Postdoctoral Researcher, McQuaid Fellow in Tree Genomics- Full-time/Term-limit

Lisle, IL
Full Time

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned nonprofit outdoor museum 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. The McQuaid Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tree Genomics will collaborate with the US Forest Service Northern Research Station’s EAB-resistant ash breeding program. Utilizing resources from this program that include phenotyped, pedigreed families, the fellow will work to identify quantitative trait loci data from the results of a bioassay that reproducibly measures differences in response to EAB, leading to a genotyping platform. Given initial results from a population of F1 crosses, gain in resistance was considerable and heritable. The Fellow will collaborate closely with a community of experts working on this project at a number of institutions, including the University of Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State University, University of Tennessee, and the University of Connecticut. While green ash is the focus of the work, careful consideration will also be given to identifying a generalized approach to rapidly responding to invasive pests and diseases in trees.

Position Summary:  Combine resources, collections, and expertise available at The Morton Arboretum with the latest techniques and facilities available at University of Notre Dame and the US Forest Service Northern Research Station to address important challenges facing trees in a rapidly changing modern world. Leverage strengths of The Morton Arboretum and its research partners to advance tree genomic research and help create effective strategies for improving tree health and sustainability. Funding for this position is term-limit and is expected to run for 24 months.

Essential Functions:

  • Pursue research that addresses a current ongoing issue in tree performance, health, and resilience with the objective of improving the future prospects of trees.
  • Identify the most effective technology and project design to generate appropriate and sufficient data to address the issue in tree performance and integrity.
  • Aim towards generalizable solutions that anticipate future challenges to other tree groups.  
  • Utilize the Arboretum’s living collections, ongoing research projects, and/or actively transfer knowledge and technology to the development of the Center for Tree Science capacity and training.  
  • Participate in activities, outreach, mentoring, and training programs of the Center for Tree Science through remote interaction and several in-person visits at The Morton Arboretum.
  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise between the Arboretum and its research partners, including in-person visits and distributed team work.
  • Conduct literature research and other independent learning as needed in order to accomplish tasks associated with the project and keep abreast of new scientific advances.
  • Prepare and submit scientific articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as other scientific analyses as required by the partnership. 
  • Participate in public outreach and data sharing efforts to promote and expand the general impact of the project. 
  • Contribute to the Center for Tree Science through collaboration, providing scientific input and guidance, and engaging in departmental activities such as Monday Tree Talks and occasional discussion and planning meetings. 
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:  Ph.D. in a biological field required, with expertise in genomics, bioinformatics, population genetics, quantitative genetics, plant breeding, horticulture, or related field. Experience with the necessary technologies and analytical techniques to address the research question is required. Experience with tree breeding and propagation techniques is preferred. Experience working in a distributed team environment, through a combination of in-person and virtual interaction, is beneficial. A successful track record as an emerging research scientist including demonstrated communication with academic and professional audiences through publications, presentations and/or other media, and a commitment to conducting relevant and timely research is required. 

Success Factors:  Strong analytical and technical abilities. Self-motivated, with the initiative and resourcefulness to implement, evaluate, and report on research projects. Desire to conduct interdisciplinary research with other scientists that result in applied solutions. Ability to work and communicate with a dispersed team. Ability to write manuscripts for scientific peer-reviewed journals and communicate results to a broad audience. 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 30 lbs. assisted). Use of chemicals might  be necessary. Ability to wear Personal Protective Equipment required. Some local and regional travel. Some national and international travel expected, including visits each year with project collaborators. 

  • Work Environment: Office environment, lab environments, Arboretum grounds, and off-site locations. Work is performed indoors in a lab and office environment and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions.  Outdoor locations may include nurseries and plant growing areas, field plantings, and forested lands.

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

  • Schedule: Work may require occasional evening and weekend hours. Time will be spent between The Morton Arboretum and its research partners facilities in the most effective manner to advance the work.

For full consideration, please include cover letter and resume with application. Applications will begin to be evaluated by January 1, 2023 and continue until the position is filled.

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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