Be a Blueprint Earth Field Volunteer!
As a volunteer researcher, you will travel to the Mojave Desert as part of a team to catalog a portion of our fieldwork study area, which measures 1 km^2 and can only be accessed using dirt roads. All of our research is hands-on and you will work side by side with leading scientists in a variety of fields.
Training will be provided before traveling to the Mojave Desert to conduct research, but existing coursework in science is highly desirable. Graduate research opportunities are also available.
1. Download the Application (click here)
Q - Is this a full-time, or a part-time position?
A - Volunteer Researchers are not full-time and are not part-time. The position is for students who want to conduct research as a volunteer.
Q - Is the research paid?
A - Currently, our funding will only cover housing and food at the Zyzzx Desert Studies Center, as well as coordination of transportation to the field. We are seeking funding so that in in the future we may be able to offer a stipend, but currently there is no monetary compensation.
Q - What exactly do research volunteers do?
A - Our research in the Mojave Desert spans Biology, Geology, Hydrology, Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science, and more. We also have opportunities in GIS, Marketing, Grant Writing, Fundraising, Educational Outreach, Engineering, and Systems Science.
We have divided our 1 km^2 field area into 10 smaller grids each measuring 100 m x 100 m. Each grid is further divided so that each discipline can catalog what they find in the grid using a statistical sampling method. Each discipline varies and we have developed fieldwork procedures that all student researchers receive. For example, a biology vegetation transect will include 100 randomly selected 1m x 1m areas which are cataloged using a quadrat. The volunteer researchers catalog all plants found inside each quadrat.
Another example would be for atmospheric data collection. We use a device called an thermo-hygro-anemometer to collect atmospheric data readings within each grid section. The observation locations move throughout multiple grid areas during the day.
In addition to conducting "boots on the ground" field research, we will be setting up remote sensing equipment such as weather stations, stream gauges, camera traps, and other methods to collect data.
Q - What are you going to do with all of this research?
A - After we have completed cataloging our field area, a team of senior scientists will get together to synthesize the data and create Venn diagrams, process maps, and analytics of the database with all data points collected. The output will form the blueprint of our section of the Mojave Desert.
The third and final step in our work follows the blueprint phase. Using a controlled setting (e.g., a warehouse) will be used to try to replicate the environment. We will attempt to produce a functional environment that is as close as possible to the original. As this stage is 2-3 years away, we are focused on step 1: Catalog the environment.
Q - Are there benefits other than monetary compensation?
Absolutely! We can provide letters of recommendation for volunteers, which have helped past volunteers obtain scholarships and jobs. If there is interest in a master's-level thesis that includes work within our field area, we will support the endeavor by actively working towards finding funding with the student and assisting with publication efforts. Furthermore, you will be working directly with well-respected scientists, which will allow you to improve your network. Our goal is to help each volunteer researcher gain the opportunity to begin, or further their career in the sciences.
Q - If I still have questions, who can I contact?