Job Openings >> Director, Freshwater Research
Director, Freshwater Research
Title:Director, Freshwater Research
Department:Conservation Research

Reporting to the Vice President of Conservation Research, the Director of Freshwater Research contributes to the strategic direction of, and provides management for, the Aquarium’s Freshwater Research Program focusing on the Great Lakes region. Biologists within the Freshwater Research Program conduct applied research addressing the conservation and management of freshwater species and habitats focused in the Great Lakes region.

Primary responsibilities for the director position include implementing and evaluating scientific research initiatives and programs that support the Aquarium’s programmatic and conservation priorities. Responsibilities also include conducting applied and publishable research that adheres to the priorities of the Aquarium, while also supervising a PhD-level scientific team (3-4 staff) to ensure rigor, accuracy and timeliness of all freshwater research projects.


This position also serves as an institutional resource for content and communications to advance appropriate science and conservation messages through the Aquarium’s many outreach channels. The position requires the ability to facilitate and develop multi-institutional collaborations that conduct, support and/or promote freshwater conservation research. In addition, this position works with the Aquarium development team to generate resources necessary to fund conservation research programs.


The broad objectives for the Director of Freshwater Research are as follows:

  • Demonstrate professionalism in accordance with Shedd’s mission and values.

  • Oversee administration and management of the Freshwater Research Program, including setting goals, preparing annual budgets and reporting results.

  • Oversee the Freshwater Research team and performance of individual team members. Work with individual researchers to ensure rigor, accuracy, timeliness, and goal completion.

  • Manage individual research budget and research program logistics.

  • Conduct high-quality, applied research in areas of institutional priority.

  • Serve as the Aquarium’s principal point of contact for issues related to freshwater conservation science and research, and be responsible for ensuring scientific accuracy of Aquarium products and messages.

  • Successfully create and maintain formal and informal collaborations with other research groups and institutions to advance mutual conservation research goals.

  • Participate on Aquarium teams, committees (e.g. Research Committee, Strategic Planning Committees), and other workgroups.

  • Participate in institution-wide short- and long-range planning through membership on teams and other workgroups.

  • In consultation with the VP of Conservation Research, interview, select and train new hires.

  • In consultation with the VP of Conservation Research and other Aquarium leaders, help promote and raise profile of Aquarium research programs and outcomes through peer reviewed and general audience publications, presentations/seminars, reports, and other media.

  • Actively work with Aquarium marketing and communications to maximize visibility of the Aquarium’s conservation science work through news media, social media and other public outreach channels.

  • Work with the Aquarium’s Development team to draft grant proposals and secure research funds.

  • Other duties as assigned.



  • Applicants must hold a Ph.D. in biology, ecology, zoology, or other environmental science fields.

  • Minimum 4 years of experience establishing, managing, and administering research projects, partnerships, multiparty collaborations, or networks, including implementing requirements for transparency and availability of research results.

  • Minimum 4 years of experience in program administration, including personnel and budget management, short- and long-term goals setting, program development and evaluation.

  • Experience working with policy and advocacy players in order to apply science to conservation policy solutions.

Preferably, the candidate will have a minimum of 4 years’ experience for the responsibilities stated above in the Great Lakes region.



  • Excellent leadership skills with experience in successfully leading and monitoring a work group to achieve desired results.

  • Demonstrated ability to create and lead motivated and effective teams as well as work with colleagues in a team-oriented environment.

  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills with ability to convey science to the public in a compelling fashion.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills with demonstrated ability to work effectively with a very diverse audience, including but not limited to Aquarium staff and volunteers, visitors, members of the public, academic colleagues, donors and board members.

  • Experience and comfort speaking to the news media. Experience writing grant proposals and successfully competing for public and/or private research funding.


To apply: Please submit a cover letter (maximum length 1000 words) summarizing:

  • Your background, management experience, and research interests;

  • A curriculum vitae;

  • A brief synopsis of research ideas addressing applied research questions for freshwater systems in the Great Lakes region (maximum length 500 words); and

  • PDFs of two papers/manuscripts.

  • Names and contact information for three references.

  • Information on salary requirements must be included in order for the application to be considered complete.

The letter, CV, and reference information should be sent to Megan Rachal (


To discuss the specifics of this position contact Dr. Chuck Knapp (


This opening is closed and is no longer accepting applications
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