Fish Ecology Field & Laboratory Assistant – Bright Spots

Employer:  Quinn Smith (; he/him)


I am seeking 2 motivated and independent undergraduate students to assist with monitoring fish communities and limnological characteristics in multiple lakes in northern Wisconsin. This research project is focused on exploring effects of a previous whole lake manipulation, identifying factors that lead to successful walleye populations, and exploring fine-scale habitat use by individual walleye.

Multiple anthropogenic stressors have influenced inland fisheries in the past and continue to do so today. Habitat loss, pollution, species introductions, and overfishing have influenced inland fisheries for decades, and the effect of climate change threatens to compound these anthropogenic stressors. Instead of focusing on factors that influence population decline in some fisheries, this research emphasizes ‘bright spots’ – specifically walleye fisheries success stories. The bright spots project seeks to understand the factors associated with walleye fisheries that perform far better than expectations given climate change effects. The bright spots project is currently in the beginning phases and anticipates that combining the results of these multiple approaches will yield new insights into what helps contribute to a successful walleye fishery. These results will also generate knowledge that will aim to inform climate-smart fisheries management in the future.

The work will primarily be composed of:

Field work: ~70% of time (work will be conducted both during the day and at night)

  • Fish sampling (e.g., fyke nets, clover traps, boat electroshocking, etc.)
  • Fish processing (length, weight, sex, diets, age structures, isotopes, etc.)
  • Deployment and retrieval of remote sensors in multiple lakes
  • Basic limnological, zooplankton, and benthic invertebrate sampling

Laboratory work: ~30% of time

  • Sample processing (e.g., benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, fish length, weight, etc.)
  • Data entry

Most of the work will be based in the field and may require long hours under possible adverse conditions. Fish sampling and limnological sampling will all be done via boat. Technicians will gain experience with several fish and limnological sampling methods. Aside from this main project, there will be multiple opportunities to assist on and gain experience with other aquatic/fisheries ecology-based projects and groups (e.g., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Escanaba Lake Research Station, UW-Stevens Point, North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research (NTL LTER)).

Having students with different life experiences and backgrounds is critical to ensure the exchange of diverse ideas which is necessary in training tomorrow’s scientists. Because we are actively working to increase diversity and inclusivity in our discipline, underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.


  • Respectfully interacting with members of the public at field sites
  • Safe operation of UW – Madison boats and vehicles
  • Launching and towing boats
  • Careful and accurate data collection and sample processing
  • Deploying and retrieving sampling equipment
  • Handling and measuring fish
  • Assist with field and lab equipment maintenance
  • Entering data into shared databases


  • Must be eager to learn and have a genuine interest in aquatic ecology and/or fisheries ecology.
  • Maintain positive attitude while conducting work in a team setting.
  • Must be willing to work under possible adverse conditions (i.e., nighttime, hot sun, cold, wind, rain, biting flies, etc.) for long hours.
  • Be able to lift and carry a moderate amount of gear over short distances.
  • Must be able to swim.
  • Valid driver’s license which meets UW Risk Management standards is required.
  • A unique aspect of these positions will be an opportunity to conduct independent research, which includes giving an oral presentation to staff, scientists, and other research technicians, using data you collected


  • Number of positions: 2 @ ~30-40 hrs/week
  • Start date: mid to late May 2024
  • End date: late August to early September 2024
  • Pay:  $14.50 no experience; $14.75 some experience; $15.00 very experienced


These positions are located at the CFL’s Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction, WI in northern Wisconsin.   Dormitory style housing (not food) is provided free of charge. Enjoy swimming, hiking, fishing, biking and shoreline campfires while gaining valuable research experience!

How to apply:

  • Application link
  • Priority consideration deadline:  February 21, 2024
  • We accept applications until all positions are filled.
  • Indicate preference for Fish Ecology Field & Laboratory Assistant – Bright Spots on your application and contact Quinn Smith if you have any questions.

The CFL is an equal opportunity employer and is dedicated to an inclusive and positive working environment for all.