behaviour that will inform the management of Australian sea lions inhabiting key breeding and non-breeding locations in Western Australia.

Main field sites: Seal Island in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Carnac Island Nature Reserve and potentially Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

Few other haul-out islands off Perth Metropolitan area are visited during monthly boat surveys.

           Field trip dates: April – May 2013, July – August 2013

June and September 2013 will be spent entering and processing data with opportunistic field trips.
Research assistants who can commit for 2 months are strongly preferred. Priority will be given to assistants who can commit for longer periods due to the training required.

Assistant duties: Collecting and recording observational data, both on land and from the boat. Assistants will be helping with data entry and processing, including sorting and processing photos and data on dictaphones.


1. Background knowledge in marine biology, ecology or conservation and experience in field research is a plus.

2. Research assistants should be confident working for long hours on islands with limited facilities and on small boats. Boat license and handling skills would be beneficial.

3. Assistants need to be dedicated to help in this project. During data collection the ability to focus for long periods is required. Assistants are expected to maintain a positive attitude during long hours in the field and towards other team members, also in varying weather conditions.

4. Field trips are very weather dependant and will therefore be organised on short notice (often only 1-2 days prior) and will vary between week and weekend days and may take place on public holidays. Field trips may start early in the morning.

Expenses: This is an unpaid opportunity to gain training and experience in ecological sciences and particularly in marine mammal research. Unfortunately, travel expenses cannot be covered and research assistants are responsible for their own living expenses around Perth/Fremantle. Rides to the study sites can be provided from Fremantle. Research assistants are expected to bring their own lunch and water.

If you are interested in helping out in this project, please send a CV, a brief cover letter highlighting previous experience and relevant qualifications along with contact details of two relevant referees

           Sylvia Osterrieder

PhD Candidate

Ecology & Sustainability Group, School of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria


Research Associate

Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia

Related post

Research Assistant – Dolphin Ecology

This one seems like a great opportunity for “beginner” marine mammalogists/biologists. Details below.

Two research assistants are required to assist with a PhD study investigating common dolphin ecology (Delphinussp.) in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. This PhD project is part of the ongoing research of the New Zealand Common Dolphin Project (NZCDP) and the Coastal-Marine Research Group (C-MRG) at Massey University Albany, Auckland. (


Growing interest in observing and swimming with free-ranging cetaceans has contributed to a rapid growth ofdolphin-based tourism operations. The PhD project aims to examine distribution and habitat use of common dolphins in the East Coast Bay of Plenty and assess the effects of interacting activities on both populations. Part of the study focuses on photo-identification in order to assess common dolphin site fidelity in the Bay of Plenty.


March – September 2013. A minimum commitment of 3 months is required. Priority will be given to candidates who can commit for longer periods.


Tauranga, New Zealand


Analysis of photo-identification data, including assistance with photo sorting, grading, and matching, sighting data entry, maintenance of long-term photo-id catalogue using a MS Access database. Research assistants should be prepared to work long days analysing photographs and matching them with the photo-identification catalogue.

Opportunistically, the candidate will be able to join the team on the field and learn environmental and behavioural data collection for cetaceans. Surveys will be conducted from tourism boats. Surveys will be carried out in the coastal waters of Tauranga. Fieldwork is weather dependent and can vary between weekdays and weekends.

Assistants need to be available FULL-TIME (including WEEKENDS and PUBLIC HOLIDAYS if on the field) and be prepared to work on computer 6-8 hours per day.

This position is suitable in the framework of a degree, with the opportunity to write up a report/thesis for the candidate university/school.


. Be meticulous, reliable, adaptable, hardworking and patient.

. Have a mature and independent attitude towards marine mammal research.

. Speak fluent English

. Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude

. Strong interest in the marine environment and conservation

. Previous experience in photo-ID on small cetaceans will be considered.


. The project is well suited to upper level undergrads, recent grads and graduate students who have some background in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology or related fields.

. Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Access)

Preferred qualifications but not required:

. Field research including photo-identification experience

. Previous experience in survey techniques and especially in marine mammal research

. Prior experience working on small research vessels


This is a volunteer position, so there is unfortunately no monetary compensation or living provisions. However, help can be provided to find accommodation. Assistants will be responsible for travel to Tauranga and their own living expenses.

Applicants should email a letter of interest outlining relevant experience and motivation for participation, as well as a CV and the contacts for referees to Anna Meissner

Early application is recommended as applications will be examined in order of reception.

Kindest regards,
Anna Meissner
Anna M. Meissner
PhD student
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
North Shore City, 0745
Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 9 414 0800 ext 41520
Cell: +64 22 603 6646
Fax: +64 9 443 9790