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Director & Principal Research Scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey

Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, Illinois
The minimum starting salary is $125,000 plus a $25,000 stipend for the Director Role.
Closing date
Apr 30, 2024

Illinois is a world leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. We serve the state, the nation, and the world by creating knowledge, preparing students for lives of impact, and addressing critical societal needs through the transfer and application of knowledge. Illinois is the place where we embrace difference. We embrace it because we value it. Illinois is especially interested in candidates who can contribute, through their research, teaching, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the Illinois community.

The Prairie Research Institute (PRI), a research and service institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, houses five State Scientific Surveys covering a wide range of expertise including biology, water resources, climate, geology, sustainable technology, and archaeology.  PRI’s mission is to provide objective, integrated scientific research and service that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure sustainable economic development, enduring environmental quality, and cultural resource preservation for the people, businesses, and across Illinois, the nation, and the world. Learn more at


Why Work at the Prairie Research Institute?

Highlights of Employee Benefits


The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) which 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 is seeking a Director who will provide strategic direction and overall administration for the Survey while also serving in a Principal Research Scientist role to administer research activities of the Survey by conceiving, recommending, implementing, directing, and participating in scientific research focused on the selected candidates area of study while contributing to the overall scientific mission of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI). This is an in-person position based in Champaign, Illinois.

Director Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provide leadership, direction, and overall administration for the development, coordination, and implementation of scientific research and service programs undertaken and provided by the INHS.
  • Oversee INHS annual budget and coordinate with PRI leadership in facilitating INHS development efforts.
  • Collaborate with the PRI Executive Director in strategic program planning, resource allocation, organizational development, and implementation of programs.
  • Participate in PRI leadership, effectively representing the interests of INHS to PRI and advise PRI Executive Director and other PRI leaders regarding matters pertinent to the mission of INHS and PRI.
  • Identify cutting-edge research foci and other multi-disciplinary research themes related to INHS and PRI.
  • Encourage, promote, and facilitate research within INHS and develop collaborative research, service, outreach efforts, and relationships with the University of Illinois administration, community, and its stakeholders and external constituents.
  • Represent INHS interests and capabilities to local, state, federal, and non-governmental organizations.
  • Supervise and lead INHS Management and staff to achieve success and foster an inclusive culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels.  This includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance management with coaching/mentoring and feedback, career development planning, lease/travel approval, as well as conducting annual performance reviews.
  • Ensure INHS gathers, disseminates, and archives accurate, objective, and relevant scientific information with a focus on biological and ecological resources for government officials and agencies, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.
  • Encourage and lead a strong commitment to diversity through establishing retention and recruiting priorities, as well as personally exhibiting a commitment to inclusion. Foster a culture of open communication.
  • Promote awareness of and education about safety and safe working methods.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to personal growth and support, and encourage others to develop their knowledge, skills, and behaviors so that they can reach their full potential for the greater benefit of the University.
  • Take a holistic view and work enthusiastically and creatively to analyze problems and develop innovative and workable solutions. Identify opportunities for innovation.
  • Encourage and promote research enterprises including proposal writing, research innovation, teaching, and education. Identify and secure state, federal, and private sources of funding.
  • Encourage, foster, and develop collaborative research, service, outreach efforts, and relationships with the University of Illinois, community, and its stakeholders and with external constituents.


Principal Research Scientist Duties and Responsibilities

  • Independently coordinate and develop a significant research/investigations program, secure associated funding opportunities, and perform tasks in that capacity including management of grant funding and efficient production of project, grant, manuscripts, or contract reports and deliverables.
  • Collaborate with survey scientists, University of Illinois faculty, and external colleagues (national and international) to provide integrated interpretations and applications to existing and new research programs.
  • Actively collaborate with the University faculty, through joint research proposals, joint publications, invited lectures, and similar.
  • Publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, technical survey reports, maps, databases, or other service-related deliverables, as well as participate in various internal or external review committees, and serve as a survey-wide scientific advisor in this area.
  • Respond to requests for information and provide technical expertise to PRI staff, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, industry, and the general public.
  • Contribute to the areas of outreach and/or other service to the Survey, PRI, the University of Illinois, and the state of Illinois.
  • Enhance the reputation of the Survey and PRI at the state, national, and international levels.
  • Perform other duties as needed to further the mission and goals of the Survey, PRI, and the University of Illinois. Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.

Minimum Qualifications

Ph.D. in a scientific discipline relevant to the mission and goals of the Prairie Research Institute and the Illinois Natural History Survey. A minimum of 10 years of professional experience in an academic or government research environment; administrative and leadership experience in a university, state, federal, or non-governmental organization; experience in forming and maintaining relationships with state, federal, and relevant non-governmental organizations; and an established record of obtaining sponsored funding from state and federal agencies and the private sector and actively facilitating research endeavors.       

Preferred Qualifications

Experience conducting a research program that complements and/or promotes collaboration with other Survey and PRI scientists. Experience with delivering unbiased science that independently impacts public policy.                       

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organization, 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. Excellent budget management resource allocation and decision-making skills. Strong time-management skills and the ability to manage multiple ongoing projects and proposals simultaneously.



Appointment Information
This is a 100% full-time Academic Professional position. The minimum starting salary is $125,000 plus a $25,000 stipend for the Director Role and is commensurate with education, experience, and skill. The start date is negotiable.   

Application Procedures & Deadline Information
Applications must be received by 6:00 pm (CST) on April 30, 2024. Apply for this position at by using the Apply Now button at the top or bottom of the 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 Amber Hall 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 requirements, 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

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