Powdermill Nature Reserve

Research with Us!

Hello! We welcome you to explore research possibilities at Powdermill Nature Reserve.

Powdermill has a permanent research staff conducting studies in avian ecology, bioacoustics, long-term molt and bird-banding studies, forest succession, stream ecology, turtle demography, and more. We are in the process of producing a very detailed GIS vegetation map of the entire property that will be available to visiting researchers as baseline data. We have a weather station that records most standard parameters continuously. We are part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History and thus can draw on considerable expertise from the museum staff, many of whom also conduct field studies at Powdermill. Roughly two dozen research associates from regional universities and overseas institutions conduct studies on a wide range of topics. Powdermill actively seeks new research associates and graduate students to undertake field studies on the property utilizing our new facilities.

Research Facilities 

The Reserve offers a “green” headquarters with two furnished classrooms featuring modern, user-friendly audio-visual equipment; a spacious deck overlooking the Powdermill woods; two exhibition galleries focusing on our avian research and stream ecology; a modern conference room; outdoor teaching area, and catering kitchen. These areas are ideal for meetings, workshops, and conferences at a reasonable rental charge. An innovative Marsh Machine wastewater treatment system ties in with the Living Stream aquarium demonstrating that the organisms that live in our exceptional value stream can also live in the system-treated water. Several well-equipped cabins are available at a nominal charge to visiting researchers, university groups, or participants in conferences in the headquarters building. We have a modern GIS lab that can provide support to visiting researchers. The avian research group maintains a permanent bird banding program with a massive database available for baseline data and a bioacoustics lab specializing in the study of nocturnal flight songs. There is some desk space available to long-term researchers and we are developing a small in-house reference library. Limited high-speed Internet access is available.

Starting Research at Powdermill 

The field station wishes to encourage new projects on our property. We offer competitive internships for graduate students conducting research at Powdermill. These internships subsidize housing at Powdermill and provide a modest stipend. Availability varies and is highly competitive. Contact us for more information.

Powdermill offers the advantage of long-term stability for multi-year projects and even, in approved cases, the ability to undertake controlled manipulations. Populations of plants or animals can be permanently marked and accessed as needed with little concern for external disturbance. Most of the property is closed to the public and reserved for research only.

We are in the process of constructing a detailed vegetation map of the entire 2,200-acre property and in establishing permanent vegetation monitoring plots. These data are available to collaborators and visiting researchers.


The reserve has typical vegetation of the mid-Appalachian region, roughly 400-640 m a.s.l. Most was logged in the late 1880s to early 1920s and has been uncut since then. The forest is dominated by oaks and maples, with substantial populations of beech, hickory, kiwi, tulip tree, and some hemlock. The known flora of the reserve comprises more than 850 species in 129 families. There are also roughly 200 acres of old field habitats with diverse and representative vegetation. Habitats present a mosaic of subtle differences due to variations in land use in the first half of the 1900s. The property has several forested streams with healthy aquatic ecosystems and in other areas impacted by old coal mines. The bird banding station includes several small ponds and areas of dense, shrubby secondary growth. Part of the property borders the Forbes State Forest and there are other researcher-accessible properties nearby.

Overall Powdermill offers a large area of healthy and representative forest and old field habitats. These habitats contain a healthy and diverse fauna and many opportunities for research and long-term studies. Our location makes us convenient to large urban areas of the middle Atlantic region and dozens of universities are within several hours drive. Costs of working at Powdermill are nominal and opportunities are numerous.

For more information or questions, contact us via the Staff page.