Cornell University, Lab of Ornithology

Position ID:Cornell-Lab-RASK [#13143, WDR-00017652]
Position Title: Research Associate - Ecological Statistician
Position Type:Other
Position Location:Ithaca, New York 14850, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Ecology
Appl Deadline:2019/02/01* finished (2019/01/17, finished 2019/07/18, listed until 2019/02/01)
Position Description:    

*** this position has been closed, and no new applications will be accepted. ***

Lab of Ornithology

Agriculture & Life Sciences

Cornell University


POSITION:                            Research Associate: Ecological Statistician


START DATE:                       5/20/2019, three-years renewable


LOCATION:                          Cornell Lab of Ornithology

                                                Johnson Center for Birds & Biodiversity

                                                Cornell University, Ithaca, NY  14850


Position Function:


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the home of eBird, which is a large, global citizen science project that collates millions of bird observations from thousands of participants around the world. This exponentially growing dataset has revolutionized avian ecology, by providing unprecedented information on bird abundance across space and time. The Ecological Statistician will work within the existing Analytical research team and will be responsible for development and use of large-scale models to analyze eBird data. This work includes basic and applied research in order to develop methods for the construction of species distribution models and other ecological metrics from eBird data, specifically developing models that take account of the challenges of large citizen science datasets.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also works with a number of additional avian datasets, including: radar, acoustics, banding, and tracking data. The Ecological Statistician will develop methods that combine eBird data with these additional datasets in integrated models, by combining the strengths of each dataset into a single analytical framework. The researcher will utilize a range of statistical, machine learning, and computational techniques, in order to build robust models with uncertainty that scale effectively to large spatial and temporal scales of eBird data.


The Ecological Statistician will communicate extensively with avian biologists in the Information Science, Bird Population Studies and Conservation Science programs. The researcher will promote interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration with collaborators internally and externally, in order to ensure that the models and products developed with eBird data are effective tools for ecological researchers and conservation practitioners.


The researcher will develop, conduct, and lead original research in the fields of qualitative ecology, statistics or related field. Serve as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on multiple, concurrent sponsored projects. Monitor and report sponsored project status on a regular basis to Program Director and Lab Administration. Collaborate with, guide, and advise other researchers and technical staff on the analysis and interpretation of scientific data. The post holder will work collaboratively with other PIs in the Lab to identify, seek, and secure funding to support IS’s vision and strategic goals. Collaborate with program staff and external scientists on publishing methods and research in technical reports and peer-reviewed journals. Represent IS and the Lab by attending and presenting at conferences, seminars, workshops, and meetings.



Duties and Responsibilities:


Statistical Ecology Research (50%)

  • Further develop existing species distribution models for citizen science data, accounting for specific challenges that arise with eBird data. Produce more robust estimates of species relative abundance and associated uncertainty.
  • Develop additional analytical approaches for eBird data and combine eBird data with additional data sources. Research multi-species models and multi-species metrics of ecological change.
  • Interpret results, publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals, write reports, and give presentations at professional meetings.
  • Develop and foster national and international collaborations, with statisticians, ecologists, and conservation practitioners.


eBird Status and Trends (25%)

  • Contribute to the analytical methods for current and future products in eBird Status and Trends, expanding to more species, and more regions around the world.


Collaboration and Communication (20%)

  • Communicate with conservation team within the lab and external conservation partners to ensure that analytical products from eBird are appropriate and useful to guide conservation decisions. 
  • Provide statistical input to other research projects internal to the Lab of Ornithology
  • Communicate with the eBird project team to ensure that the analyses account for variation in data collection and that data collection accounts for analytical constraints. 
  • Collaborate with postdocs at the Lab of Ornithology.  
  • Engage in ongoing academic and intellectual activities at the Lab of Ornithology and at Cornell University.


Grants and funding (5%)

  • Lead or partner with internal and external collaborators to seek continued grant funding (e.g., NSF) to support the long-term research and development of analytical approaches with eBird data. Work with Cornell Lab and Cornell University development staff to engage potential philanthropic supporters.



·         PhD in a relevant area of quantitative ecology, statistics, or related field.

·         At least 3 years of postdoctoral experience.

·         Must have a strong record of original independent research.

·         Excellent record of publishing scientific papers in peer reviewed journals and contributing to international collaborations and conferences.

·         Experience securing funding for research and development grants and/or contracts.

·         Broad knowledge of statistical techniques, particularly as they relate to ecology.

·         Effective communication skills suitable for a diverse internal team, international collaborations, written reports and scientific presentations.

·         Must have a record of successfully setting and meeting schedules and milestones for research projects that involve multiple stages, complex budgets, and several participants.

·         Demonstrated experience leading or working as part of a team.

·         Must possess and maintain a valid passport and have the ability to travel internationally.



Preferred Requirements:

·         Experience mentoring and directing the work of students and postdocs.


Salary:  Commensurate with experience


Appointment: This is a full-time, 3-year appointment.


Supervision:  Primary supervisor is Steve Kelling, Director of Information Science, Cornell Lab. Additional advising and supervision by Dr. Daniel Fink, Senior Research Associate.


Supervision Exercised:  Supervision of postdoctoral associates within the Lab of Ornithology.


Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We’re an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and individuals with Disabilities.


APPLICATION PROCEDURE:  The application package consists of a cover letter, CV, the contact details for three references, and a statement of contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion via the website All application materials must be submitted by close of business on February 1, 2019. If you have questions related to this position, please contact Steve Kelling at

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

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