Conservation Scientist, Population Biology

Brookfield Zoo - Brookfield, IL4.1

Full-timeEstimated: $64,000 - $84,000 a year
The Conservation Scientist, Population Biology contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society’s (“CZS”) mission by developing and managing the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative (“SCTI”) and conducting research that furthers the theoretical and empirical understanding of population processes affecting the survival and viability of in situ and ex situ wildlife populations.

Primary duties and responsibilities:
Manage assigned staff including, but not limited to: selection, training and development, counseling, performance appraisal, recognition, salary recommendations, promotional, disciplinary and separation actions.
Working with scientific, management, and other Society staff, guide strategic direction to CZS, as well as the greater zoological and conservation communities concerning the optimal genetic and demographic management of wildlife populations. Help shape institutional priorities for population research and conservation and ensure concordance with other Society programs and institutional priorities for wildlife conservation.
Develop and execute population research programs and initiatives that are compatible with and support the exhibition and husbandry programs of CZS. Act as a catalyst for formulating relevant research questions related to the management of wild and captive populations, including population dynamics, genetic determinants, health, husbandry and management issues, reproductive performance, etc. Work with other CZS employees and other institutions to provide informed recommendations on the management of professionally managed animal collections and wild populations. Initiate discussions and/or conduct studies to increase knowledge and enhance decision-making and animal management practices for critically small wildlife populations.
Prepare annual SCTI program budget and manage expenditures of SCTI accounts and grant funds. Participate in the development of the annual budget of the Conservation, Education and Training (“CET”) Department.
Represent CET department as appropriate, and perform suitable external assignments requested of the department or as directed by the Senior Vice President, CET or the Vice President of Conservation Science and Animal Welfare Research. Assist Conservation Science staff with responsibility for conservation and research programs, e.g., Behavioral Husbandry, Ecology, Genetics, in the development of these programs in concordance with the Society’s mission and vision. Facilitate communication and coordination of activities among the various conservation and research programs of the Society, including integration of programs based principally away from the zoo.
In partnership, develop and manage the SCTI, maintain close professional contacts with population biologists in the academic community, and facilitate technology and information transfer in both directions.
Provide training and guidance to students of population biology working at the zoo as research volunteers, research interns, docents, summer student research program participants, or independent researchers conducting projects at the zoo.
Work with the Conservation Funding Initiatives Team and the Development department to acquire outside sources of funds for support of SCTI and related research, and assist in obtaining funds for other conservation biology and general Society needs.
Make management recommendations based on knowledge, literature, and research results. Work closely with other scientists and topic and taxon experts to assure application of research findings to management of the collection. Identify appropriate research areas and disseminate information for application of research findings to benefit the animal collection. Publish and present relevant findings for various professional and public audiences.
Develop and implement actions to improve workplace culture with an emphasis on driving results and fostering inclusion. Actively lead employee engagement, talent development, recruitment, and retention initiatives. Leverage organizational resources (training and development-CZS University, performance management systems, employee surveys, regular communications vehicles, staff meetings, etc.) to drive continuous improvement and positive outcomes.
Other related duties as assigned.

Position Requirements and Specifications

The requirements for this position include the following:
Ph.D. degree in biology, ecology, zoology or other conservation-related field required.

Five years of directly relevant experience in conservation research, biology, and/or conservation programs, including small population viability analysis, population modeling, habitat assessment and international research partnerships required.

Five years of relevant management, supervisory or leadership experience or equivalent required.

Strong expertise in quantitative genetic methods of animal breeding, population genetic theory, and molecular and morphometric analysis of genetic variation.

Strong quantitative expertise, include computer proficiency, including quantitative mathematical modeling, spreadsheet, database, and other basic business application software.

Leadership ability with a track record of scientific leadership.

Ability to interface basic science and research with wildlife conservation and animal management.

Strong interpersonal and communication skills, including verbal, written, and presentation/platform skills. Ability to communicate to a variety of audiences. English fluency at a full professional proficiency required.

Ability to maintain the confidentiality of privileged information is essential.

Effectively prioritize, meet critical deadlines, and facilitate collaborative efforts.

Develop, control, and manage a budget.

Leadership in developing, editing and reviewing peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts.

Strong diplomatic skills to operate in various cultures and cultural environments around the world

Experience and/or ability to work and interact effectively with a diverse, multicultural audience.

A valid driver’s license is required.

Preferred qualifications include:
Additional experience in teaching and/or communications strongly preferred.

Experience representing conservation and research interests to regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, international associations and funding organizations highly desirable.

Multilingual ability, Spanish fluency a plus.

Additional Information: This position description summarizes the primary duties and functions of this position, but should not be considered a complete listing of every duty the incumbent may ever be called upon to perform. This is a key visible, salaried position within the organization. It requires an experienced and dedicated career professional who is committed to the continual development of a comprehensive, conservation program for a world-class institution. Incumbent is required to gain an intimate understanding of the Chicago Zoological Society. Interest in/commitment to biological conservation and research. Position requires an individual who is highly regarded as a conservation biology professional by peers around the world. Individual will be expected to make presentations and be present and visible at select events. Must be willing to travel as needed to maintain an international network of conservation professional collaborators.

Additional Information

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Schedule Details

Individual will be expected to make presentations and be present and visible at select events sponsored by the institution for its staff, Board members, and other professional participants and audiences and to represent the institution externally. Must be willing to travel as needed to maintain an international network of conservation professional collaborators.

Job LocationChicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo
Zip Code


DepartmentConservation Science

Conservation, Education & Training

Union StatusNon-Union
Work Shift

Weekdays- some evenings/weekends- etc.