Postdoctoral Researcher – Urban Ecology

Requisition Number: 
Conservation Science
Job Status: 
Reports to: 
Conservation Scientist
REU participants, community scientists/volunteers
We seek to hire a postdoctoral researcher to work at the Chicago Botanic Garden in partnership with the Nature Conservancy to harvest and map open-sourced community science data submitted through Budburst and iNaturalist applications in Cook and Lake Counties (IL), as well as existing collections data from local herbaria and animal collections. This project has two major goals: determining how the ecological community context (e.g. proximity to natural areas or open space, land management, percent tree cover, etc.); and the human community context (particularly socio-economic differences, historically red-lined communities, etc.) affect patterns of plant and animal biodiversity and participation in community science related to biodiversity mapping.

This project builds on the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Chicago EcoFlora Budburst project and TNC’s Greenprint and BAILA (Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles) and Green Heart (KY) projects. It will increase knowledge about the role of urban green space as refugia for plant and animal species, identify key landscape features that coincide with species presence, and provide data to effectively enhance biodiversity across the area, as well as provide insights into encouraging engagement of historically-excluded populations in community science.

The project focuses on the following goals:

1) Harvest and map biodiversity data in Cook and Lake Counties from iNaturalist, Budburst, and regional herbaria/museum collections

2) Identify areas with lower sampling effort and develop/deliver 20-25 tailored engagement events in the seven regional communities that have the fewest observations

3) Complete reports on the status of biodiversity in those seven communities for use with their local government officials

4) Produce comprehensive Greenprint biodiversity maps and associated analyses for Cook and Lake Counties to be used for future green infrastructure planning.

The position is funded for two years. Review of applications begins May 1, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled. The ideal start date for the position is in summer 2021. The successful candidate will be based at the Chicago Botanic Garden (possibly working remotely initially due to COVID public health guidelines) and will join a group of enthusiastic scientists focused on addressing key conservation challenges and furthering public engagement with conservation through community science.

To apply, visit In addition to the Chicago Botanic Garden application materials, please submit:

  • a cover letter that includes a statement of why you are interested in this position, outlines relevant experience, and describes how it will further your career goals,
  • a diversity statement,
  • a C.V., and
  • contact information for three references (can be included at end of C.V.).

Contact Kayri Havens at or Sophie Taddeo at with any questions.


Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Leading fieldwork and GIS work to meet project goals
  • Working with Chicago Botanica Garden and the Nature Conservancy staff to conduct targeted engagement activities
  • Training and mentoring community scientists/volunteers and students working on the project
  • Developing reports and other products for disseminating results

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired:

  • Communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style; builds alliances.
  • Has a tolerance for opposing points of view.
  • Strives for collaboration. Works cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and shows kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Makes decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; is flexible, and embraces change with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Is self-aware; knows personal strengths and weaknesses; seeks feedback and is open to negative feedback as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Is cool under pressure; can be counted on to hold things together during tough times; can handle stress; is not knocked off balance by the unexpected; is a settling influence during a crisis.
  • Recognizes problems, constructively identifies and articulates solutions.
  • Picks up garbage on Garden grounds when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Is welcoming of new hires.

Our ideal candidate will have the following:

A Ph.D. in urban ecology or a related field and relevant experience in some or all the following areas:

  • GIS analysis, particularly using community science and collections data
  • Work in urban areas with a variety of stakeholders
  • Mentoring community scientists and students
  • Writing scientific manuscripts and/or reports
  • Community engagement or organizing experience preferred
Physical Demands: 
We are committed to providing an inclusive experience through this position and are open to adapting, accommodating, and discussing these physical demands. The applicant should be able to work in urban field, lab, and office settings. Fieldwork will be conducted in outdoor settings and harsh conditions such as high sun exposure, heat, and wind, and long periods of standing or walking on rough, uneven ground are possible. Office time with long periods of computer work are also possible. Applicant should be able to lift equipment weighing up to 20 pounds. The applicant must have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record.
Why Apply?: 

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a M/F, Disabled, and Vet EEO/AA Employer.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, or basis of disability, or any other federal, state, or local protected class.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call (847) 835-8264 to contact our Title IX coordinator should you have questions or concerns.