Job | Research Fellow @ La Brea Tar Pits and Museum


  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Employer: La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
  • Qualifications: MS (PhD preferred) in Biology or Biology Education, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geoscience, Paleontology, Museum Studies, or a related field
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Application Deadline: 15th March 2017
  • Queries at: thayden@nhm.org
Link: Click here to access the full text of the offer

Offer full description:

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (LBTPM, Los Angeles, California) seeks a Research Fellow to join an NSF-funded project to reconstruct paleo-food web models. The successful candidate will help design, implement, and assess a classroom-based citizen science initiative to process and identify plant, insect, and/or other animal microfossil samples from Project 23, a series of excavations that preserve late Quaternary microfossils within an asphaltic matrix. The Research Fellow will work closely with an interdisciplinary team of researchers at La Brea (PIs L. Chiappe, E. Lindsey, collections staff and volunteers), UC Merced (PIs J. Blois and J. Yeakel), and the University of Maine (PI J. Gill) as well as with educators from the Education Department and Citizen Science Office of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He/she will be based at the LBTPM, with trips to Merced, California and Orono, Maine as necessary.  The Research Fellow will also have the opportunity to pursue independent research questions related to the broader project goals of reconstructing and assessing millennial-scale food web models and response to climate change and extinction.

A member of the Natural History Museum’s family of institutions, the LBTPM oversees the renowned La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s richest Ice Age sites that has yielded an estimated 5 million fossil specimens representing more than 600 species of animals and plants of Late Pleistocene age. These collections afford a huge potential for a broad array of research and public programs and are continuously growing through ongoing excavations. The Research Fellow will be expected to design, develop, implement, and assess a crowd-sourced, classroom-based project to identify ice age fossils from one of the most productive fossil sites in the world; integrate results with a team effort to build novel, Bayesian food web models to test food web responses to 50,000 years of climate variability; receive cross-training in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary paleontology techniques (e.g., fossil excavation, radiocarbon dating, paleobotany, stable isotope ecology, Bayesian modeling); participate in project meetings with PIs as a member of an interdisciplinary team; disseminate project results through papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations; help develop classroom modules for implementation in schools in California and Maine; facilitate an active communication with schools and teachers; and contribute to research shaping future exhibits at the LBTPM, which receives 350,000 visitors per year.

The Research Fellow will also be offered: access to excellent laboratory facilities in California and Maine; the opportunity to conduct research that advances basic and applied science, with a strong outreach component; mentorship and training by an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental team committed to advancing early career researchers, diversity in STEM, and strong communication skills; a vibrant region to live and work with a high quality of life; training and mentoring for exciting career opportunities in education, academia, museums, or outreach.

The successful candidate will have an MS (PhD preferred) in Biology or Biology Education, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geoscience, Paleontology, Museum Studies, or a related field. Other preferred qualifications include: experience working with museum outreach, citizen science, and/or biology education; familiarity with Quaternary paleoecology and paleoclimates and/or California flora and fauna; and demonstrated research success through peer-reviewed publications. A passion for working with students and teachers as well as outstanding written and oral communication skills are paramount (fluency in Spanish is highly desirable).

The position is for up to 36 months, with annual renewal pending satisfactory progress. While the Research Fellow will report to Senior Vice President of Research and Collections, he/she will work together with staff from the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the Education Department and Citizen Science Office to meet the educational components of the position. Competitive salary, plus an excellent benefits package is available for eligible employees. For more information, please see nhm.org.

Applicants should send a cover letter indicating their interest and qualifications for this position (including a paragraph outlining potential projects of interest), a CV, and contact information for three professional references to Tyler Hayden atthayden@nhm.org. Please also direct any questions about the position or application to thayden@nhm.org

The application deadline is March 15th. The start date is expected during Summer 2017.


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Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)