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Assistant Research Scientist, Large River Ecology - INHS/PRI

University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois, US
Closing date
Aug 27, 2022

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Academic / Research
Informatics / GIS
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
Assistant Research Scientist, Large River Ecology - INHS/PRI

Illinois Natural History Survey

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. To learn more visit

The Illinois Natural History Survey's (INHS) Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) is one of six stations of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program's Long Term Resource Monitoring element (LTRM), funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and administered by the United States Geological Survey's Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Staff here also coordinate the Long Term Survey and Assessment of Large River Fishes in Illinois (LTEF) on the Illinois River Waterway and select pools on the Upper Mississippi River, black carp research on the La Grange Reach of the Illinois River, invasive carp monitoring in backwaters of the Peoria Reach of the Illinois River, fish and vegetation monitoring and research at the Emiquon Preserve, and aid in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources ongoing management of bighead and silver carps. The need for flexible research and monitoring of water quality, native and invasive species is the scientific foundation of IRBS.

INHS is seeking a Large River Ecologist who will serve as coordinator for the aquatic macroinvertebrate component of the LTRM, an element of the UMRR. This position will coordinate field collection of benthic and colonizer macroinvertebrate communities among 6 LTRM field stations in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, manage a lab responsible for identifying and enumerating aquatic macroinvertebrate taxa, monitor the status and trends of macroinvertebrates in the UMR, synthesize and analyze long-term data and communicate scientific findings through reports and scientific publications. Additional research into other areas of study related to aquatic macroinvertebrates and large river ecology will be encouraged. Funding for these efforts is made available through long-term agreements with US Army Corps of Engineers and The US Geological Survey. This position is located in Havana, Illinois.

Job Summary
Administer research activities of the Survey by developing, planning, directing, and conducting basic and applied research for the aquatic macroinvertebrate component of the Long-Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRM), an element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program (UMRR).

Duties & ResponsibilitiesResearch • Serve as field crew leader/coordinator for the Macroinvertebrate component of the LTRM, an element of the UMRR. • Collect and report on macroinvertebrate data utilizing the LTRM sampling protocols and focused research. • Coordinate benthic and colonizer macroinvertebrate sampling across the 6 LTRM field stations, lead a team responsible for sorting and identifying macroinvertebrate samples, and facilitate collaboration between other potential research facets of the project (e.g., contaminant analysis, genetic analysis, emergent traps, microplastics). • Develop or leverage existing Macroinvertebrate Biological Indices for application across the Upper Mississippi River trend pools. • Conduct ecological statistical analyses, including coding, univariate and multivariate techniques, data visualization, time-series analysis, and ecological modeling especially pertaining to macroinvertebrate data (chemical, hydraulic/hydrologic, temporal-spatial). • Explore, mine, and synthesize historic macroinvertebrate data from the LTRM program • Coordination and collaboration with other related projects (fisheries, limnological, and hydrological) Research - Data Analysis & Reporting
• Provide necessary information to public constituents, research associates, and collaborating research agencies.
• Create and maintain databases for various projects conducted at the Illinois River Biological Station.
• Analyze data files to ensure quality control and assurance.
• Archive, organize and manage data files ensuring historical data is protected for future use in natural history and management research.
• Contribute to the development of project reports to granting agencies for Illinois and Mississippi river projects.
• Distribute final project reports to granting agency, INHS, and PRI.
• Provide recommendations to funding agencies, collaborators, and other interested parties.
• Assemble data to be utilized in technical reports to granting agencies and peer-reviewed publications.
• Lead and assist with the preparation of manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications as well as presentations for professional meetings. Administrative
• Supervise full and part- time assistants in lab work, as well as crews in boat-based field sampling efforts.
• Supervise, train, and lead hourly workers to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels.
• Ensure marine safety protocols are followed and enforced.
• Prioritize, organize, and plan to ensure projects move forward in a timely manner.
• Coordinate field sampling schedules including identifying sampling locations, completion of equipment inventory for each trip, and safety inspection of marine craft. Research - Outreach
• Work with lay community to engender positive feedback regarding scientific research
• Coordinate and cooperate with the Survey, PRI, University of Illinois, and other groups.
• Attend local, regional, national, and international conferences
• Represent the Survey, PRI, the University, and other state and federal agencies on professional and interagency committees associated with river ecology and fisheries
• Represent the Survey, PRI, and the University on search committees and outreach activities Other
• Trailer, operate, and navigate watercraft to sampling sites on commercially navigable waters when necessary
• Perform other duties as needed to further the mission and goals of INHS, PRI, and the University of Illinois.
• Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.Physical DemandsStanding : Frequently Walking : Frequently Stairs : Occasionally Sitting : Frequently Lifting/Carrying : Occasionally Pushing/Pulling : Occasionally Climbing : Occasionally Balancing : Occasionally Bending/Stooping : Occasionally Kneeling : Occasionally Squatting/Crouching : Occasionally Crawling : Rarely Reaching : Occasionally Grip/Dexterity : Occasionally Twisting : Occasionally Talking : Frequently Hearing : Frequently Repetitive Motions : Frequently Eye/Hand/Foot Coordination : Frequently Visual Acuity : Frequently Running/Jumping : Occasionally Physical Exertion : Occasionally Physical Restraining : Rarely Operating Heavy Machinery/Equipment : Occasionally Additional Physical 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 and neighboring states bordering the Upper Mississippi River; lift and carry equipment weighing up to 50 lbs. The work of this position also takes place in an office 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.

