Research Aide - Part-Time, term-limit

Lisle, IL
Part Time

Do you seek an employment opportunity that combines forest health (i.e. entomology, pathology) with environmental and ecological science and practice? The Morton Arboretum (TMA) Plant Health Care (PHC) lab is looking for a qualified candidate to serve as a research aide and to participate in a federal (USFS) and state (IDNR) funded collaborative research study to examine factors responsible oak decline in Illinois. The goal of this project is to determine what abiotic and biotic factors, primarily root rot fungi, that may be contributing to the rapid decline and death of oak tree species. This project will include both field and lab work for taking root samples from oak trees, preparing the samples for ELISA testing, and culturing, data entry and analysis, and assistance with preparing outreach materials, Best Management Practices (BMPs), and research results, and supervising seasonal student interns. The position will require the ability to work independently in the field , but also as a team member, and to have good oral and written communications skills when interacting with private landowners, the public, and green industry professionals. The Plant Health Care (PHC) Lab is active component of the TMA Collections Department which is a consortium of scientists research a variety of woody plants for use in urban forest and landscape plantings and reforestation of our rural forest lands. 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 both locally and globally. This position is anticipated to be a 28-30 hours per week, year-round position with possible extension for successive years dependent on federal funding.

Position Summary:  Assist with laboratory, computational, and/or field research under mentorship of an Arboretum scientist. Funding for this position is temporary with an expected duration of 12 months. This is a hybrid-eligible position.

Essential Functions: 

  • Work under the mentorship of a research scientist or director and their team to conduct an independent, yet guided, research or conservation project, including the design and implementation.
  • Assist with data and sample collection, sample processing, data analysis, record keeping, and project coordination on assigned research and related projects. 
  • Operate and maintain field or laboratory equipment. Perform routine lab maintenance by keeping laboratory and equipment in good working order. 
  • May assist in maintenance of living plants in the field and greenhouse.
  • Demonstrate alignment with the Arboretum’s employee core values to be inclusive, take ownership, work together, keep learning and make the Arboretum exceptional.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: High school diploma required, bachelor’s degree in related field preferred. Ability to conduct field, laboratory, and library research is required. 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 highly preferred.

Success Factors: Ability and willingness to work in laboratory and field environments. Eagerness to learn and participate in the scientific process, from project initiation, design to completion. Good written and oral communication skills. Clear thought, visual acuity, and manual dexterity needed. 

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 depending on specific project: walking over varied terrain, bending, limited lifting and carrying (up to 50 lbs. assisted). Use of chemicals may be necessary. Local and overnight travel may be required. 
  • Work Environment: Office environment, Arboretum grounds, and field locations. Work is performed indoors and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions. Occasional international travel to remote locations and after-hours work may be required, 
  • Equipment: General office equipment, field and laboratory equipment, including specialized equipment relating to particular field of research, hand tools, Arboretum pick-up truck and/or utility vehicle.

The expected hiring range is between $18- $20/hour based on experience that will be evaluated during the candidate selection process, along with internal equity. 

The Morton Arboretum is a champion for 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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