Assistant Scientist, Coastal Outreach & Engagement - Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (104614

Job description

Assistant Scientist, Coastal Outreach & Engagement

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center
Prairie Research Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) 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. ISTC integrates applied research, technical assistance, and information services to advance efforts in the areas of pollution prevention; water and energy conservation; and materials recycling and beneficial reuse. Learn more at

ISTC is seeking an Assistant Scientist, Coastal Outreach & Engagement to provide technical expertise and leadership to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Program (CMP) on key areas of work including community capacity building, habitat conservation, education, and recreation/tourism. This position is based in Chicago, Illinois.

CMP invests in building healthy ecosystems and resilient communities along Illinois' Lake Michigan shoreline that protect and enhance the environmental, economic, and social value of our Great Lakes coast. It is also part of a broader national network of state coastal programs through our partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Illinois Lake Michigan coast is a dynamic environment that hosts high value natural and anthropogenic resources. The ecological value of near shore and near coast terrestrial areas ranks high in diversity, uniqueness, and importance. The economy of coastal activities such as commerce, tourism, recreation, and transportation underpins the financial sustainability of northeast Illinois communities. Illinois' Coast is a complex interface between terrestrial and aquatic environments that have been significantly modified from their natural state, and highly urbanized. These dynamics pose challenges for maintaining and managing the natural, economic and social resources that characterize this region.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit To learn more about the University's commitment to diversity, please visit

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Enhance coastal recreational opportunities and sustainable nature based tourism. Engage with coastal communities, municipal leaders, and stakeholder groups; facilitating partnerships.
  • Conduct surveys of visitor expectations, satisfaction & knowledge of nature tourism opportunities.
  • Organize, coordinate or promote recreational events and programs (e.g. Paddling Festivals or outdoor programming).
  • Promote awareness of and increase public access to the Lake Michigan Water Trail in Illinois.
  • Identify and support opportunities to improve recreational connectivity, access and amenities.
  • Support Illinois-specific Great Lakes-based tourism including campaigns, special initiatives and coastal wayfinding.
  • Assist coastal communities in enhancing their coastal identity to promote tourism.
  • Draw on technical expertise to translate coastal science and build community capacity for science-based decision making.
  • Increase the capacity of coastal communities to protect natural, cultural, and economic resources and improve sustainability by building partnerships and developing tools.
  • Improve public shoreline management and increase understanding of processes, issues and solutions related to sand management through coordination, technical assistance and communication.
  • Coordinate and support citizen science projects, such as beach monitoring, to engage stakeholders in research on coastal processes and hazards.
  • Assess outreach and engagement needs and gaps related to understanding coastal Lake Michigan issues, protection and management.
  • Engage with and support communities and groups to increase coastal dependent development.
  • Support revitalization of the harbors, ports, and working waterfronts through planning, capacity support, and strategic projects.
  • Assess coastal natural resources education and engagement needs in coastal area and refine coastal programming to better address needs.
  • Create communication tools such as visualizations (e.g. maps, videos) blogs, public lectures, field trips, and educational curricula to communicate coastal processes and hazards to stakeholders using data and analyses developed in previous action items.
  • Increase educational opportunities related to Illinois coastal specific habitats and species; access and recreation.
  • Understand biological and geological challenges of ravine systems and develop conservation strategies and programs as needed, including understanding partner initiatives; gaps and needs for outreach, engagement, and management; and barriers to improving habitats on privately owned ravines.
  • Implement or facilitate planning, restoration, stewardship, and partnership-building projects, such as beach and dune management, that maintain or protect a range of coastal habitats.
  • Travel, including overnight for multiple days in a row, to attend meetings, workshops, conferences, etc. and to perform fieldwork. Fieldwork will occur in both rural and urban settings, some of which may be under adverse conditions (e.g. inclement weather, remoteness, site security concerns, moderate physical exertion).
  • Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.
  • Perform other duties as needed to further the mission and goals of PRI.

Required Qualifications: Master's degree in marine or coastal science; ecology; environmental sciences - biology management, policy; biological sciences, or related discipline. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position. Two years' experience writing or preparing clear and understandable scientific reports, proposals, public communication pieces, publications, and giving oral presentations. Experience with stakeholder engagement or broad public outreach. Must have an understanding of Lake Michigan or Great Lakes ecological systems; coastal and great lakes environmental policies; regulatory framework; human dimensions techniques. Complex problem solving and decision making skills. Ability to organize and execute complex projects and meet deadlines. Good communication skills to establish friendly, open, and clear communication with others. Ability and willingness to effectively contribute as part of a team. 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 commonly-employed software and databases. Must possess strong interpersonal skills and ability to work collaboratively with other scientists, researchers, staff and PRI clients. Must be able to conduct field work under less than ideal conditions. A valid driver's license and access to transportation.

Preferred Qualifications: Ph.D. in marine or coastal science; ecology; environmental sciences - biology, management, policy; biological sciences, or related discipline. Experience creating clear graphics for complex information, and using social media for strategic communication needs. Experience using GIS software including GIS spatial and temporal analysis.

This is a regular full-time academic professional appointment, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding. The starting date is negotiable and salary is commensurate with experience.

To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by November 22, 2018; however, applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Applicants may be interviewed before November 22, 2018; however, no hiring decision will be made until after this date. To apply, please visit to complete an online profile and to upload 1) a cover letter that clearly articulates how your qualifications and experience make you a viable candidate for this position and should address the qualifications listed above, 2) a resume/CV, and 3) the names and contact information (including e-mail addresses) of three professional references. All requested information/documentation must be submitted for applications to be considered. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

For further information please contact Lori Walston-Vonderharr, Human Resources, Prairie Research Institute, at [email protected] or 217-244-2401. For technical inquiries, please contact Debra Jacobson, Associate Director at [email protected].

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

College Name or Administrative Unit: Office of Vice Chancellor for Research
Category: 6-Research
Title: Assistant Scientist, Coastal Outreach & Engagement - Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (104614)
Open Date: 10/25/2018
Close Date: 11/22/2018
Organization Name: IL Sustainable Technology Ctr





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Job No:
Posted: 11/27/2018
Application Due: 12/30/2018
Work Type: