Position Announcement: PhD student

The Labs of Drs Francesco Ferretti and Yan Jiao in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech seek a motivated candidate for a Ph.D. position starting in August 2024. 

We are looking for an energetic, entrepreneurial, and creative student who would like to conduct research in fisheries science, marine conservation, and ecology, using an interdisciplinary and quantitative approach. The students will have the opportunity to join a growing lab addressing issues of ocean sustainability, marine biodiversity conservation and fisheries science and management. 

The candidate is expected to develop innovative research projects involving data science, stock assessment and statistical modeling, computational and research synthesis approaches, as well as fieldwork components, to advance the field of fisheries science, ecology and conservation.

The student will be involved in a multiannual trawls survey conducted by Virginia Tech in the Delaware Bay surrounding coastal sectors, targeted to improve the management of Horseshoe crabs and associated bycatch species, including commercially exploited stocks and sharks and rays. 


The successful candidate will have a MSc preferentially in any of the following fields: biology, ecology, natural resource management and conservation, oceanography, and fisheries science. Statistics, mathematics, computer science, or engineering students who have applied their research to fisheries and ecological studies are also welcome to apply. 

Preferred students would have high computer literacy, programming skills, and experience with collection and analysis of fisheries data, especially if applied to stock assessment, or a strong motivation to develop these skills. In particular, assets are:

  • fluency in either R, Python, or similar programming languages;
  • capability to interact with relational databases, servers, and cluster computing facilities; 
  • familiarity with spatio-temporal analytical approaches and software, habitat modeling, fisheries stock assessment models, statistical modeling in frequentist and Bayesian frameworks applied to ecological data; 
  • experience with data science and visualization approaches and tools, machine learning, and computer vision;
  • experience with marine fisheries science, management, and conservation issues. 

The expected starting date is August 2024, and the review of applications will begin immediately. The position includes funding for stipend and research activities. Priority will be given to students competitive for external funding. Selected applicant(s) is/are expected to apply for external funding, participate in regular lab meetings, attend departmental seminars, publish results in peer-reviewed journals, and present their research in national and international meetings. 

Applicants should email Dr. Francesco Ferretti (ferretti@vt.edu) and include: (i) a cover letter describing research interests, career goals, relevant past experiences, and fit for the position (ii) an updated CV, and (iii) undergraduate and graduate transcript(s) and GRE scores; and (iv) full contact information for at least 3 professional references.

Leave a Comment