Ph.D. Research Assistantship in Interdisciplinary Payments for Ecosystem Services Research

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana


The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University is seeking a doctoral research assistant interested in the intersection of social inequalities and payments for ecosystem services to join our program starting fall semester 2018. The position is for three years and is part of an NSF-funded research project by Purdue University, Utah State University, and Brandeis University.


The position provides an annual stipend of $22,850, a tuition waiver, and health insurance. The doctoral student will work under direct supervision of Dr. Zhao Ma at Purdue University and will interact with all project investigators (Drs. Jonathan Bauchet, Laura Zanotti, Claudia Radel, Ricardo Godoy) on a regular basis. Project abstract can be found:


Specific responsibilities include: (1) managing day-to-day communication and relationship between research team and field partner in Bolivia, (2) collecting quantitative data in the field in rural Bolivia (as soon as summer 2018) as part of a randomized control trial (RCT); (3) analyzing this quantitative data; and (4) assisting investigators with other research-related project activities. While the doctoral student will assist the project, he/she will also be encouraged to develop his/her own dissertation research questions to pursue within the context of the broader project.


The ideal candidate has an interest in interdisciplinary approaches and mixed-methods research, and is either familiar with or interested in  human geography, environmental psychology, natural resource decision making, political ecology, and/or other natural resource/conservation social science discipline(s)/field(s). The ideal candidate also has good oral communication and writing skills, attention to detail, and willingness and ability to follow instructions carefully and work independently.


Required qualifications include: (1) Spanish-language competency, particularly in spoken Spanish; (2) GPA 3.2 or equivalent; (3) minimum paper-based TOEFL score of 550 or Internet-based scores of 77 for applicants whose native language is not English; and (4) a master’s degree prior to fall 2018. Strongly preferred qualifications include: (1) experience with survey research; (2) familiarity and/or experience with experimental design; (3) experience with statistical/econometric analyses; and (4) field experience in the rural Global South.


Interested applicants should send a brief letter of interest and a copy of their CV (including GPA and GRE scores) via email to Dr. Zhao Ma prior to formally applying to the Purdue Graduate School. Review of applications will start on January 15, 2018 and will continue until the position is filled. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. Purdue University is an equal opportunity affirmative action employer. For more information, contact Dr. Zhao Ma (; 765-494-1790) or visit


A bit about the location: West Lafayette-Lafayette, Indiana is situated between Indianapolis, Indiana (one-hour south) and Chicago, Illinois (two-hour north), and is home to 174,000 residents. We have a diverse community, good schools, safe neighborhoods, over 40 parks and extensive trail systems, active Farmers Markets, and year-long community festivals and art events.



Zhao Ma

Associate Professor

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Purdue University

195 Marsteller Street West Lafayette, IN 47907-2033


Phone: 765-494-1790

Fax: 765-496-2422