Tree Conservation Research Assistant II - Full-time

Lisle, IL
Full Time

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned nonprofit botanic garden dedicated to the study,  growth, and conservation of trees both in the Chicago region and worldwide. We are seeking a highly motivated individual to join the Global Tree Conservation Program (GTCP) in our effort to prevent extinction of threatened trees. The  Tree Conservation Research Assistant level II (RA II) will  support the running of key elements of the GTCP, with a focus on developing and applying qualitative and quantitative methods for prioritizing species where ex situ and in situ conservation actions are most urgently needed, leading conservation-planning and capacity building activities with stakeholders, and contributing to conservation-focused field research. The Tree Conservation RA II will be supervised by the director of GTCP but will also have the opportunity to collaborate with partners around the world, including across the U.S. and in forest biodiversity hotspots, such as Mesoamerica and SE Asia.


Position Summary: Work closely with the Director of Global Tree Conservation to support the running of key elements of the Global Tree Conservation Program (GTCP) at The Morton Arboretum with focus on research and conservation-planning activities with threatened tree species.

Essential Functions: 

  • Lead, coordinate, and write funding proposals to support GTCP projects.

  • Conduct species prioritization research, which includes gathering and analyzing demographic, ecological and threat data on priority tree species, preparing maps using spatial analysis software, and preparing and updating IUCN Red List threat assessments, conservation gap analyses, IUCN Green List Status assessments, and species action plans.

  • Perform assigned research activities, including international field work in biodiversity hotspots. Record and analyze results in order to provide clear, well-documented data for research projects.

  • Compile and summarize results and assist in preparing and editing reports, manuscripts and articles for publication. 

  • Present and communicate findings to internal and external professional and academic peers; and organize and contribute to conservation activities, such as community workshops and stakeholder meetings, both in the U.S. and in priority countries for the GTCP.

  • Provide training and supervision to temporary employees, students, interns, and/or volunteers, including international collaborators and fellows.

  • Coordinate with collaborators, manage communications and project updates, and promote the work of the Arboretum’s conservation initiatives, including global oaks and US trees.

  • Identify stakeholders, potential partners, resources, and sites for tree conservation projects that fill identified gaps.

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:  Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree preferred in environmental science, conservation, environmental policy, botany, biology, forestry, or a related science. 3+ years of related research or work experience required with a demonstrated knowledge of research implementation. Ability to conduct statistical and GIS/spatial analyses, ideally in R. Excellent organizational, communication, and independent working skills required. Ability to conduct library research and online data mining required. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google applications beneficial. Basic botanical knowledge is beneficial. Knowledge of Spanish or another secondary language beneficial. Knowledge of the IUCN Red List and international conservation policies/frameworks desirable. Must possess a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report.  

Success Factors: Self-motivated learner and ability to solve problems and manage projects with minimal supervision. Familiar with academic and scientific literature and research databases. Ability to read and understand scientific literature and peer-reviewed articles. Ability to use database, spreadsheet, and statistical/graphics programs, and proficiency with internet research. Strong written and oral communication skills. Understanding of national and international conservation policies. Willingness to conduct research or conservation activities in Mesoamerica or Southeast Asia and the ability to work independently in remote settings with culturally-diverse partners and local stakeholders. Interest in botanic gardens and  management of  living plant collections. Ability to embrace and operate in line with our 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 sitting for long periods of time. Occasional 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, including internationally. 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 resume and cover letter with application. Applicant review will begin May 2. Position will remain open until 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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