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Volunteer Field Research Assistant: Object Play and Tool Use in Balinese Long-Tailed Macaques
Field Assistants
Posted Oct 17


 Volunteer Field Research Assistant: Object Play and Tool Use in Balinese Long-Tailed Macaques 

Hiring Organization: University of Lethbridge 

Date Posted: 2018-10-17 

Position Description: We are seeking a conscientious and highly motivated Field Research Assistant (FRA) to help collect behavioral data on long-tailed macaques living on the island of Bali, Indonesia. This project aims to test the hypothesis that object play is a developmental precursor to flexible tool use in Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). 

The FRA will join a Ph.D. student on a field stay of 18 weeks (4 months and 2 week) in Bali, scheduled from 24th April to 31st August 2019. The FRA will help study large free-ranging and neighboring groups of monkeys living at the Ubud Monkey Forest and Sangeh Monkey Forest (central Bali). These macaques are commensal (i.e., they live in human-dominated habitats, including Balinese temples); the field site is visited daily by many tourists. 

The FRA will collect behavioral data on a large number of immature and adult male and female monkeys. Data collection will consist of a combination of instantaneous group scan sampling (using a pre-established ethogram), video-recorded continuous focal-animal sampling, and non-invasive field experiments aiming to induce tool use. 

The field workload is about 12 hours/day (8 am to 6 pm and some additional nightwork to organize the collected data) and 6 days a week. 

The FRA will be accommodated in a house located near the field site, with basic equipment and utilities, including water, electricity, and wireless internet. Ubud is a conglomerate of villages (with several supermarkets, convenient stores, restaurants, and local Indonesian cafes, aka “warungs”), and is considered the “cultural heart” of Bali. The largest city in Bali is Denpasar, located about 60 minutes away by motorbike. 

The FRA will not be allowed to collect data for publication independent of the research project. However, we encourage the FRA to work with us co-authoring papers based on or stemming from the data that he/she assists the Ph.D. student in collecting. Therefore, this is an excellent position for anyone interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the future. 

Qualifications/Experience: Required – Applicants should: 


  • • have (or be working toward) an undergraduate (B.Sc./B.A.) degree or Master’s degree in psychology, biology, ecology, or anthropology, with an emphasis on animal behavior (e.g., ethology, behavioral ecology, zoology) 
  • • show a positive attitude in the face of long and tiring field work days and unforeseen challenges 
  • • be physically fit to stand and walk several hours a day in the heat, while collecting behavioral data 
  • • feel comfortable walking around a large group of well-habituated monkeys, which may (very occasionally) include getting a monkey jumping on the observer’s shoulders! 
  • • be mentally strong and emotionally mature to spend several weeks living under basic conditions and being far away from family and friends, and be able to communicate openly about problems 
  • • exhibit strong social skills, flexibility and sensitivity to other cultures 


Desirable – Priority will be given to applicants with: 

  • • a previous field experience in field biology/ecology research, collecting behavioral data from individually recognized free-ranging animals by using handheld video camera 
  • • some knowledge of behavioral data collection methods (e.g. focal and scan sampling techniques) 
  • • good observation skills including patience, persistence and attention to detail 
  • • a previous experience traveling and living in foreign countries and cultures 
  • • a previous experience driving an automatic motorbike 
  • • fluency in English 


Salary/funding: This is a volunteer position, so there is no salary. 

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging): 

The FRA are expected to cover travel to the study location, including international flight from the successful applicant’s home country to Jakarta, and domestic flight (from Jakarta to Bali), food and hotel in Jakarta, as well as administrative fees, such as RISTEK-research permit, KITAS-stay permit and visa expenses, for a total of approximately $260 (USD). The FRA will also cover all living expenses in Bali. Monthly expenses (i.e., accommodation, food, motorbike rental) may range between $350 and $450 (USD). 

The FRA are also responsible for any additional expenses incurred while in Bali. These expenses include international health insurance, recommended vaccinations, insect-repellent products, and basic field clothes, footwear and gear. Upon successful application, the FRA should provide us with an official document of international health insurance. 

Advice about recommended vaccinations and items for life/research in Bali will be provided to the successful applicant. 

Term of Appointment: From April 24 to August 31, 2019 (i.e., 18 consecutive weeks). Please note that the starting date for field work in Bali will be May 1st 2019, due to the need to spend at least four days in Jakarta (April 24th – 28th) to deal with the Indonesian administrative procedure (e.g., collecting research permit and other official documents). 

Application Deadline: Review of applications will begin immediately and the position will remain open until filled. 

We expect to select the successful candidate by December 1st 2018 (or probably earlier). Short-listed applicants will be contacted to schedule phone interviews as soon as possible. 

Comments: Please submit the following documentation in ONE single PDF file saved with your last and first name in the file name (e.g., “SmithJohn.pdf”): 

  • • A statement of your interest in this position, including dates you are available in 2019 
  • • Your CV, including all relevant field courses, coursework, and field experience, and where/how you can be contacted 
  • • The contact information (including email addresses) of two academic or professional references who can attest to your qualifications 


Applications that contain more than one file will not be considered. 

Your application should be emailed to Camilla Cenni (, PhD student and future FRA’s supervisor, under the following email title: “FRA-Bali”. 

If you do not hear from us by December 10th, please assume that you are not being considered for the position. 

Contact Information: Camilla Cenni, PhD student 

Leca Lab – Department of Psychology 

University of Lethbridge 

Lethbridge, AB 


Principal Investigator 

Jean-Baptiste Leca, PhD 

Department of Psychology 

University of Lethbridge 

Lethbridge, AB