Research Assistant I - Full-time/Term-Limit

Lisle, IL
Full Time

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned nonprofit outdoor museum and research institution dedicated to the study and growth of trees. We are seeking a highly motivated individual to join the international team of researchers who are part of the Center for Tree Science in our effort to improve trees and enhance their ability to meet the challenges of the future. We are recruiting a Research Assistant who will join the Root Lab ( and work as part of a team addressing interdisciplinary questions broadly related to tree, root, and soil fungal ecology. The Research Assistant will also have the opportunity to learn new skills, communicate their work to diverse audiences, and interact with other teams within the Center for Tree Science and with our network of collaborators at other institutions and universities. 

Position Summary: Assist in laboratory, field, and/or office operations for research programs in the Center for Tree Science, a global hub of research and expertise focused on trees. Participate in research projects by performing the assigned experiments and activities.

Essential Functions: 

  • Assist in research activities in the laboratory, field, and/or office in order to meet assigned research goals. Consult with research supervisor in order to assist in planning for the implementation of new and ongoing scientific studies. 

  • Perform assigned research activities independently and in team settings. Collect, record and analyze results in order to provide clear, well-documented methods and data for research projects. 

  • Maintain materials, equipment, methods, and records of research procedures, including evaluations and curation of accumulated data. Assist with the purchasing and acquisition of research materials.

  • Contribute to research products, including reports, manuscripts, and articles for publication. May present and communicate findings to internal and external professional and academic peers.

  • Read and discuss relevant literature, including peer-reviewed studies, in order to maintain a current knowledge of the field of research.

  • Provide assistance and guidance to temporary employees, students, and volunteers, and communicate with external collaborators.

  • Ensure safety and cleanliness of assigned laboratory, office, and field research sites. 

  • Assist in operating, calibrating, and maintaining laboratory, field, and office instruments and equipment in order to ensure proper functioning, accuracy, and compliance with written specifications. 

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:Bachelor’s degree required in the specific field of research; 1+ years of related work experience preferred. In lieu of the degree, 3+ years of equivalent scientific training in a research setting required. Knowledge of and ability to apply ideas and approaches typical of specific fields of research. Experience with standard field, laboratory, and/or analytical research techniques and safety requirements related to research being performed required. Proficiency with written and oral communication to different audiences preferred. May require software or coding experience specific to the area of research. May be required to possess a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google applications strongly preferred.

Success Factors: Ability and willingness to work independently in office, laboratory, and field environments. Self-motivated learner. Strong problem-solving skills. 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 physical activity: walking over varied terrain, bending, limited lifting and carrying (up to 50 lbs. assisted). Use of chemicals may be necessary. Some travel required. 

  • Work Environment: Office environment, Arboretum grounds, and off-site locations. Work is performed indoors and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions. This position is designated as a hybrid-eligible position, allowing for some work to be performed off premise, during regular hours of work.

  • Equipment: General office equipment, field and laboratory equipment, including specialized equipment relating to particular field of research, hand and power tools, Arboretum pick-up truck and/or utility vehicle.

  • Schedule: Work may require occasional evenings and weekends.

For full consideration, please include cover letter and CV with application.

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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