Job Openings >> Research Biologist & Instructor – Aquatic Invasive Species
Research Biologist & Instructor – Aquatic Invasive Species
Title:Research Biologist & Instructor – Aquatic Invasive Species
Department:Conservation Research

Application deadline: 

  • Applications will be reviewed from 15 June 2019 onwards; open until filled.                                             

Annual research budget: 

  • Up to $20,000


The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, is seeking candidates for a Research Biologist and Instructor position. Specifically, we are interested in a candidate who will be responsible for developing a robust research program focusing on understanding how aquatic invasive species are influencing inshore native fish communities in the Great Lakes, as well as instructing a college-level course in Freshwater Ecology.

The position is expected to contribute to the Haerther Center’s Freshwater Conservation Research Program goals to understand how human activities are affecting freshwater biodiversity in the Great Lakes region and how public engagement and restoration initiatives can reverse these declines. The Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species program is expected to have an applied research focus, providing resource managers with pertinent information that can be used to support native species conservation and mitigate the effects of invasive species. Additionally, the program is expected to be framed in a narrative that is accessible, inspiring, and meaningful to the general public, such to increase public awareness about key conservation issues. The Research Biologist is expected to work closely with diverse stakeholder groups (i.e., state and federal fisheries agencies, other NGOs, and academic institutions) and maximize education and outreach opportunities, both within and outside of Shedd, to ensure a strong return on investment and mission.

The position will be supported by of a budget of up to $20,000 per year and will report to the Director of Freshwater Research. A large proportion of job performance will be judged on the ability to manage an applied aquatic research program that adheres to the conservation priorities of the aquarium, and regularly publishes results in peer-reviewed journals. 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.

In addition to maintaining a research program focused on Aquatic Invasive Species in the Great Lakes, the Research Biologists will be responsible for instructing a 3 or 4-credit college course in Freshwater Ecology within the fall semester (mid-September to end of October, yearly). Responsibilities include acting as a liaison between the sending schools within the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, updating curricula as needed, planning associated local field trips, lectures, guest speakers, and assessments.

Duties & Responsibilities:
  • Demonstrate commitment to Shedd’s vision, mission and values.
  • Conduct robust, applied research that advances species and ecosystem conservation.
  • Publish high-quality, applied research in areas of institutional priority.
  • Develop and manage an independent research program and budget.
  • Successfully create and maintain formal and informal collaborations with external research groups and institutions needed to advance mutual conservation research goals.
  • Serve as a subject matter expert at the aquarium for issues related to Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species.
  • Successfully instruct and promote the Freshwater Ecology college course yearly.
  • Participate on aquarium teams, committees (e.g. Research Committee, Strategic Planning Committees), and other workgroups.
  • Other Duties as assigned.



  • A Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology, Fisheries Management, Conservation Biology, Ecology, or related field.

Experience and Skills:

  • Expertise in fisheries biology, fisheries conservation, or fisheries management
  • Minimum 3 years of experience developing and leading research projects.
  • A track record of excellent oral and written communication skills and productivity.
  • Legal status for employment in the USA.
  • Excellent research and quantitative skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to publish in peer-reviewed disciplinary journals.
  • 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.

Preferred Skills:

  • Three or more years’ experience in freshwater fishes and/or Great Lakes research
  • Ability to think creatively about links between aquatic conservation issues, places, and people.
  • Experience working with conservation communities as evidenced by participation in working groups, consultations, or advisory positions.
  • Experience working with policy and advocacy players to apply science to conservation policy issues.
  • Previous teaching experience at the undergraduate level.
  • Build a leadership reputation with the broader research community through peer-reviewed publication, seminars, and conference presentations (1 – 2 of each per year).
  • Engage the public through some mixture of citizen science, volunteer conservation action, social media, social engagement, formal teaching, and interviews.
  • Engage the conservation community through participation in working groups, consultations, or advisory positions.
  • Teach a college-level course in Freshwater Ecology
  • Successfully work with other divisions within the aquarium (Marketing, Communications, Development, Policy and Advocacy).
  • Solicit funding opportunities and write grants to support research programs.

To Apply:

  • Please submit a curriculum vitae and a cover letter (maximum length 1000 words) summarizing your background, research experience, and research interests.
  • A brief synopsis of research ideas for the Aquatic Invasive Species program focusing on effects to inshore native fish communities within the Great Lakes proper (e.g., Lake Michigan), addressing applied questions for the region (maximum length 1000 words).
  • PDFs of two papers/manuscripts.
  • Names and contact information for three references.
  • Information on salary requirements must be included for the application to be considered complete.

To formally apply, please send all the above requested information to Human Resources by clicking the ‘Apply for this Job’ button.  If you have questions regarding the application, please email 

To discuss the specifics of this position contact Dr. Karen J. Murchie (

About the Employer:

In the mid-1920’s, John G. Shedd, a successful Chicago businessman, wanted to give back to the city in which he had risen from a stock boy to president of Marshall Field & Company, a leading department store chain. Because every great city in the United States and Europe had a fine aquarium, he decided that Chicago should have the biggest. The new Shedd combined the best of early 20th-century “age of aquariums” characteristics — a diverse, global animal collection surrounded by eye-popping architecture — with advances in animal care, environments, and interpretation.

A nonprofit organization dedicated to animal care and welfare, conservation research and public education, Shedd is known today as “The World’s Aquarium.” Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, Shedd is home to nearly 32,000 aquatic animals representing more than 1,500 species of fishes, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from waters around the world.

A vital learning resource, scientific contributor and conservation champion, the Aquarium each year welcomes approximately 2 million guests including a quarter-million students from elementary and secondary schools. Shedd is one of the most-attended aquariums in the United States, and is the top-attended paid cultural institution in Chicago. It continues to be a popular family destination for tourists and a powerful source of economic activity for the city.

Of its annual visitors, approximately 40 percent reside in the greater Chicago area, another 48 percent come from the rest of the U.S., and 12 percent represent international visitors. Shedd runs an annual budget of $55 million, including a payroll of $19 million covering 268 full-time employees and 227 part-time and temporary employees. In 2014, Shedd’s economic impact through employment, tourism and local spending exceeded $100 million.

Conservation Science and Research. The biologists and conservation scientists in Shedd’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research perform field work in both the Great Lakes and Caribbean regions.  As responsible stewards of the animals in its care, Shedd is committed to conserving species and ecosystems through research that increases knowledge, informs policy, enhances livelihoods and inspires public visitors to become environmental champions.


We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team.

If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

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