Position Title: Paleontology Assistant
Park Unit: White Sands National Park
Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico
Number of positions available: 2
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 26 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 10/07/2024
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $665.00
Relocation Allowance: $400.00

CURRENT NUMBER OF APPLICANTS: Under 75 (This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first.)

This position will assist the park's physical scientist, archeologist, and other resource division staff in the research and preservation of paleontological and archeological resources. This will include locating, identifying, surveying, managing, and preserving the fossil resources in the park, with a strong emphasis on trace fossils. Specific duties relating to these tasks include, but are not limited to, gathering GPS data, using a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) unit, operating a magnetometer, taking photos for photogrammetry and 3D model analysis, and compiling/managing both digital and physical records. The participant will also provide assistance with large-scale research projects involving extensive field work with both external and internal researchers, some from international organizations. Field work will be conducted in arid conditions over uneven and unstable terrain. There will be hiking carrying heavy/bulky equipment, and sometimes the use of UTVs will be required.

White Sands National Park contains one of the largest assemblages of Pleistocene-aged megafauna and human footprints on Earth. These ichnological resources paint a very important picture of life in North America during that time, especially with the recent discovery of human footprints dating back to 21,000-23,000 years before present. These dates challenge the current accepted theory that humans were not present this far south in North America until about 14,000 years ago. The park has also documented hundreds of megafauna fossilized trackways that belong to animals such as Columbian mammoths, dire wolves, American camels, large felids, giant ground sloths, ancient bison, short-faced bears, and so much more. These fossil trackways are a huge contributing factor to the redesignation of White Sands National Monument to White Sands National Park in 2019, and we believe we've only hit the tip of the iceberg. With climate change and human activities posing immediate threats to our paleontological and archeological resources, we are racing against time with our park's limited resources to document them and devise the best management and preservation activities so that we can continue to share these trackways and stories with the world.


Deliverables may be modified based on current park projects and their priority levels, as circumstances can change frequently and unexpectedly. The participant can expect projects relating to GIS, inventory and monitoring, and/or condition analysis.


Applicants must have or be working towards a bachelor's degree related to natural or cultural sciences, such as paleontology, biology, geology, environmental sciences, archeology, anthropology, or another similar program area. Because a lot of work will be performed in the backcountry of the park, hiking and comfortability with off-road vehicles is required. Skills and knowledge that are preferred, but not required, include familiarity with field research, ArcGIS software, Trimble units, paleontological and archeological policies and practices, Pleistocene-aged fauna and environments, geology and/or sedimentology, photography, data management, and Microsoft Office products. Due to the ever-changing environment at White Sands, good observation, mental flexibility, patience, and adaptability are necessary qualities. Applicants must also be able to work well with a team of diverse backgrounds.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (“Green Card holder”). Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required. The applicant must be available to participate for 26 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

White Sands National Park is situated right in the middle of the Tularosa Basin between the Sacramento mountains to the east and the San Andres mountains to the west in south-central New Mexico. It preserves the world's largest gypsum sand dune field, as well as many other remarkable resources. The Tularosa Basin sits at the very northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert system, so it's a very dry environment with a lot of drought tolerant plants, such as cacti, mesquite, and some grasses. High temperatures for the year generally peak in July/August and often reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest temperatures occur in December/January and can reach the teens overnight and in the morning. These temperatures can fluctuate dramatically throughout the day. Spring season brings high wind events and frequent dust storms, while monsoon season in the summer brings unexpected and sometimes powerful thunderstorms. The closest town to the park is Alamogordo, NM, which sits right at the base of the Sacramento mountains about 17 miles to the northeast. The bigger city of Las Cruces, NM is about 52 miles to the southwest, just on the other side of the San Andres mountain range. Work duties will be completed both in an air-conditioned office and in the field over uneven/unstable terrain. Some field sites require hiking carrying heavy equipment or travel via UTV. Safety is of the utmost importance to our team, so frequent breaks will be provided as needed. PPE will also be provided as available and/or requested.


  • Applicant must have a valid driver's license to drive a government vehicle.
  • A personal vehicle is REQUIRED for this position.

Park housing is NOT available. The intern will be responsible for finding housing in the nearby area. The nearest city with temporary housing available is Alamogordo, NM, where the average monthly rent is around $950. Another, slightly further option is Las Cruces, NM, where the average monthly rent is around $900.

paleontology, natural resources, data management, field, research, archeology, anthropology

This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications, or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first. Once you begin applying for a position, the application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and return later to complete it. Applicants can apply for up to five Scientists in Parks Intern positions per winter. You need to complete a separate application for each position in order to be considered. You should receive a confirmation email after successfully submitting an application. Sometimes institutional email filters/settings can redirect or block emails related to the application. We recommend watching spam, junk, and promotional email folders in case your service delivers messages there. Please visit How to Apply for additional resources and information about applying (i.e., learn what materials to have ready for applying, find a worksheet that previews application questions, etc.)