Funded PhD Position in Cougar Ecology, The University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus [Kelowna, BC, Canada]

Project description: We are recruiting a PhD student for research on the ecology of cougars in southern British Columbia. Cougars are one of the most important large carnivores in this region – interacting with deer, bighorn sheep, and other prey. However, landscape change – from wildfires, forestry, and urbanization – may be altering where and how cougars hunt these prey. These changes may also affect human-wildlife conflict.

The PhD student will examine the links between landscape change and predator-prey interactions using data from GPS-collared cougars. There is ongoing research in this area, incuding several dozen bighorn sheep and mule deer fitted with GPS collars, and arrays of remote cameras. This combination of research projects provides a rare and powerful opportunity to directly measure the spatial and temporal dynamics of species interactions. The student will be expected to tackle theoretical and applied questions related to cougar ecology – making advances in both fundamental research and the science-policy interface.

Minimal qualifications: Completion of a MSc is strongly preferred, as are applicants with publications or manuscripts in review. Applicants must have experience working on field research projects, knowledge of GIS, statistics (e.g., R), and a demonstrated interest in one or more of the following topics: 1) movement ecology; 2) predator-prey ecology; 3) the ecology of human-wildlife conflict. The student must be willing to work in a highly collaborative environment that includes: 1) co-supervision by two (nice) PIs; 2) government biologists; 3) other graduate students working on related research projects 4) people from First Nations, eNGOS, and consumptive and non-consumptive wildlife user groups.

Setting: The student will form a nexus between the research labs Drs. Adam T. Ford  ( and Karen Hodges ( from the Department of Biology, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, who will co-supervise the student. The PhD Student will have the opportunity to engage with faculty members of, and facilities managed by, the Kelowna-based BRAES Institute ( and the Vancouver-based Biodiversity Research Center (

Timeline: The ideal start date would be January 2020, but is negotiable. The formal application deadline for January 2020 admission at UBC Okanagan is June 1, 2019, but candidates will not be considered unless they have been in contact with us first and encouraged by us to complete the formal application.

Application instructions: Please email both AND a single PDF [formatted as: LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME.pdf] that includes: (1) 1-2 page cover letter indicating i) past experiences in field ecology and research, ii) your reasons for wishing to pursue a PhD, and iii) your anticipated fit with the PIs and their labs; (2) a current CV; (3) copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts [unofficial is fine]; (4) contact information for 3 references. For the email, please use the subject header “Cougar PhD Application”.

For full consideration, please submit this package no later than May 7,2019. We reserve the right to consider applications submitted after this time.  We will ask only our top candidate(s) to complete the formal UBC Okanagan application, since that entails additional time and expense.