Undergraduate Students

The Avian Science Center fosters mentoring at all levels of undergraduate education. We provide several opportunities for undergraduate student to gain experience in using avian species to guide natural resource conservation. We have a multitude of ongoing professional research projects in which students can volunteer or work seasonally. In addition, we assist students in developing and conducting their own research. All opportunities can be used to acquire college course credits. Openings for these opportunities are advertised on the Avian Science Center web site and other assorted web pages.

Undergraduate Research Project Opportunity: Estimating Sagebrush-Grassland Songbird Demographics

Position Description:

The Avian Science Center (ASC) is seeking a highly motivated Wildlife Biology freshman, sophomore, or junior undergraduate student for an opportunity to develop and execute an independent thesis project within a larger, ongoing sagebrush-grassland songbird study. The overall goal of the thesis project is to assist in validating novel field protocols and statistical methods to estimate nest abundance/density. The student would be mentored on their thesis research by Dr. Victoria Dreitz and work in close collaboration with ASC graduate students, Kayla Ruth and Kaitlyn Reintsma. Credits for thesis research may follow the requirements and qualifications of either the Wildlife Biology Program  or the Davidson Honor’s College (pdf).

The anticipated start date is spring 2018, at which time the student will conduct background research, determine the most effective methodologies, and defend their thesis proposal. In summer 2018 the student will collect data simultaneously for their research and the larger, ongoing sagebrush-prairie songbird study near Roundup, Montana. The student will become proficient with numerous field skills including identifying grassland and sagebrush songbirds by sight and sound; identifying songbird nests and eggs; navigating with GPS units; entering and proofing data; and communicating with project collaborators and other researchers in the area. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the student will analyze their data, write and defend their thesis, present their work to a public audience, and initiate authoring a scientific publication.

Interests and Skills Recommended:

Completing a highly demanding undergraduate thesis project requires a self-motivated, dedicated and responsible student. Qualifications for independent research in the Wildlife Biology require GPA ≥ 3.0. This project will require a basic understanding and interest in statistics, good organizational skills, an open mind, the ability to work independently and within a team, and a willingness to travel and work an unusual and variable schedule.


During the data collection (summer 2018), the student will be paid $1,600 – $2,100 per month and housing is provided. During the academic year there will be opportunities to earn school credits and/or apply this work to honors requirements.  In addition, students will be highly encouraged to apply for undergraduate research funding opportunities to support their thesis research.

How to apply: 

Applications will be reviewed as they are received until a candidate is chosen. Email a cover letter, resume/CV, unofficial transcripts, and contact information for three references to the Avian Science Center at asc@umontana.edu. Only applications with all attachments as a single PDF or Microsoft Word document will be accepted. Please write “Undergraduate Research Project” in subject line. 

Undergraduate Research Project Opportunity: Research Experiment

The Avian Science Center is looking for ambitious and enthusiastic students or professionals to volunteer for a research experiment examining survey methods.  We are seeking individuals with little to no experience with bird identification.  Volunteers will identify vocalizations of local grassland songbird species either alone or in pairs. Surveys will be conducted in the Avian Science Center office (Forestry 303). This is a fun and valuable opportunity to learn more about grassland bird identification and contribute to avian research! If interested in participating, please contact the Avian Science Center at kaitlyn.strickfaden@umontana.edu