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Research Assistant positions available

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh is seeking several Research Assistants to contribute to analysis of acoustic biodiversity data sets. Our lab’s research focuses on understanding how human alteration of natural habitat impacts species abundance and diversity, motivated strongly by an interest in informing conservation and habitat management.

As part of this work, our group is deeply involved in the development and application of automated acoustic recording methods for studying biodiversity, particularly birds, at large spatial scales. Among other activities, we develop open source software and machine learning models for the automated identification of bird song and, with our networks of collaborators, deploy several thousand automated acoustic recorders each field season throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

The main responsibilities of these positions will include several or all of

  • Assisting in the development and/or testing of acoustic recorder hardware
  • Managing large acoustic data sets collected by the lab
  • Creating and/or applying machine learning models to analyze data on local, cluster, and cloud hardware
  • Annotating audio for species presence
  • Using statistical modes to estimate occupancy and abundance of focal species
  • Interpreting the results of these analyses in manuscripts and other communications

The particular responsibilities of each Research Assistant will depend on their background and skills, as well as the needs of the overall team. In general, we will be looking for candidates with more than one of the following skills

  • Programming experience (Python preferred, other languages acceptable)
  • Demonstrated interest or experience in training machine learning models
  • Experience with bioacoustics
  • Experience with field work
  • Ability to bird by ear in Eastern temperate forests
  • Record of first-authored peer-reviewed publications

The Research Assistants will be supported by a combination of funding sources, including the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

We currently have openings for Research Assistants at two different levels. The Research II positions are appropriate for recent graduates with a Bachelor’s degree and less than two years of work experience. The Research III positions are appropriate for candidates with a Master’s degree and several years of work experience. The Research III candidates will be expected to take a more independent role managing and completing research projects.

We are a highly collaborative and interactive lab group in which multiple lab members work together on all of our research projects. We make a specific point to involve all of our lab […]

2021-10-08T10:34:20-04:00September 23rd, 2021|

PhD position in conservation and bioacoustics

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking a Ph.D. student to join our lab in the Summer or Fall of 2022 (applications accepted in Fall 2021). Research in our lab broadly seeks to understand how human alteration of natural habitat impacts species abundance and diversity at large spatial scales. Our ongoing projects mainly use bioacoustic methods to investigate the conservation and spatial ecology of temperate bird communities.

The research focus for this student will be somewhat flexible, but will likely focus in part on field surveys of Pennsylvania breeding birds conducted using automated acoustic recorders, with recordings analyzed using our lab’s machine learning classifiers and advanced statistical models. Students with a background in field work involving birds, acoustic surveys, statistics, and/or machine learning models are particularly encouraged to apply.

Our department provides competitive financial support for graduate students that includes a stipend, full tuition remission, health insurance, and free access to public transportation (http://www.biology.pitt.edu/graduate/financial-support). We anticipate that the incoming student will receive a five year support package that includes up to 4 years of research funding.

Although applications are not due until December, interested applicants should contact Dr. Kitzes during the fall term. Please send an email ([email protected]) that includes a few paragraphs describing the type of work that you are hoping to do for your dissertation and why you are interested in our lab in particular, as well as your CV.

Please see our lab website (http://kitzeslab.org) and the website of the Department of Biological Sciences (http://www.biology.pitt.edu/) for more information about our lab, the department, other faculty and students, the university, and the city of Pittsburgh.

2021-09-03T11:42:14-04:00July 24th, 2021|

AudioMoth performance tests

Our lab has purchased nearly 3,000 AudioMoth acoustic recorders in the past few years. Overall, we have found their performance for measuring species occupancy in the field to be roughly on par with both a human listener and other commercial recorders that we have used. For those who are interested in a more detailed look at the performance of these recorders, Sam Lapp has recently written up some results from his quantitative AudioMoth performance testing, including on and off-axis frequency response, the effects of different housing options, and the effects of attaching the recorders to trees.

2021-01-13T09:06:50-04:00January 13th, 2021|

Bioacoustics in the Washington Post

Justin was quoted in a recent article in the Washington Post focused on the use of bioacoustic techniques for surveying bird populations. In addition to the quotes below, the article highlights our ongoing work on individual bird localization.

“I’m well aware that you can talk to any scientist from any time period, and they’ll say we’re right on the cusp of something extraordinary,’’ said Justin Kitzes, an assistant professor and a computational ecologist with the University of Pittsburgh. “But there’s a convergence of a lot of things right now that in the next 20 years are going to be very important.’’

