Postdoctoral Researcher (Plants of Concern)

Requisition Number: 
Plant Science
Job Status: 
We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to lead data-analysis projects using a unique, long-term dataset on rare plant populations to answer timely questions in population ecology and conservation. The dataset is from a community science project called Plants of Concern (POC), a project of the Chicago Botanic Garden. We are seeking a motivated, independent researcher with strong analytical skills. The postdoc will lead data analysis, as well as interpretation of results and manuscript preparation. Monitoring data include counts across multiple years, starting in the year 2000. The position is funded for two years. The successful candidate will be based at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and will join a group of enthusiastic scientists focused on addressing key conservation challenges and furthering public engagement with conservation through community science. The ideal start date for the position is September 2020, but the start date is flexible.

Plants of Concern is a collaboration among citizen scientists, natural resource managers, and researchers to collect data on rare plant populations in the Chicago region. Our goal is to uncover the best conservation practices to protect these rare species, while creating awareness and providing education about why their conservation matters.

The postdoc will be advised by Amy Iler, Ph.D. ( ). POC, which was established in 2000, has long-term data for more than 280 rare plant species and 1100 populations in the Chicago region, and these data offer opportunities for asking questions about rare plant population ecology and conservation, including effects of different management techniques on plant population dynamics (prescribed burning, invasive species removal, etc.).


Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Conduct statistical analyses on long-term data count of rare plants, in addition to population modeling, using the R Environment for Statistical Computing.
  • Develop clear, engaging data visualizations for use in publications, presentations, and the popular press (magazine articles, blog posts, etc.).
  • Lead writing and preparation of scientific publications arising from analyses.
  • Participate in fieldwork as needed and as desired.
  • Train and mentor interns, volunteers, and students as agreed upon with advisor (e.g., Research Experiences for Undergraduates [REU] students at part of the 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.

Our ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Ph.D. in ecology or a related field.
  • Ideally, the candidate will have experience working with long-term datasets, data cleaning, data manipulation, and analysis of multiple data types.
  • Experience analyzing population dynamics using count data or experience with other types of demographic analyses (IPMs, Matrix Models, PVAs, etc.).
  • Familiarity with GIS and geospatial analysis is a bonus.
  • Ideally, the applicant will share the projects’ interests in rare plants and human impacts on the environment.
Physical Demands: 
This position will be based at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The majority of time for this position will be spent analyzing data. However, there are also multiple opportunities for fieldwork associated with this project.
Review of applications begins April 1, 2020, and will continue until filled.
Why Apply?: 

To apply, go to In addition to the Garden application materials, please submit a cover letter that includes a statement of why you are interested in this position and how it will further your career goals, a CV, and contact information for three references (can be included at end of CV).  Review of applications begins April 1, 2020, and will continue until suitable candidates are hired.  Contact Amy Iler at with any questions.

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.

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.