Job Openings >> Research Biologist – Urban Freshwater Conservation
Research Biologist – Urban Freshwater Conservation
Title:Research Biologist – Urban Freshwater Conservation
Department:Conservation Research

Application Deadline: Applications will be reviewed from 3 July 2018 onwards, open until filled.
Annual Research Budget: Up to $20,000.


John G. Shedd Aquarium’s Haerther Center for Conservation Research is recruiting a Research Biologist specializing in Urban Freshwater Conservation to join our team. Candidates should have both the desire and the experience to be a Principal Investigator, and to develop a research program and develop supporting projects and analyses. Preference will be given to candidates that specialize in urban conservation issues and whose projects can inform resource managers, and advance conservation and stewardship practices impacting the Great Lakes region.

This position is expected to support the Haerther Center’s freshwater program goals through an independent research program focused on urban freshwater ecology. 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. Examples of research directions that align with our goals might include; 1) the ecological impacts of urbanization or urban attributes on native fish and mussels, 2) evaluating the efficacy of management/restoration efforts and how they may be adapted to better meet conservation objectives, or 3) supporting Federal, State, municipal, or local stakeholders efforts to mitigate or enhance urban aquatic environments.

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 publish 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.

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 urban freshwater conservation and research.
  • Participate on aquarium teams, committees (e.g. Research Committee, Strategic Planning Committees), and other workgroups.
  • Other duties as assigned.


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

Experience and Skills:

  • Familiarity with urban freshwater conservation issues relevant to the Great Lakes region.
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience developing and leading research projects.
  • A track record of oral and written communication skills to convey science to the news media and public in a compelling fashion.
  • Legal status for employment in the USA.
  • Excellent research and quantitative skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to publish in peer-reviewed disciplinary journals.
  • 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:

  • Ability to think creatively about links between conservation issues, places, and people.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience developing and leading research projects.
  • Experience working with conservation community as evidenced by participation in working groups, consultations, or advisory positions.
  • Experience successfully writing grant proposals for public or private research funding.
  • Experience working with policy and advocacy players.

Performance Expectations:

  • 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 a 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.
  • 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 an urban ecology research program addressing applied questions for the Great lakes 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. Andrew F. Casper (

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.

This opening is closed and is no longer accepting applications
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