“These data will be the museum specimens of our century,’’ Kitzes said. “These are things we should be archiving. Future generations will return to them, with better methods, better equipment, new questions we can’t even think of today. They are going to be very thankful to us for preserving this.’’

2020-01-15T10:05:06-04:00January 15th, 2020|

New NSF IIBR Grant

Our lab is very happy to announce that we were recently awarded a $643,272 grant under the new NSF Infrastructure Innovation in Biological Research (IIBR) solicitation! The project will focus on developing an inexpensive, open source hardware and software platform for performing spatial localization of temperate bird songs. The idea is that, by spatially separating songs, we will be able to spatially segregate individual birds in order to measure species abundance, in addition to presence and absence, using acoustic recorders. We will also be starting a new collaborative educational project, in concert with Dr. Sam Donovan and the QUBES project, to develop and share a lab curriculum that teaches machine learning to undergraduate students. The award abstract provides more details on the project.

2019-10-16T11:30:11-04:00October 16th, 2019|

Departmental Postdoc fellowship open for applications

Our department is once again seeking a PEEP fellow for this upcoming year – this is a competitive postdoctoral fellowship open to candidates whose research overlaps with at least two of the ecology and evolution faculty at the university. If you are interested in applying for this opportunity, please feel free to contact Justin in advance to discuss potential ideas. The full announcement is below:

The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ecology and Evolution, broadly defined (e.g., disease ecology, microbiome, behavioral ecology, species interactions, phylogenomics, population genetics, community and eco-evo dynamics). The goal of the EE Postdoctoral Fellowship is to broaden expertise and to stimulate synergistic interactions between faculty interested in the area of Ecology and Evolution.The successful candidate will be expected to conduct original independent research that bridges the interests of two or more faculty members in the Ecology and Evolution sections of Biological Sciences and to lead a graduate seminar in their area of expertise each year.

Qualified candidates are required to submit a single, coherent 2-year research proposal to be completed under the guidance of two or more members of the ecology and evolution faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences (https://www.biology.pitt.edu/research/ecology). The position does not include research funds so the extent of contributions from the faculty sponsors should be addressed in the proposal. We strongly encourage candidates to contact appropriate faculty sponsors before applying. Preference will be given to candidates with novel ideas, demonstrated research ability, and strong communication skills. Along with the research proposal, applications must include a CV, a short description of research accomplishments and a description of how your research, teaching or service demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The applicant must arrange for two recommendation letters from non-UPitt faculty, and letters from the UPitt faculty sponsors to be emailed to the address below. The expected salary will be $48,000 per year with benefits. Application deadline is April 1, with position start date June-August 2019 (specific date negotiable).
Application materials should be emailed to: Dr. Tia-Lynn Ashman at: [email protected] The subject line should read “EE Post-doctoral application”.

2019-02-24T12:34:59-04:00February 24th, 2019|

Welcome Trieste!

We are happy to welcome Trieste Devlin as our new Field Assistant. Trieste has a B.S. in Robotics Engineering from UC Santa Cruz, and will be working on a variety of projects related to our acoustic recorder hardware development as well as to our field deployments.

2019-02-11T11:23:42-04:00February 11th, 2019|

AI for Earth Innovation Award

We are happy to announce that the Kitzes Lab has been awarded an AI for Earth Innovation award from Microsoft and National Geographic. Our proposal was one of 11 funded projects, which each receive financial support as well as Microsoft Azure credits for cloud computing work. This funding will specifically support our development of our open source acoustic classification software, OpenSoundscape, as well as our efforts to release 600 classifiers for North American bird species by the end of the year. Read more from National Geographic, Microsoft, and Pitt.

2018-12-22T20:21:57-04:00December 12th, 2018|

Field Assistant position available

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biological Sciences (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking a Field Assistant to assist with research studying the spatial distributions of bird and bat species at landscape scales.

The Kitzes Lab is currently placing autonomous acoustic recorders throughout landscapes in western Pennsylvania to record ambient sounds. This data is then processed to identify the species present near each recorder and their relative activity levels, which we analyze to determine the factors that influence where organisms are found and why.

The primary responsibilities of the field assistant will include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting graduate students in the deployment and retrieval of acoustic recording devices in the field, which are used to study spatial distributions of bird and bat species
  • Assisting in processing the data collected by these recorders.

Training will be provided, and applicants may have the ability to expand tasks to include greater responsibilities.

This position is available initially for one year, with an extension for a second year available pending a positive first-year review. We may be able to provide flexibility in work hours and location, if requested by applicants.

For more information, and to apply for the position, please visit https://www.pittsource.com/postings/175646.

2018-11-12T13:34:47-04:00November 12th, 2018|