Research Intern (College, 2 positions)- Temporary

Lisle, IL
Full Time

Do you seek an internship that connects restoration science and practice? The Midgley Soil Ecology Lab at The Morton Arboretum is recruiting two current or recent college-level Research Interns to participate in our experimental prairie and brush pile burning projects. The experimental prairie Research Intern will work with a team of students, scientists, and staff to survey prairie plant communities, collect and process soil samples, and maintain the experimental garden located at The Morton Arboretum. The goal of this project is to evaluate the effects of plants and plant communities on soil ecosystem functioning. The brush pile burning Research Intern will work with a team of students, scientists, and staff to survey woodland plant communities, collect and process soil samples, and maintain and deconstruct greenhouse experiments. The goal of this project is to evaluate the effects of brush pile burning on plant and soil communities in Chicago-area forest preserves undergoing restoration. We seek applicants who enjoy working outdoors with a variety of people, have a strong desire to gain plant identification skills, have interest in learning how to characterize soils and fungi, and want to grow as a scientist. Interns will also learn about science careers and opportunities and practice science communication. The Midgley Soil Ecology lab is embedded in The Center for Tree Science, a consortium of scientists addressing the key challenges facing trees and their ecosystems. We encourage you to join our supportive and engaged team at the world-renowned Morton Arboretum, a nonprofit botanic garden dedicated to the study, growth, and conservation of trees locally and globally. The experimental prairie internship is a full-time, 13- week summer internship. The brush pile burning internship is a full-time summer internship that can continue full time for the remainder of the year or transition to a part-time position; 6 months of full-time funding is available for this position.

Position Summary: Assist in laboratory and/or field operations at the Arboretum under close supervision of an Arboretum scientist. Specific responsibilities will vary with each research program. Research programs include soil science, root biology, plant health care, plant systematics, forest ecology, and conservation biology. 

Essential Functions: 

  • Provide support to a scientist for the implementation of research and related projects. 

  • Assist with data and sample collection, sample processing, data analysis, and record keeping on research and related projects. 

  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment, and perform routine lab maintenance by keeping laboratory and field equipment in good working order. 

  • May maintain living plants in the field and greenhouse. 

  • May voucher and assist with the curation of herbarium specimens. 

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: Current enrollment in, or completion of high school or an Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program, with a stated interest in studying biology, environmental sciences, or a related field. Willingness and eagerness to learn necessary field, laboratory, and library research skills required. Experience with database, spreadsheet, and statistical/graphics computer programs, and Google applications beneficial. Depending on the position, may require possession of a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report.

Success Factors: Ability and willingness to work in laboratory and field environments. Good written and oral communication skills. Clear thought, visual acuity, and manual dexterity needed. Ability to embrace and align with the organization’s employee core values to be inclusive, take ownership, work together, keep learning and make the Arboretum exceptional.

Physical Demands and Work Environment: The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.

  • Physical Demands: Requires some physical activity: walking over varied terrain, bending, limited lifting and carrying (up to 50 lbs. assisted). Use of chemicals may be necessary. 

  • Work Environment: Office environment and Arboretum grounds. Work is performed indoors and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions. Some local or national travel may be required.

  • Equipment: General office equipment, field and laboratory equipment, including specialized equipment relating to particular field of research, hand tools.

The hourly rate is $16.00/hour for currently enrolled college students and $17.00/hour for college graduates. 

 Applications will begin to be evaluated on April 3, 2023 and continue until the positions are filled. For full consideration, please include a resume and cover letter.

Applicants should indicate the project that most interests them and address the following questions in their cover letter:

1) What motivates you to pursue a research experience in plant and soil ecology?

2) How does this internship fit into your short- and long-term career goals?

3) What most interests you about the project you selected?


All Arboretum employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of that status in order to maintain their employment.

The Morton Arboretum is a champion of diversity, supporting a culture of inclusion that attracts, inspires, and engages people to achieve success. The Arboretum is committed to hire and develop employees based on job-related qualifications irrespective of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or veteran status. To increase diversity in professions related to the public garden realm, we encourage applications from underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.  

The Morton Arboretum is dedicated to complying with our obligations as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All applicants are guaranteed equal consideration for employment. 

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