Job Openings >> Research Biologist – Marine Mesopredator Conservation
Research Biologist – Marine Mesopredator Conservation
Title:Research Biologist – Marine Mesopredator Conservation
Department:Conservation Research
Application deadline: Applications will be reviewed from 1 March 2018 onwards, open until filled.
Annual research budget: Up to $20,000, with additional dedicated and opportunistic uses of Shedd’s 80-foot research vessel, Coral Reef II.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, is seeking candidates for a Research Biologist to focus on Marine Mesopredator Ecology in The Bahamas and Caribbean. Specifically, we are interested in a candidate who will be responsible for developing a robust research program focusing on grouper and snapper species. Preference will be given to candidates that focus on abundance, spatial ecology, reproduction, and population dynamics. Research is expected to be multifaceted, inform resource managers, and advance conservation and sustainable practices. The Research Biologist is expected to work closely with in-country government bodies to ensure the program is holistic and inclusive.

The Research Biologist is expected to use approaches that may include 1) conducting research to determine the biological requirements critical for species and habitats, 2) evaluating the efficacy of current species management efforts and analyzing how management may be adapted to better meet conservation objectives, and 3) partner with in-country stakeholders so that they have a greater role in studying, assessing, and managing their resources. Research involvement with other Shedd departments (e.g. Animal Health, Husbandry) is advantageous. The Research Biologist is also expected to participate in relevant workshops, present seminars at various venues, and to publish their data in a timely fashion.

The position requires the ability to develop multi-investigator collaborations that conduct, support and/or promote marine conservation research and departmental goals. Thus, 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.

The Research Biologist is expected to assist with an undergraduate marine ecology course. This 4-credit course is taught annually at the aquarium in the spring semester and culminates with a field research experience in The Bahamas. Responsibilities include assisting with curriculum development, lectures, and facilitation of the field experience.

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 Marine Mesopredator 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:


  • Expertise in marine conservation, applied aquatic ecology, or fish conservation.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience developing and leading research projects.
  • A track record of excellent oral and written communication skills and productivity.
  • SCUBA certification is required.
  • 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 tropical/sub-tropical marine 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 in order to apply science to conservation policy issues.

  • Previous teaching experience at the undergraduate level.

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).
  • Serve as expedition leader on dedicated research cruises aboard Shedd’s research vessel, Coral Reef II.
  • 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.
  • 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 a Mesopredator research program addressing applied questions for The Bahamas and Caribbean region (maximum length 1000 words).
  • 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.

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


To discuss the specifics of this position contact Dr. Steven T. Kessel (


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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