Research Coordinator, Oak Ecosystem Restoration, Full-time/Term-limit

Lisle, IL
Full Time

Do you seek to build bridges between ecological theory and application and restoration researchers and practitioners? The Midgley Soil Ecology Lab at The Morton Arboretum is recruiting a full-time Project Coordinator to oversee and conduct assessments of brush pile burns on plants, fungi, and soils in Chicago-region oak ecosystems. We seek applicants who enjoy working outdoors with a variety of people, have excellent plant identification skills, have experience characterizing soils and fungi, and approach problems scientifically. The Midgley Soil Ecology lab is embedded in The Center for Tree Science, a consortium of scientists addressing the key challenges facing trees and their ecosystems. 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 locally and globally. 

Position Summary:  Coordinate laboratory and field operations and implement data and sample collection with staff, students, and external collaborators for an experimental and field-based study of oak ecosystem restoration techniques. This position is supported by a Walder Foundation Biota award, “The consequences of burn pile scars for oak ecosystem biodiversity.” Funding for this position is temporary with an expected duration through May 2025.

Essential Functions:

  • Conduct and coordinate research activities in the laboratory and field in order to meet assigned research goals, including coordinating field sampling with external collaborators. 

  • Plan and implement research methods and procedures, and adapt and update as necessary to meet project objectives and deadlines.

  • Work with managers, stewards, and volunteers to identify project sites; characterize brush pile construction, composition, and burn properties; and establish a burn scar restoration experiment.

  • Perform assigned research activities in the field, lab, and greenhouse. Establish sampling schemes, conduct plant community assessments, and collect soil samples in the field. Evaluate soil seed bank and mycorrhizal inoculum potentials in the greenhouse. Assess fungal community composition using molecular lab techniques. Conduct soil biological, chemical, and physical analyses in the laboratory.

  • Provide training and supervision to temporary employees, students, interns, and/or volunteers in assisting with sampling activities, and communicate with external collaborators.

  • Communicate project objectives, plans, and outcomes to stewards, managers, and the restoration community by producing written documents and providing oral presentations. 

  • Organize data for analysis, and as time allows, collaborate in analysis.

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:  Bachelor’s degree or comparable experience in botany, ecology, or restoration required, Master’s degree preferred. 2+ years of field experience in botanical or soils-based field work required, with strong experience in plant identification, DNA-based fungal community assessments, and/or soil analysis. Strong communication skills required; prior experience working with volunteers and restoration practitioners preferred. Creativity and a highly organized and enthusiastic personality are required. Familiarity with handling structured data (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, statistical data structures) required. Must possess a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report.

Success Factors:  Strong collaboration, organizational, and project management skills with the ability to manage multiple simultaneous deadlines. Excellent public service attitude and genuine enthusiasm for working with the public. Professional demeanor with strong ethical standards and ability to adapt to change. Good written and oral communication skills. Self-motivated learner and ability to solve problems with minimal supervision. Ability to work indoors and outdoors under occasional strenuous conditions. Ability to travel independently via car for field work. Ability to work independently. 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 significant physical activity: limited lifting and carrying (up to 30 lbs.), bending, pushing, pulling, walking over varied terrain. Local and regional travel required. Ability to use tools for field collections. Use of chemicals necessary.  

  • Work Environment: Work is performed in a combined indoors, outdoors and off-site locations. 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 botany and soil science equipment and instruments, hand and power tools, Arboretum pick-up truck and/or utility vehicle.

  • Schedule: Position may require some evening and weekend hours.

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

All Arboretum employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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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