Date Posted: 2017-07-05
Position Description: We are seeking a conscientious and motivated student to embark on a two-year M.Sc. program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Lethbridge, starting in January 2018, under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Baptiste Leca.
The M.Sc. student will test the hypothesis that object play is a developmental precursor to flexible tool use. To do so, the student will examine the mechanistic similarities and differences between object play and tool use in primates. More specifically, the research project will consist of exploring the motivational bases of object-oriented play activities and tool-assisted actions by comparing their biomechanical and sequential structures in Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and human children, at different stages of development.
As part of the M.Sc. program, the successful applicant will conduct observations and field experiments in free-ranging long-tailed macaques in Indonesia (Bali) and human children in Canada. The M.Sc. student may also use a large existing video-recorded data set on object play, extractive foraging, and tool use behaviors in Balinese long-tailed macaques, already collected by our research team members.
During the M.Sc. program, the successful applicant will benefit from already established collaborations between Dr. Leca and other researchers in various fields (e.g., Neuroscience, Kinesiology, Anthropology, and Ecology).
Qualifications/Experience: Required – Applicants should:
have, or be working toward (by the end of December 2017) a Bachelor’s degree in biology, ecology, psychology, or anthropology, with an emphasis on animal behavior (e.g., ethology, behavioral ecology, cognitive science);
have excellent GPA and research potential to be eligible and competitive for internal awards, scholarships, fellowships offered by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Lethbridge;
have a previous field research experience collecting behavioral data in animals/humans;
have a detailed knowledge of, and hands-on experience in, behavioral data collection methods (e.g., focal and scan sampling techniques);
show a positive attitude in the face of long and tiring field work days and unforeseen challenges;
be physically fit to stand and walk several hours a day (including under a hot and humid weather), while collecting behavioral data;
feel comfortable walking around a large group of well-habituated monkeys, which may (occasionally) include getting a monkey jumping on the observer’s shoulders;
be mentally strong and emotionally mature to spend several months living under basic conditions and being far away from family and friends;
be able to communicate openly with our team about any problems that may arise;
possess strong social skills, which include enjoying working and communicating easily within a small team, sharing knowledge, and being teachable.
Desirable – Priority will be given to applicants with:
good observation skills including patience, persistence and attention to detail;
a previous experience using handheld data loggers in the field (e.g., field computer/psion and video camera);
a previous experience with behavioral data scoring softwares (particularly The Observer XT by Noldus);
a previous experience with (or at least an interest in) Kinesiology methods;
a previous experience traveling and living in foreign countries and cultures;
fluency in English.
The successful applicant will be selected on the basis of his/her eligibility and high probability to be fully funded by an internal funding package offered by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Lethbridge. Indeed, provided excellent GPA and research potential, the future M.Sc. student will be competitive for a tuition award (covering M.Sc. tuition fees and other administrative fees at the University of Lethbridge), a fellowship award, a teaching assistantship, and a Dean’s scholarship. This package may be supplemented by a graduate research assistantship from the M.Sc. supervisor, if necessary.
Field research expenses in Bali will be fully covered by providing the successful applicant with an adequate financial support from the supervisor’s research grants. This support will include one round-trip international airfare (from Calgary), administrative expenses incurred while in the field (e.g., visa, long-term stay permit, research permit), and a monthly research stipend (covering basic local transport, accommodation, and food expenses).
Term of Appointment: The two-year M.Sc. program at the University of Lethbridge will run from early January 2018 to December 2019.
Field data collection in Bali, Indonesia: from May to August 2018 (4 months).
Application Deadline: Review of applications to join our lab will begin immediately.
Short-listed applicants will be contacted to schedule phone interviews as soon as possible.
Due to the lengthy administrative procedure to apply for field research permits, we expect to select the successful candidate by mid-September 2017.
The deadline to apply for the M.Sc. program at the University of Lethbridge is October 1, 2017.
Comments: Please submit the following documentation in ONE single PDF file saved with your last and first name in the file name (e.g., “Smith_John.pdf”):
A detailed cover letter documenting your education, research experience, qualifications (among those listed above), and interest in this position, with an emphasis on your motivation to pursue your M.Sc. research on the topic described above. Please also confirm that you will be available to start the M.Sc. program in early January 2018;
Your detailed CV, including all relevant degrees, diplomas, certificates, coursework, field courses, field experience, and possible publications/conference presentations;
A copy of your official undergraduate and graduate (B.Sc. or B.A.) academic transcripts, with the detailed list of courses taken and the corresponding grades, as well as your cumulative GPA (or GPA-equivalent);
Contact information (including email addresses) of TWO academic or professional references who can attest to your qualifications, including ONE reference who supervised you IN THE FIELD.
Applications that contain more than one file will not be considered.
Your application should be emailed to Dr. Noëlle Gunst (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, and we shall get back to you as soon as possible, via email.
Contact Information: Jean-Baptiste Leca, PhD
Noëlle Gunst, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of Lethbridge
E-mail Address: email@example.com