jeudi 21 janvier 2010

Field Assistants for Gelada Monkey Research in the Ethiopian Highlands

Hiring Organization:
Dr. Peter Fashing & Dr. Nga Nguyen (California State University Fullerton)

Date Posted:

Position Description:
TWO field assistants are needed for a study of the behavior, ecology, endocrinology, and conservation of wild gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) at a remote, semi-permanent field site in north-central Ethiopia called Guassa. The study is being carried out by Dr. Peter Fashing and Dr. Nga Nguyen. The field assistants 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 and collecting fecal samples from individually-recognized geladas (for later laboratory steroid hormone analysis in the USA), (c) recording GPS readings of gelada ranging locations, as well as (d) conducting vegetation monitoring and (e) walking census transects. The two field assistants will share a camp and research responsibilities while at Guassa.

The study area consists of 111km2 of hilly Afro-alpine grassland situated at 3,200-3,600 meters above sea level along the eastern edge of the Ethiopian highlands and affords spectacular views out over the Great Rift Valley nearly a mile below. A number of animals endemic to the Ethiopian highlands occur at Guassa including geladas and the critically endangered Ethiopian wolf, Canis simensis, the world’s rarest canid. The gelada population at Guassa has been studied on a near daily basis since 2006 and most individuals in the main 220-member study band are habituated to observers at distances of 2-5 meters.

For more information on the project, please see the following website:

To see photos of the field site, please see the following link:

Recent field assistants have gone on to pursue graduate studies (Master’s or Ph.D. in Anthropology or Biology) at Penn State University, Stony Brook University, and Cal State Fullerton. For profiles of recent GGRP field assistants and their subsequent graduate school pursuits, please see the following link:

Applicants should have a B.S. or B.A in Biology, Biological Anthropology, or a related field. Good physical fitness and a willingness to walk long distances (6-12 km) each day are essential to working at Guassa where the terrain is hilly, the air thin (due to the high elevation), and the geladas wide-ranging. Experience with winter camping and life in cold climates preferred since the successful applicants will be living in (spacious) tents at a location where nights are sometimes below freezing (as low as 19ºF though 33-36ºF is more typical) and days are often chilly (45-60ºF) and windy (10-60 km/hr) as well. Our campsite is situated on an isolated patch of pristine Afroalpine grassland far from human habitation and applicants must be highly self-sufficient (the nearest town, Mehal Meda, is 22 kilometers away from camp, we do not own a vehicle, and contact with other English-speakers is rare). Field assistants will live in a semi-permanent campsite with 2 Ethiopian staff with limited English language skills. 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).


Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Research assistants will be provided with basic accommodation, food and other basic supplies while at the field site. However, applicants must pay their own international travel to Addis Ababa ( $1,500-$2,000 from the USA) and are responsible for any additional expenses incurred while traveling in Ethiopia, including travel to and from the field site and Addis every few months (to buy supplies, see a movie, etc.). Buses to Addis (300 km from Guassa or 10 bumpy hours travel) are inexpensive ($10 each way) and run almost daily from Mehal Meda. Camp is located a few miles walk from the road where you can catch the bus after a one or more hour wait. Luxury food items such as chocolates, cookies and canned tuna may be purchased in Addis at the volunteer's expense. Our semi-permanent camp is remote but comfortable, with large walk-in tents, beds, solar electricity to power a small freezer, lights and a laptop computer, mobile telephone service for receiving calls from abroad and making calls within Ethiopia, satellite telephone for emergencies, and email by satellite modem 2-3 times a week. Travel health insurance is strongly recommended; volunteers are required to acquire the necessary vaccinations prior to entry to Ethiopia. Volunteers are required to provide their own winter/alpine condition clothing, footwear and sleeping bag. Advice about what items are necessary for life at Guassa can be provided upon request.

Term of Appointment:
13 months starting mid-to-late May 2010. Because the training process requires 2-4 months, assistants must be willing to work for a minimum of 13-months. We work in teams of twos and each researcher typically spends two to three days in the field with the geladas and one day at camp helping with camp chores and data entry and checking (we download and proof each day’s data onto the camp computer at the end of each field day). We expect the successful applicant to be a keen observer and a diligent and conscientious student of animal behavior. Volunteers must be willing to work in a small team setting and have demonstrated a willingness to follow instructions/protocols closely in the past. We expect detailed updates from the field at least twice each week by email to keep us updated on conditions/progress in the field.

Application Deadline:
Positions will remain open until filled.

To apply, please submit (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, (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”. Please email the following materials to Dr. Peter Fashing at

Contact Information:
Peter Fashing
Department of Anthropology, California State University Fullerton
Fullerton, CA 92834

Telephone Number:


E-mail Address: