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Senior Scientific Specialist, Aquatic Ecology

Expiration Date: 

The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) investigates and documents the biological resources of Illinois and other areas, and acquires and provides natural history information that can be used to promote the common understanding, conservation, and management of these resources. INHS is part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

INHS is seeking an Aquatic Ecologist to oversee the Lake Michigan shoreline biomonitoring project and assist with other fisheries and ecology work at the Lake Michigan Biological Station (LMBS). This position will be located in Zion, IL.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Oversee and coordinate Lake Michigan shoreline biomonitoring project.
  • Ensure grant obligations are met in a timely manner.
  • Conduct and assist with other research projects on fisheries issues and/or aquatic ecology.
  • Participate in data collection, data verification, data analysis, and report writing.
  • Prepare research proposals and disseminate research findings through presentations at professional meetings, technical report writing, and publishing in peer-reviewed publications.
  • Manage and analyze research and monitoring data and provide management recommendations to funding agencies, collaborators, and other interested parties.
  • Supervise, mentor, and lead hourly staff to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels. This includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance management with coaching and feedback, and travel approval.
  • Ensure facilities and equipment, including boats, trailers, and sampling gear are properly utilized and maintained.
  • Perform other duties in order to further the mission and goals of the Survey, PRI, and the University of Illinois.
  • Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.

Required Qualifications:

Master’s degree in Ecology, Biology, Environmental Science or related field. Alternate degree fields will be considered depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position. Experience with fieldwork and laboratory protocols, techniques, and equipment used by fisheries scientists and ecologists. Experience in data collection and processing of fish chronometric structures, statistical analysis of fisheries and aquatic ecology data, and dissemination of scientific results. Substantial experience operating boats on large bodies of water in a variety of weather and wave conditions. Experience in data analysis and dissemination of scientific results. Experience in staff supervision, and substantial experience conducting ecological research in team situations. Valid Driver’s License.

Preferred Qualifications:

Experience with habitat-related work is preferred – characterizing aquatic habitat, habitat use by fish/ aquatic invertebrates as well as experience with GIS delineation and mapping. Boater safety, MOCC training, First-Aid and CPR Training, Red Cross, SCUBA, or other swim certification preferred.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Skilled in the identification and ecology of zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, and fish of the Great Lakes region. Proficiency in commonly-employed software and databases. The ability to swim is required.

Environmental Demands:

Overnight travel may be necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of this position. Will require working in adverse field conditions (heat, humidity, biting insects, cold, etc.), travel (including driving to and from research sites) throughout the state of Illinois. Position involves lifting and carrying equipment weighing up to 50 lbs. The work of this position also takes place in an office and lab setting as well as the field. The office component is sedentary and involves remaining in a stationary position for extended periods of time working at a computer, using a keyboard and mouse, and using repetitive hand motions.

Proposed Start Date: Negotiable. Preferred not later than March 2021

Salary: The minimum salary for this position is $45,000

Appointment Status: This is a regular full-time academic professional appointment, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position, and continued funding.

To Apply: Please complete your candidate profile at and upload a cover letter, CV/resume, and the contact information for three professional references by December 18, 2020. Interviews may be conducted before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after that date. All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered.

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. The University of Illinois System requires candidates selected for hire to disclose any documented finding of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and to authorize inquiries to current and former employers regarding findings of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. For more information, visit “Policy on Consideration of Sexual Misconduct in Prior Employment. As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility.