Summer Student Position, Ecosystem Services

We are looking for a Duke University student to join the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute to conduct an assessment of how field surveyed biodiversity data could support implementation of or improvement of biodiversity policy, including policies such as biodiversity offsets, eco-certification, and infrastructure planning. This research would be part of a larger Duke project run by Martin Brooke at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering (Computer Science and Electrical Engineering) that will be submitted for the Rainforest XPRIZE that aims to develop drone-based biodiversity surveys that can support improved biodiversity protection.

This student will be reporting to Ecosystem Services Program director Lydia Olander, with guidance from policy associate Sara Mason, professor Martin Brooke (Pratt) and Stuart Pimm (Nicholas School).  The student may also work with other Duke faculty and external experts.  While flexible, this can be a full-time (40 hours/week) paid position for summer 2020 with a possibility of work extension into the fall semester.

Tasks may include:

  • Literature review of scientific papers, gray literature, legal and policy documents
  • Memo and report writing
  • Briefing project advisors
  • Interviewing policy experts
  • Brainstorming with faculty advisors about how new drone-based biodiversity data could be used to implement policy
  • Helping to draft a white paper on the use of biodiversity data for policy implementation that would support the Duke Rainforest XPRIZE process


  • Familiarity with and interest in biodiversity policy (biodiversity offsets, eco-certification, and infrastructure planning)
  • Understanding of ecology and environmental policy
  • Ability to read and summarize scientific and gray literature
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Creativity and willingness to explore different avenues of research

To Apply

This position is open to students enrolled at Duke University who are currently residing in North Carolina, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. Undergraduate applicants must reside in North Carolina.

To apply, please send your resume or CV and a cover letter to Donna Brown,  

We will interview on a rolling basis, with work starting in June 2020.


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

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Duke also makes good faith efforts to recruit, hire, and promote qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.