Prospective Student



I welcome conversations about joining T.H.E. Lab.  If you are interested in pursuing undergraduate research, a graduate degree, or post-doctoral research related to conservation social science or the human dimensions of natural resources, please contact me (

To inquire about Master’s or Ph.D. openings in my lab, please contact me and tell me about yourself.  I’ll want to know your alma mater and major (include GPA), your interests related to graduate school (include GRE percentiles, if available), your relevant work and/or research experience (include CV, if available), and when you plan to start graduate school.  I will respond with a boilerplate message indicating that (1) I have no positions available or (2) I am looking to fill a specific position and encourage you to apply.  If I am seriously considering you for a position, I will want to conduct a personal interview with you before committing to serve as your advisor.


I also support undergraduate research in my lab and am more than happy to have a conversation about our shared interests.  An experience with my research program will expose you to the methods, theories, and partnerships for managing human-environment interactions in diverse conservation contexts.  T.H.E. Lab takes a team-based approach to science so you will have many opportunities to interact with people from different disciplinary backgrounds and organizations who share the goals of solving complex, social-ecological conservation challenges.



If you are a student in my lab you are smart enough to be doing just about anything else, and making a lot more money doing it.  You are here, in-part, because you are motivated by a conservation ethic that places high value on public service and the attainment and sharing of knowledge.


Your success is my success.  All advisors will tell you they expect a student to be dedicated, self-directed, and to go beyond the normative expectations set by a program, university, or profession.  Of course, we all want you to publish—I expect at least one paper from a Master’s student and three from a Ph.D.  I also expect my students to give freely of their time to outreach opportunities, to participate fully in departmental seminars and other activities, and to become involved with relevant professional organizations and activities.  A dedication to go the extra miles to promote science and conservation to people, from all walks of life, is a hallmark of the land-grant university tradition.


Graduate Research Assistantships

Access Connotations and Experiences among Wildlife Stakeholders on Public and Private Lands in Idaho

Public land access is one of the most salient and prevalent natural resource issues in the Intermountain West. But access is a variably understood term, concept, and issue. How to address issues of access can be informed by multiple disciplines, e.g., psychological, sociocultural, regulatory policy, institutional, or geospatial.


As part of a multi-phase project to earn Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the College of Natural Resources at the University of Idaho, and in collaboration with the Idaho Fish and Game Department, an initial 2-year research assistantship (including summer) is available to work with Dr. Kenneth Wallen in the Dept. of Natural Resources and Society. Subsequent years of funding will be in the form of teaching assistantships or research assistantships, as available. Funding is also allocated for travel and professional conferences. The student will work with faculty to apply for additional funding and fellowships.


Phase 1 of the project is an initial 2-year study (Aug 2021 – July 2023) in partnership with Idaho Fish and Game to understand meanings of and experiences with access among wildlife stakeholders on public and private land in Idaho. The objectives of this human dimensions study are to understand how stakeholders define access, their experiences with access on state and federal lands, and why access issues persist among stakeholders.


Phase 2 will extend and expand upon Phase 1. The student will work with Dr. Wallen and collaborators (e.g., Idaho Fish and Game and the Policy Analysis Group) to co-develop additional independent studies that address the issue of access in Idaho or the broader region, including potentially access to private multi-use lands. The student will have the opportunity to establish a scholastic and/or methodological expertise with practical application.


*Target start date is August 2021 (negotiable, January 2022).



  • Master’s degree in a relevant social or natural resource social science field (candidate should want to pursue a mixed methods social science Ph.D.)

  • Experience with qualitative research methods; interviews, focus groups, and/or facilitation

  • Experience with qualitative analysis; MaxQDA, ATLAS.ti, or NVivo platforms

  • Interest in becoming an expert on the issue/topic of access

  • Interest in addressing issues from multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives

  • Interest in working directly with stakeholders and agencies in the Intermountain West

  • English language proficiency

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with statistical analysis; open source (R) or proprietary (SPSS, JASP) platforms

  • Experience with geospatial analysis; open source (QGIS) or proprietary (ESRI) platforms

  • Experience with programming language (R, Python, etc.)

  • Understand psychological, sociological, institutional, and/or political science perspectives and methods

  • Understand recreation, land use, and/or natural resource regulation and policy


To Apply

Send (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) transcripts from Master’s and undergraduate program, and (4) names and emails for 2-3 references in one PDF to Priority review date is April 5, 2020. Email Dr. Wallen with any questions.


Human Dimensions
Conservation  |  Natural Resources
People  |  Behavior  |  Action

© 2020 by Kenneth E. Wallen