Mianus River Gorge
Research Assistantship Program (RAP)

Program Description
The Mianus River Gorge (MRG), a land trust and conservation organization in
Bedford, NY, awards a Research Assistantship Program (RAP) grant to fund a
graduate-level study that investigates environmental challenges in urban
and suburban ecosystems. RAP students are awarded a grant of $5,000/yr for
two (Master’s) or three (Doctoral) years.

The overarching purpose of this grant is to answer ecological questions
related both to conservation in urban and suburban landscapes generally,
and to specific issues affecting the MRG Preserve and/or the Mianus
Watershed. Thus, while we are happy to consider proposals from students
from any location, our local-scale interest combined with the high school
mentorship requirements (see below) means that we tend to award the grant
to students located in and/or focused on the northeast US.

Applicant Eligibility

• Applicant must be willing to mentor a high school student in our
authentic research program, the Wildlife Technician Program (WTP).
• Proposed research must directly contribute to a better understanding of
urban and suburban ecosystems from a management perspective. We are
interested in applied research that will inform land management and develop
conservation strategies for natural areas in urbanized landscape, and
provide management recommendations to our staff on stewarding the MRG
Preserve and the Mianus Watershed.
• Proposed projects can be multi-disciplinary and cover a range of topics,
e.g., wildlife biology, human ecology, watershed or forest management, and
ecosystem processes.
• Candidates must be enrolled in a U.S. accredited college (Master’s or PhD
• All proposed studies should include the Gorge or its watershed as one of
the study sites although other sites may be used (and is encouraged to
provide regional relevance to your findings).

Evaluation Criteria

• Mentor potential – Does the project provide research opportunities for a
high school student? Does the applicant and their study design seem to
facilitate involvement and cooperation with a high school mentee?
• Research implications - How can the proposed research contribute to
improved management, restoration, or conservation of natural resources in
suburban and urban landscapes? How will the proposed research inform
management of the Mianus River Gorge and/or the Mianus Watershed
• Project duration - Can the proposed project provide meaningful results
during the student’s tenure?
• Funding - Can the research be completed with existing resources?
• Innovative – Does the research utilize new methodologies, theories, or
management strategies?
• Impact on existing resource – We are interested in studies that employ
methods that minimize disturbance or impact upon the population or resource
you are studying, particularly regarding the MRG Preserve itself, whenever
possible. If invasive or destructive sampling is proposed, there should be
a strong justification for its need and a lack of alternatives.

Students interested in all aspects of applied ecology and conservation are
encouraged to submit a proposal to RAP, but this year we are particularly
interested in studies on eastern hemlock forest ecology with a focus on the
management and protection of MRGP’s old-growth hemlock forest. This could
include soil or mycorrhizal ecology and potential for restoration of
below-ground function in hemlock stands, management of hemlock wooly
adelgid, or other community-level research with strong potential to inform
on-the-ground conservation or restoration. Similar questions on
second-growth oak-hickory and/or maple-ash-birch forest management would be
welcomed as well.

With that said, proposals that relate to any aspect of applied ecology and
conservation will certainly be considered. We have funded projects
examining a wide spectrum of topics such as songbird nutrition, vernal pool
ecology, population genetics, water quality, invasive species management,
and wildlife diseases.

Application Process
Applications are reviewed in two stages. To attract a broad array of ideas,
we ask candidates to
describe their project in two to four pages. Those candidates whose
application successfully meets the above evaluation criteria will be
interviewed and asked to provide a more detailed proposal before a final
decision is made. We encourage prospective applications to contact us if
they have any questions about the grant program.

We prefer to receive applications from and interview the student that will
be conducting the research directly, but professors who are recruiting
students for a given proposal may also apply. In such cases we ask that the
professor contact us directly to discuss their project before submitting an

Please apply at:

and email all materials to resea...@mianus.org by 5/15/18

For examples of previous RAP and WTP projects, see:

Questions? email resea...@mianus.org  or call 914.234.3455

Chris Nagy, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Education - Mianus River Gorge, Bedford, NY

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