Field Assistant/Camp Manager at a primate behavior field site in the Ethiopian highlands

ONE field assistant / camp manager needed for The University of Michigan Gelada Research Project, a study of the behavior, communication, endocrinology, and conservation of wild geladas (Theropithecus gelada) – a close relative of baboons. All research is conducted at a remote field station located in the Simien Mountains National Park of Ethiopia. Directors of the project are Dr. Thore Bergman and Dr. Jacinta Beehner, faculty at the University of Michigan. The successful candidate will be responsible for (a) collecting basic demographic and reproductive data as part of routine monitoring of the well-habituated study population, (b) conducting focal animal samples, taking growth photos, and collecting fecal and urine samples from individually-recognized geladas (for later laboratory steroid hormone analysis in the USA), (c) downloading the data each day to a computer and sending this data back to the U.S. on a monthly basis, and (d) maintaining camp equipment and managing personnel. The gelada population has been studied on a near-daily basis since 2006, and we currently recognize approximately 250 individuals (that you will learn to identify and love).

Our field station is a stone hut located deep within the national park that is shared with 0-3 American graduate students (depending on the time of year). The project employs 3 Ethiopian field assistants, and 1-2 Ethiopian staff (for cooking and cleaning) who live down the path from the project hut in the Park outpost that consists of 4-5 rangers and their families. The hut has 3 bedrooms (sleeps 6 comfortably), a full kitchen set-up (including a propane-powered freezer, and a propane-powered stove and oven), a propane-powered hot shower, solar panels to power computers and lights, a generator (for electricity during the rainy season), a satellite telephone and modem (for email), and a Toyota 4×4 pickup truck. There is no running water at the fieldsite, but fresh water is brought to the camp daily from a nearby spring (and filtered at the camp). For more information on the project directors, the project publications, and some photos of the fieldsite, please see the project website:

Qualified applicants will have a B.S. or B.A in Biology, Zoology, Biological Anthropology, or a related field. Prior travel and/or field experience in Africa or mountainous regions of Asia or South America preferred. Applicants must be fluent in English and eager to learn Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia). Good physical fitness is absolutely essential – the terrain is hilly, the air is thin (due to the high elevation), and the temperatures can get quite cold during the rainy season (nights are sometimes below freezing and days can be cold). Good organizational skills and experience with basic database management a must. Must be able to drive a stick-shift 4×4 truck over rough terrain. Experience with leadership also a plus – as you will be working closely with several graduate students and field assistants.

Salary/funding: This is a volunteer position, so there is no salary. However, round-trip airfare and living support will be provided for the volunteer (visa expenses, travel, meals, lodging). Additionally, volunteer will be provided with basic accommodation, food and other basic supplies while at the field site. The volunteer is responsible for any additional expenses incurred while traveling in Ethiopia. The project will provide emergency travel health insurance, but the volunteer is required to have basic health care coverage and must acquire the necessary vaccinations prior to entry to Ethiopia. The volunteer will need to provide their own winter/alpine condition clothing, footwear and sleeping bag. Advice about what items are necessary for life in the Simien Mountains will be provided to the successful applicant.

Appointment: 1-2 years beginning early-May, 2016. Because the training process requires 2-4 months (mostly learning the animals), the successful applicant must be willing to work for a minimum of 1 year. Applicants committing to a longer period will receive one round-trip flight to their home country halfway through their internship. Note that 4 (out of 5) previous camp managers have found this experience quite rewarding and have signed on to a second year. Ethiopia is a safe and extremely friendly country to live in.

Deadline: Position will remain open until filled. Earlier applications will receive priority. We hope to fill the position before the end of February, 2016.

Application: Please email the following materials to Dr. Jacinta Beehner at (1) a letter of interest stating how and why this position satisfies your interest and future career goals, explaining your suitability for this project, plus a time frame during which you are available to work (when you are free to travel), (2) a CV or resume detailing relevant experience, (3) a summary of college courses taken and the grades received, to be followed by an official transcript, and (4) contact information for at least two references, preferably at least one academic reference as well as one person who has worked closely with you or who has closely supervised your work. The subject heading of the email message should read: “Application for field research position”.