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Graduate Assistantship in Freshwater Mussel Life History & Ecology

Expiration Date: 

The Aquatic Ecosystem Health Laboratory at the University of Georgia invites applications for a Graduate Assistantship in freshwater mussel conservation biology, ecology and genetics, beginning Summer 2020.  Applications for a doctoral dissertation are strongly preferred.

The successful applicant will join a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, Albany State University, the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Institute, and the Flint RiverQuarium using molecular approaches to identify freshwater mussel larvae (glochidia) and juveniles collected from wild caught host fish in the Flint River of southern Georgia. This Is a dynamic opportunity for a motivated graduate student to conduct applied conservation research and work with a diverse team of researchers.  The lower Flint River basin is among the most diverse freshwater mussel assemblages in the United States. 

The research team encourages applicants from groups underrepresented in natural resource science and those dedicated to developing and contributing to a community of respect, inclusiveness, and equality in science and education.


Four years of assistantship funding are available.  The first year of funding is as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) dedicated to a research partnership between UGA, ASU, the Flint RiverQuarium, and the Georgia Water Policy Institute. The remaining three years of funding will come from continued grant opportunities on the project, PI provided start-up assistantships at the University of Georgia, other identified grant opportunities, or the combination of the above.  Students shall receive a competitive Graduate Assistantship stipend and a graduate tuition waiver.       


The student will develop a course of study and research projects under the supervision of Dr. Peter Hazelton at the Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources - leading to peer reviewed publications and dissertation/thesis in the area of freshwater mussel life history, ecology, and conservation biology.    

The first year of the Assistantship will be spent developing and participating in multi-institutional research on identification of larval and juvenile freshwater mussels using genetic markers.  The student will be stationed in Albany, GA for the summer of 2021 to coordinate this effort on-site.  As part of this project, the student will be responsible for:

  • Developing field and laboratory protocols for collection of host fish and isolating early lifestage freshwater mussels for genetic analysis
  • Coordinating and overseeing training and day-to-day collection of samples at the Flint RiverQuarium and Albany State University
  • Coordinating meetings and communication between research partners at partner institutions (UGA, ASU, RiverQuarium, GA Water Planning & Policy Institute)
  • Assisting with the analysis of meta-barcoding genetic data to identify mussel species
  • Analysis of data and development of reports, publications, and subsequent grant applications 

Required qualifications:

Preferred candidates (PhD) will have completed a MSc in Fisheries, Wildlife, Ecology, Conservation Genetics (or other related field) by the start date of May or June 2021.  Relevant work experience may be considered in lieu of a previous graduate degree for competitive candidates interested in an MSc or PhD.  Applicants must demonstrate interest in coordination of research teams as well as research competency, and should have demonstrated experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Large river fisheries and/or freshwater mussel sampling, ecology 
  • Freshwater mussel life history research
  • Conservation genetics approaches including DNA extraction, meta-barcoding sequencing & analysis
  • Ability to conduct research as part of a multi-disciplinary team with partners from varying backgrounds

To Apply:

Please email Dr. Peter Hazelton at with the subject: “Flint River Mussel Opportunity”, and the following as 1 combined pdf attachment: (i) Brief cover letter describing your research interests, professional/research experience and career goals; (ii) Resume/CV including contact information for 3 professional references.  Following review of applicants and interviews, competitive applicants will be asked to submit an official application the University of Georgia Graduate School.  

Domestic (U.S.) applicants should submit preliminary materials to Dr. Hazelton by February 1, 2021 and be prepared to submit a graduate admissions application by April 1, 2021.

International applicants should submit preliminary materials to Dr. Hazelton by January 15, 2021 and be prepared to submit a graduate admissions application by February 15, 2021.

Please direct inquiries to Dr. Peter Hazelton at 

The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, genetic information, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or protected veteran status.