Research Assistant (Forest Ecologist and Tree Conservation Biologist)

Application Deadline:Aug. 14, 2017
Agency:Morton Arboretum
Location:Lisle, Illinois

We are seeking a Research Assistant to support the Forest Ecologist and Tree Conservation Biologist at The Morton Arboretum. These research programs combine elements of field ecology, genetics, and modeling to advance the preservation and conservation of trees in their natural environments and in living collections (e.g. arboreta). The RA will: participate in planning and executing laboratory and field work using a variety of instruments and methods, assist with lab management, organize and order supplies, maintain and inventory equipment, and train and oversee volunteers. The RA will be be involved with the entire research process from data collection and analysis to manuscript preparation. The ideal candidate will be independently motivated and able to contribute to the intellectual development of projects though reading papers, designing studies, and independently analyzing data. There will be opportunity for the RA to collaborate on papers, present research at national meetings, and work with collaborators on international projects. 


The Research Assistant must be well organized, communicate clearly, solve problems, be able to work without close supervision (after training), quickly learn new skills, and have strong attention to detail and meticulous record keeping. Applicants should have a strong background in plant sciences, ecology, evolutionary biology, informatics and/or molecular biology with both lab and field experience. A Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Natural Resources, Evolutionary Biology, Botany, Informatics, or related field is required and a Master’s degree and/or at least one year experience in laboratory, field, or statistical research is strongly preferred. The applicant must demonstrate curiosity, an ability to multi-task, an enthusiasm for ecology and genetics, and an interest in developing a broad range of skills in forest biodiversity science. Work will include a mixture of office, laboratory, and field work. Field work will take place in all weather conditions, and the ability to lift heavy objects and conduct physically challenging activities in all weather is required. Some out of state travel may be required. 


Successful applicants will clearly demonstrate relevant experience and skills in their application. Examples of desirable past experience may, but is not limited to, include the following:
Planning lab or field activities, keeping detailed lab/field notebooks, and documenting protocols. Experience with plant identification and flora of the midwest.
Experience in a molecular lab- PCR, gel electrophoresis, DNA extraction, DNA sequencing, troubleshooting and optimizing lab protocols.
Planning field expeditions, field sampling (biotic and abiotic measurements), seed collection. Data management and analysis using a scripted language such as R; additional coding languages such as python, C, fortran or expertise in a database program (ACCESS, SQL, etc.) are a plus.
Computer programming, informatics, statistical modeling, dynamic biological models. Literature search, meta-analysis, writing reports. 


Sean Hoban ( or Christy Rollinson (