Tree Conservation Biology Program Manager- Full-time, Term-limit

Full Time

The Morton Arboretum is seeking a Tree Conservation Biology Program Manager to: design and execute conservation research projects including publishing results; contribute to team leadership and mentoring; manage data and procedures; and coordinate and communicate with partners to achieve applied conservation outcomes. You will help develop the knowledge and tools to ensure adaptive capacity and resilience of biodiversity, focusing on trees. There are exciting opportunities to mentor early career scientists in best practices of research, data collection, and data curation; develop new skills through funded professional development; contribute to conservation policy and on the ground conservation; prepare and deliver talks at conferences; and assist with long term planning and grant writing. The successful candidate will ideally have experience in one or more of the following areas: spatial ecology/ GIS/ niche modeling; species threat assessment; big data analysis or meta-analysis; or conservation genetic data generation and analysis. Skills in data management and teamwork are necessary. The ideal candidate is able to work in laboratory, field, and computer environments; has excellent written and verbal communication and attention to detail; is highly organized; and can manage several projects simultaneously. A positive attitude, self-motivation, scientific curiosity and a desire for lifelong learning are a plus. The Arboretum is a beautiful 1,700-acre tree museum in Lisle, Illinois, that attracts more than 1 million visitors each year, and is one of the world’s leading tree science and conservation institutions. Join our team and help make the world a better place through tree conservation.

About us: The Tree Conservation Biology team, led by Dr. Sean Hoban, is a welcoming, supportive, collaborative, and diverse space, which supports growth and new ideas. The team focuses especially on: guiding the management of plant conservation collections ex situ; proxies and indicators for genetic diversity; simulations and sampling design; understanding hybridization in the context of forest pests; biogeography and climate change; species’ threat assessments; and conservation policy. The team regularly collaborates with state and national agencies (US Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, etc.) and national and international NGOs, and performs work in the US and Mexico to save critically endangered tree species. Examples of our published research include: Rosenberger et al 2021, Backs et al 2020, Mastretta-Yanes et al 2023, Zumwalde et al 2022, and Hoban et al 2021. We also produce broader summaries of our work for non-research audiences such as Griffith et al 2019 and Hoban et al 2022.

Position Summary: In collaboration with the Tree Conservation Biologist, set and implement strategies and priorities. Contribute to administration of grants and projects, communication with stakeholders, and cross-program management of data and research materials. Undertake independent research projects, while researching and implementing best practices and testing new methodologies. Conceptualize and lead outreach and external communication. Funding for this position is through October 2026, with a potential for extension. 

Essential Functions: 

  • Perform experiments and generate high quality, replicable data in plant conservation biology, especially trees. Record and analyze results. Organize and conduct fieldwork when needed. Take primary responsibility for at least one self-directed project per year, including project design, logistics, sampling, analysis, maintaining all records, and leading on manuscript writing and submission. Typically submit at least one first author manuscript per year. 
  • Maintain lab function through research and implementation of best practices in experimental design, data generation, curation, and analysis in support of research projects.  Maintain an understanding of research and methods in conservation biology and test new methods for improved workflows. Establish and implement quality control safety procedures in cooperation with other users of the lab. Order materials, supplies and equipment. Organize training for equipment, procedures, expectations, and lab safety. 
  • Manage, organize and curate internal and external documents and data (github, Google Drive, etc), including regularly updated content on our website. Ensure efficient and well-documented storage of samples and reagents from all projects. Track timeliness 
  • and progress on all projects and project components (grant funded and otherwise) including by managing a program-wide timeline, and planning and managing meetings.
  • Assist in the development, writing and submission of future grant proposals, contracts, and agreements. Additionally, assist in administering current Tree Conservation Biology program restricted funding/ grants, including tracking deliverables and expenses, supporting communication among numerous partners, and planning meetings. Assist in preparing and editing reports to granting agencies.
  • Contribute to the Tree Conservation Biology program’s expanding work with policy and external collaborators. Contribute to policy briefs, coordinate with external partners, and support training events. Prepare and deliver talks, tours, and lectures. Serve as a point of contact for the Global Conservation Consortia (GCCs) and similar groups.
  • Participate in the recruitment, selection, and retention of staff for the Tree Conservation Biology program. Update training materials yearly. Mentor early career scientists in the practices of research, data collection, and data curation, to cultivate skills in generating high quality and replicable data. Plan activities to foster lab team spirit.
  • 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.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • Serve in a supervisory capacity of one or more employees, providing leadership guidance and communicating the organization's goals. This includes:
    • Hiring, training, coaching and developing team members, by providing recognition and feedback, and evaluating performance 
    • Ensuring that team members adhere to the Arboretum’s policies and procedures, and maintaining a safe and compliant work environment
    • Building and maintaining positive working relationships with team members, colleagues, and other stakeholders to foster a collaborative and supportive work environment

Qualifications: Master’s degree required in Biology, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Genetics or similar field.  In addition to the Master's degree, 2+ years of related work experience is desired. In lieu of the Master's degree, 3+ years of research, leadership or project management experience in a conservation setting, required. Experience working in conservation or botanic gardens is beneficial. General knowledge of techniques and theory in conservation biology, ecology, and genetics required. Progressive experience with responsibility overseeing research projects and laboratory operations, performing specialized and difficult analytical and research techniques, and designing research experiments required. Experience with analytical and statistical software required. Programming or scripting experience, particularly in R, and knowledge of GIS, is strongly preferred. Must 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 beneficial.

Success Factors: Ability and willingness to work in laboratory, field, and computer environments. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Strong organizational, collaborative, and supervisory skills. Clear thought, visual acuity, and manual dexterity needed. Ability to manage communications with numerous organizations, networks, and constituents. Ability to maintain knowledge of numerous unrelated projects simultaneously. Ability to relate effectively and work with people of various backgrounds and ages. 


Physical Demands and Work Environment: The Tree Conservation Biology Program encompasses the research functions of the conservation biology program including working with stakeholders around the world, as well as the molecular laboratories and sample storage rooms, and field work in the U.S. and abroad. 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: hiking over varied terrain, bending, lifting and carrying (up to 50 lbs), ability to use tools of field collecting and field experiment maintenance (see Equipment). Use of chemicals may be necessary. Some travel required.  
  • Work Environment: Office and lab environment, Arboretum grounds, and field conditions off-site, domestic and potentially international; also conference venues domestic and potentially international. Work is performed indoors and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions. 
  • 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. Tools typically used include pole-pruners, pruning shears, field press, GPS device.

For full consideration, please submit a cover letter and resume


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. 

Loading Job Application......

If you have questions, please contact