Student Research Position: Management Effects on Biodiversity and Carbon Outcomes (Summer 2024)

Position Summary

A variety of activities, from timber harvest to recreation, takes place on natural and working lands (including wildlands, working forests, and farmland) in the United States. We are looking for a graduate or undergraduate student to join the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute, supporting our work on a USDA-funded project to evaluate the effects of management activities on biodiversity and carbon outcomes. This project will help to inform the federal government’s definition and management of conserved lands, based on the activities occurring and their likely impacts on key conservation outcomes.

In an earlier phase of this work, we completed a rapid review of synthesis literature to assess the effects of a broad range of management activities on biodiversity and carbon (summarized in this report). In the second phase of work, we will be digging deeper into a few management activities, beginning with timber harvesting and fishing, and performing new quantitative synthesis to fill gaps identified in the first phase of work. The student will support this project through literature review (including searching, screening literature based on defined criteria, and extracting relevant information from selected items), analyzing data, and drafting written products summarizing the project and results.

This student will be under the guidance of Postdoctoral Associate Michelle Talal. The student may also work with faculty and student collaborators at Duke University, University of Vermont, and external collaborators. This is a full-time, paid position for summer 2024. Work will likely be conducted on a hybrid model, using a combination of remote work and regular in-person meetings, but there may be options for primarily remote or in-person work depending on student preference. This position is open to students enrolled at Duke University.

Key tasks

  • Searching academic literature, reports from government agencies and NGOs, and online resources for information and data on specific topics described above
  • Screening search results following a standardized process to identify literature meeting predefined criteria
  • Extracting relevant information from selected literature into a database
  • Reaching out to subject matter experts for feedback and additional information
  • Summarizing and communicating results of research


  • Experience with literature review
  • Experience with data management
  • Excellent oral and written communication
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Familiarity or interest in the concepts of timber harvest, fishing, biodiversity and/or carbon.

To Apply

For any questions and/or to apply, please send your resume or CV and a cover letter to Michelle Talal, . We will begin interviews on Monday, February 12, 2024, on a rolling basis.

The intent of this job description is to provide a representative and level of the types of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title and shall not be construed as a declaration of the total of the specific duties and responsibilities of any particular position. Employees may be directed to perform job-related tasks other than those specifically presented in this description.

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