Working ConditionsExtreme cold : Occasionally Extreme heat : Occasionally Humidity : Occasionally Wet : Occasionally Noise : Occasionally Hazards : Occasionally Fumes/Particles/Allergens : Occasionally Toxic, Caustic Chemicals : Occasionally Temperature Changes : Occasionally Inclement Weather : Occasionally Heights : Rarely Work Outdoors : Occasionally Tight Spaces : Occasionally Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) : Occasionally Dangerous Machinery/Equipment : Rarely Minimum Qualifications
Master's degree in Biology, Aquatic Ecology, Statistics or ecological statistics or related field. Alternate degree fields will be considered depending on the nature and depth of the experience at it relates to this position. Master's degree with a minimum of 5 years of experience and demonstrated analytical/statistical method application to ecology-based research questions, demonstrated research communication through peer-reviewed manuscripts, and macroinvertebrate identification/research experience. Valid Driver's License.

Preferred Qualifications
Ph.D. in Biology, Aquatic Ecology, Statistics, Ecological Statistics, or related field. Alternate degree fields will be considered depending on the nature and depth of the experience at it relates to this position. Ph.D. with a minimum of 3As years of experience applying statistical techniques to ecological data and familiarity or have conducted field and laboratory research on large rivers or other large aquatic systems. Experience driving boats on rivers or other large bodies of water. Experience analyzing macroinvertebrate data, time-series or similar analyses and are familiar with implementation of ecological and multivariate models. Experience managing and analyzing large data sets is a bonus.

Knowledge, Skills and AbilitiesStrong analytical skills and strong proficiency with R or SAS statistical software and its application to ecological-based statistics. Must be able to write clearly and scientifically as demonstrated through prior publications. Must possess excellent organizational, interpersonal, and oral and written communication skills. Ability to apply analytical/scientific thinking to define and solve problems. Ability to work independently, collect and analyze field data, and coherently communicate findings (verbally and in writing) to granting agencies and to scientific and public communities. 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. Proficiency in macroinvertebrate identification, commonly employed software and databases, including MS Office (Excel, Word, Access), ArcGIS, and statistical software packages (R, SAS, etc.). Possess appropriate field and laboratory skills as well as physical skills necessary to carry out work. Must possess strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work collaboratively with other scientists, researchers, staff, and clients. Ability to swim is required. Ability to oversee staff including scheduling, task assignment, performance, and other related issues.Appointment Information
This is a 100% full-time Academic Professional position, appointed on a 12-month basis. The expected start date is as soon as possible on or after October 1, 2022. The starting salary for this position is $52,000.

Application Procedures & Deadline Information
Applications must be received by September 13, 2022. Apply for this position using the Apply Now button at the top or bottom of this posting. Applications not submitted through this website will not be considered. Application materials must include a 1) cover letter that clearly outlines your qualifications and experience as it relates to this position, 2) a CV or resume, and 3) names and contact information (including email addresses) for three professional references. Incomplete applications will not be considered. For further information about this specific position, please contact Dr. James Lamer at For questions regarding the application process, please contact 217-333-2137.

The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity employer, including but not limited to disability and/or veteran status, and complies with all applicable state and federal employment mandates. Please visit Required Employment Notices and Posters to view our non-discrimination statement and find additional information about required background checks, sexual harassment/misconduct disclosures, COVID-19 vaccination requirement, and employment eligibility review through E-Verify .

Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply and may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2008) to complete the application and/or interview process. Requests may be submitted through the reasonable accommodations portal , or by contacting the Accessibility & Accommodations Division of the Office for Access and Equity at 217-333-0885, or by emailing .

Requisition ID: 1010372
Job Category: Research
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