Postdoctoral Researcher (Amsonia)

Requisition Number: 
Plant Science and Conservation
Job Status: 
Reports to: 
Associate Conservation Scientist
field/research assistant, REU participants
We seek to hire a postdoctoral researcher to help in leading a project assessing pollination, reproductive biology, population genetics/genomics, and phylogenomics. The ideal applicant is a motivated, independent researcher with strong analytic and communication skills, a commitment to learning new skills, and shares our interests in applying these skills to questions related to conservation of biodiversity. We hope that this position will provide an opportunity for a postdoc to use and extend existing skills, as well and acquire new ones that contribute to meeting the applicant’s career goals. This is a full-time position, working Monday through Friday. The position is funded for three years. Review of applications begins March 8, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled. The ideal start date for the position is spring 2021. In addition to the Chicago Botanic Garden application materials, please submit the following: • A cover letter that includes a statement of why you are interested in this, briefly outlines relevant experience, and describes how it will further your career goals, • A CV • Contact information for three references (can be included at end of CV). Contact Krissa Skogen at with any questions.

The objective of this project is to assess the extent to which Tharp’s bluestar, Amsonia tharpii (Apocynaceae), is impacted by land use change (habitat fragmentation and loss) associated with the recent expansion of the Permian Basin Pipeline under development in southeast New Mexico and adjacent west Texas. Amsonia tharpii is endemic to this region, and it is suspected that plant reproduction and genetic diversity may be negatively impacted by oil and gas development. Critical to these efforts is a better understanding of the phylogenetic relationships within the genus Amsonia, which will determine the extent to which A. tharpii is genetically distinct from other taxa. Importantly, this work will inform the federal endangered species listing process and will determine best practices for federal agencies to use in developing buffer zones and other management approaches to limit impact on Tharp's bluestar and its pollinators.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

The postdoc will be responsible for the following: 

  • Leading field and lab work (using high-throughput sequencing techniques including RADseq and HybSeq), analyzing data, and writing scientific manuscripts and reports.
  • Working with key personnel and land managers to coordinate project activities
  • Training and mentoring field assistants, interns, volunteers, and students, as agreed upon with adviser (e.g., Research Experiences for Undergraduates, as part of the Chicago Garden's REU program)

 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 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.

The ideal applicant will have a Ph.D. in botany, ecology, evolutionary biology, or a related field and relevant experience in some of the following areas:

  • Next generation sequencing techniques and analyses for assessing population genetic parameters and target enrichment datasets
  • Pollination biology and floral trait data collection and associated botanical inventory
  • Data analysis and programming languages (R, Python, etc.), familiarity with Unix-based operating systems, and experience interacting with high-performance computing resources
  • Writing scientific manuscripts and/or reports
  • Mentoring early-career scientists (undergraduates, interns, etc.)

Experience with pollination biology and floral trait data collection and associated botanical inventory is desired but can be learned. Experience with the analysis of high-throughput sequencing data is preferred, but note that we are committed to providing an experience in which the successful candidate learns and masters new skills that will help further their career.

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 must be able to work in field, lab, and office settings. Much of the fieldwork will be conducted in outdoor settings and harsh conditions such as high sun exposure, extreme heat, and wind, and will include long periods of standing or walking on rough, uneven ground and will include overnight camping. Successful applicants are expected to work long days in the field to accomplish goals during the field season (commonly ~3 weeks). Applicant must be able to lift equipment weighing up to 20 pounds. The applicant must have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record.
March 8, 2021
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, and 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.