Applications are now past due for Ekipa Fanihy Field Technicians. Please check back in 2022 for additional opportunities and new hires.

Projected Project Period: Jan 15 (start date) - Dec 20, 2022 (end date), with options to extend into 2023.


Work Description

This one-year position will involve co-leading monthly field expeditions for Ekipa Fanihy. We are hiring two Field Technicians who will join local PhD students at the University of Antananarivo to carry out monthly capture and sampling of Madagascar flying foxes (Pteropus rufus, Eidolon dupreanum, and Rousettus madagascariensis) at roost sites in the District of Moramanga, Madagascar, with possible extensions to field sites elsewhere.

This work supports a long-term field study aimed at deciphering the mechanisms underpinning persistence of potentially zoonotic RNA viruses in wild, Madagascar fruit bats. Bats are reservoirs for several important, highly-virulent zoonoses, including rabies, Hendra and Nipah henipviruses, Ebola and Marburg filoviruses, and SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses. This work also contributes data to population viability analysis and assessment of the conservation status of threatened fruit bats in Madagascar. Please see Research for further details about the major themes of the project.

Field Technicians will be trained in the field in January and February 2022 by project PI, Professor Cara Brook, then supervised by a postdoctoral scholar from the Brook Lab at the University of Chicago, who will be stationed in Antanarivo, Madagascar to provide in-country oversight and guidance. Dr. Brook will be based remotely (in Chicago) but aim to visit on site for 1-2 month segments three times throughout the year.

Field Technicians will spend approximately 70% of their time in the field. During each field mission, technicians will travel with University of Antananarivo PhD students for up to 1-2 days to remote field sites in vehicles with hired drivers sponsored by Institut Pasteur de Madagascar (IPM). Upon arriving at each field site, the team will reside in tents provided by the project for up to two weeks at a time. During field missions, a local cook will be hired to prepare meals, and all expenses (including food) will be funded by the project.

While in the field, the field team will capture bats, collect biological samples (blood, urine, feces, saliva, ectoparasites, wing punches), and undertake basic sample preparation (i.e. centrifugation) and sample storage in liquid nitrogen.

In between field missions (30% of the time), the Field Technicians will live in a shared house in Madagascar’s capitol city of Antananarivo (housing includes a modern kitchen, ample living space, modern bathroom, WiFi, on-site security, and weekly cleaning services). In Antananarivo (‘Tana’), the Field Technicians will work with Ekipa Fanihy to further treat, organize, and conduct basic molecular analyses (DNA/RNA extractions, PCR, etc.) of samples at the laboratory campus of IPM or Mahaliana. Together, Field Technicians will be additionally responsible for restocking, packing, and preparation of field supplies for recurring field missions.

When not in the field, Field Technicians will additionally have opportunities to take part in professional development in the form of remote lab meetings with the Brook Lab at University of Chicago, as well as receive guidance on the graduate school application process if desired. As a rule, Field Technicians will be acknowledged but not included as co-authors on publications arising from this work, though opportunities for independent work may be pursued on a case-by-case basis.

Please visit our News page to read previous reports of the team’s adventures in the field and feel free to reach out to contact former Ekipa Fanihy Field Technicians, Anecia Gentles (at gentles@uga.edu) or Kimberly Rivera (at karivera@uri.edu), with any questions about the job.


Qualifications

We are open to candidates from all backgrounds, but an ideal candidate will possess some combination of the following background traits or experiences:

Bonus traits include:

Candidates who do not meet the above requirements will not be automatically discarded but will need to justify their interest in this position and commitment to catching up on the necessary skills in their application. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Cara Brook at cbrook@uchicago.edu with any questions or concerns.


Compensation, Diversity, and Inclusion

Field Technicians will receive an advance stipend of $1000 prior to arrival to Madagascar, which will support the purchase of any personal gear needed for a year-long appointment in a remote field setting. One round trip flight from the Field Technician’s nearest home airport to and from Madagascar will by purchased by the project, and all camping gear and scientific equipment will be additionally provided but need to be returned to the project at the conclusion of the work.

Once arrived in-country, Field Technicians will receive a monthly living stipend scaled to local exchange rates, which will be more than sufficient to support a comfortable lifestyle throughout the duration of the project. Rent on Tana housing and all in-field food expenses will be paid by the project. Field Technicians will be expected to purchase and cook food using their living stipend while in Tana, and any excess funds from the stipend may be kept for personal use. At the conclusion of 11 months of employment, Field Technicians will receive an additional $1000 bonus to support relocation expenses upon returning home.

We are an equal-opportunity group. Applicants from underrepresented backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and lifestyles are enthusiastically encouraged to apply. We acknowledge that we are unable to provide a salary competitive with full-time US-based employment for Field Technicians at this time. However, we are committed to ensuring that this opportunity does not fall under the “unpaid internship” designation, which has been shown to reinforce socioeconomic inequities. Therefore, if the above compensation description is inadequate for your needs, please inform us of this in your application submission. We will review applications on a case-by-case basis and do our best to making this opportunity accessible for the right applicant, independent of financial constraints!