Lab info

Hiring a new Ph.D student for Fall 2024!

Stop wavering and apply now!

The Kelley Behavioral Complexity Lab is recruiting a highly motivated, extremely hard-working, and creative Ph.D. student to work on plant-animal interactions, with a particular focus on how bird behavior alters seed dispersal, the importance of abiotic factors on temporal and spatial variation in seed dispersal, and resilience in the novel ecosystem of Hawaii.

Successful applicants will be expected to be part of a larger team collecting data in Hawaii (Oahu) on seed dispersal. There will be flexibility for students to develop particular foci for their dissertation. We anticipate that two chapters will be focused on questions that are part of a new SERDP grant, while the other two chapters will be developed by the student. Students will be collecting data in Hawaii for >4 months per year for the first few years, and the remainder of their time, they will be in Laramie, WY (location of the University of Wyoming).  

Successful applicants will be expected to participate in a team environment, present results at professional conferences, publish results in a timely manner in peer-reviewed scientific outlets, and assist with preparation of grant proposals. The student will be funded off of a Research Assistantship for their first 3.5 years and for the remaining time of their Ph.D.s, they will be funded off of a combination of Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships. Assistantships include a living wage, tuition, and benefits. The student will collaborate with a larger team, including a team of seven other graduate students (split across the Tarwater and Kelley labs), including another Ph.D. student in the Tarwater Lab working on this project

Qualifications: Candidates must possess a B.S. or M.S. degree in biology, wildlife ecology, natural resource management, or a related field. Ideal candidates would have 2+ years of field experience, including experience in the mist-netting of passerines and plant identification, and ideally some experience with large data sets and statistical programming in R, and experience in writing manuscripts. We strongly encourage underrepresented students in STEM and international students to apply.

The University of Wyoming has a new, exciting initiative, WYOBIRD, that students would have an opportunity to take part in. This initiative includes local outreach opportunities, invited seminar speakers, hands-on experience with birds and mentoring of students, collaborations with ornithologists locally and regionally, and workshops.  

Contact:  Dr. J. Patrick Kelley ( Please submit your application to . Include in your application a single document that includes a cover letter outlining experience and specific research interests, curriculum vitae, transcripts, and contact information for three references familiar with your experience and qualifications. If an international student, please include your TOEFL scores. Review of applications will begin October 23rd and continue until filled. Successful applicants would start in July/August 2024. 

Diversity Statement: Diversity in knowledge, experiences and identities in research groups increases productivity and creativity. The Behavioral Complexity Lab is strongly committed to increasing the representation of traditionally excluded groups and fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive research environment at the University of Wyoming. The University of Wyoming values a wide range of cultural perspectives, experiences, and opinions that are important for educational excellence and critical for preparing students for future success.

The University of Wyoming is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law and University policy.  Please see We conduct background investigations for all final candidates being considered for employment.  Offers of employment are contingent upon the completion of the background check.

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