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Research Coordinator, Experimental Prairie

The Morton Arboretum
Zip Code: 
Fields of study: 
Biology / Pharma
Environment / Agriculture
Geo sciences
Employment type: 
Full time
Years of experience: 
0 - 2 years
Required degree level: 
Bachelors degree
Hearing Accommodations
Remote Position: 
Job Expiration Date: 

Position Summary: 

Coordinate laboratory and field operations with staff, students, postdocs and external collaborators for an experimental prairie restoration experiment at The Morton Arboretum as part of a National Science Foundation grant, “Impacts of plants and communities on soil microbial composition and function across phylogenetic scales.” Funding for this position is temporary with an expected duration through May 2024.

Essential Functions:

  • Conduct and coordinate research activities in the laboratory and field in order to meet assigned research goals, including coordinating field sampling weeks with external collaborators. Plan and implement research methods and procedures, and adapt and update as necessary to meet project objectives and deadlines.

  • Perform assigned research activities. Conduct all experiment maintenance, including weeding, supplemental planting, and seasonal maintenance of the site.

  • Collect root and soil samples from the experimental prairie and restored prairies.

  • Conduct root trait analyses and soil biological, chemical, and physical analyses in the laboratory.

  • Collaborate with PI and other collaborating scientists in collecting coverage (vegetation) data at least twice during the growing season.

  • Collect biomass on plug plots and, if time allows, seed plots at the end of the growing season.

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

  • 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, herbaceous root trait characterization, and/or soil analysis. 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: Organizational and collaboration skills are needed to work with researchers to learn methods and execute projects efficiently. 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 and lab work. Ability to work independently. Ability to embrace and operate in line with our employee core values to 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, some local and regional travel. 

  • Work Environment: Work is performed in both indoor and outdoor settings, in all weather conditions. 

  • Equipment: Horticulture hand and power tools, wheelbarrow, Arboretum van or truck, utility vehicle, two-way radio, general office equipment.

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

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. 

The Morton Arboretum is a magnificent outdoor museum with a mission to collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment. Our goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. The Arboretum ranks among the leading arboretums of the world in size, age, quality of specimens, and programs in Plant Collections, Science and Conservation, and Education.

History:  Established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company and son of J. Sterling Morton, the originator of Arbor Day, the Arboretum has grown to include 1,700 acres of plant collections and gardens amid spectacular natural landscapes of woodlands, prairie, lakes, and streams.

Plant Collections:  The Arboretum grows and displays a rich diversity of trees, shrubs, and other plants that are Collections evaluated for their suitability for the midwestern United States. These living collections include 222,000 plant specimens representing 4,650 different kinds of plants. Arranged by geographic, taxonomic, and other special groupings, the collections are enhanced by restored natural areas of native plants.

Science and Conservation:  The Research Program focuses on practical scientific studies; key areas include tree health, tree Conservation improvement, and woodland conservation. Housed in the state-of-the-art Research Center is a Herbarium with a collection of 200,000 dried specimens for botanical research. The Chicago Region Trees Initiative develops strategies for tree and urban forest improvement; the Community Trees program advocates for trees in 274 communities in seven counties. ArbNet, facilitated by The Morton Arboretum, is an interactive professional community of arboreta with programs to foster advancements among tree-focused gardens. Science and conservation initiatives address international needs to build partnerships and save endangered trees.

Education:  The Education Program is relevant to needs and interests in learning about plants, nature, and ways to improve our world. Through the Thornhill Education Center, classes and other offerings for adults, youth and family, and schools and scouts serve 47,000 participants, with 646 schools partaking of field, lab, and outreach programs. Also available are teacher-training resources and a cooperative botany degree program with regional colleges and universities. The Sterling Morton Library contains collections of 27,000 volumes on botany, horticulture, natural history, and ecology; rare books, periodicals, and catalogs; and 12,000 botanical artworks. The Plant Clinic answers inquiries from 536 zip codes about plant selection and care. 

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