Job Opportunities

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many opportunities for students, professionals, and volunteers.

Job Openings at the Cornell Lab

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The Lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where twelve world-class, mission-driven programs are directed by full-time faculty and other renowned professionals. Lab staff teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, collect and disseminate world-famous digital resources on biodiversity, and engage with partner organizations and citizens around the world to conduct scientific research and conservation actions. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

To apply for the positions below, please refer to the Jobs at Cornell website unless otherwise specified. For more information on the positions listed below, please contact Sue Taggart; (607) 254-2470.

For more jobs in ornithology, see listings from the Ornithological Societies of North America.

Applications Developer

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a motivated and creative Applications Developer to join our team in creating interactive websites to improve the understanding and protection of birds and nature. Duties include:

  • Work with our team of designers, educators, and scientists to develop websites and interactive online tools for engaging the public in science and supporting conservation. More than 16 million people each year visit our Webby-award-winning site,, and 1.2 million people view our live Bird Cams.
  • Help advance new tools for understanding and exploring information about birds, including a new project to enable the public to collaborate with scientists in research investigations using live and archived cam footage.
  • Work with the Bird Cams team to conceptualize, research, develop, launch, and update interactive tools by adapting and building upon existing software when possible. Components include login systems and the ability to track user activity; developing functionalities for users to annotate live and archived video data; and offering data visualization and exploration tools.
  • Collaborate with database manager to ensure seamless collection, archiving, and access to data.
  • Work with the designer to implement/update designs in WordPress sites.
  • Perform quality assurance based on existing procedures or project requirements.
  • Ensure cross-browser compatibility and mobile optimization for all projects.
  • Develop and implement DevOps scripts and procedures to increase deployment efficiency and consistency between server environments.
  • Create and maintain a consistent business layer standard so various Lab applications can share data and communicate with each other.
  • Experiment with hybrid app development.
  • Evaluate and recommend new technologies and techniques.
Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and available funding.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with 3-5 years relevant education or equivalent experience.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications is essential, as well as experience with the complete software development lifecycle.
  • Demonstrable experience in the following areas: 1) web application development using, C#, Ruby, php, and other languages and frameworks; 2) interactive client-side website development – JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, HTML5/CSS; bootstrap or other responsive front-end frameworks, browser compatibility issues; 3) database-driven application development - MSSQL; object-relational mapping tools.
  • Good interpersonal skills and diplomacy required with a variety of domain experts, as well as the ability to help establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Must be self-motivated and able to work independently, and be equally capable of working with the supervisor to prioritize projects and to regularly communicate status and progress.
  • Ability to customize and maintain content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal, and experience in syndicating content to other websites with XML/APIs, etc.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Master's degree in computer or information science.
  • Previous experience with content management systems and fundraising platforms such as Engaging Networks.
  • Experience in fundraising, advocacy, or marketing is highly desirable.
  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop is a plus.
  • Experience with Java, Oracle SQL, RESTful API, Ruby on Rails.
  • Prior experience working on computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects.
  • Proven experience writing application requirements, architecting applications, and documenting code.
  • Experience working as part of a team.
  • Experience with search engine optimization, website analytics, and optimizing content for mobile devices.
  • Passion for conservation, nature, wildlife, and non-profit mission is desirable.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references. Visa Sponsorship is not available for this position; not eligible to apply. Relocation assistance is not provided for this position. Grant funding for this position is available for 1.5 years.

Associate Producer

The Multimedia Productions Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking an Associate Producer. Specific duties include:

  • In coordination with project producers, associate producers serve as the primary manager for all information and activities associated with a selected project or assignment.
  • Their duties touch on all aspects of a production, from pre-production through final post and delivery.
  • Scope of responsibilities will vary by project but will generally include conducting story research, investigating current science related to topics of interest, and writing proposals.
  • Beyond editorial duties, APs have lead responsibility for production budgets and schedules, disseminating science briefs, organizing and coordinating the execution of field shoots, media management and the fulfillment of final technical materials/products.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent in biology or communications.
  • Scope of educational experience should convey strength in biology and ecology.
  • At least 2 years of experience in a capacity involving editorial research, logistical preparation and field shooting associated with natural history, environmental, or journalistic storytelling.
  • Professional experience should include researching scientific topics and interpreting scientific publications, researching footage archives, organizing and coordinating domestic and international shoots, hiring professional contractors, and supporting film crews while in the field.
  • Strong interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Ability to present ideas clearly and concisely in oral and written form to a broad range of people.
  • Able to work quickly and effectively under pressure, use judgment in accomplishing tasks that are urgent or of a sensitive or confidential nature; balance conflicting priorities, and make decisions from a range of choices.
  • Comfort working in an environment where change in process, procedures, and priorities is the norm.
  • Ability to travel for long periods of time to remote locations around the world when necessary; must maintain a valid passport and driver's license.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Advanced training or degree in ornithology or zoology with evidence of broad biological knowledge.
  • Experience conducting biological research.
  • Extensive knowledge of bird species.
  • Experience writing for general audiences (entertainment and educational) and a high comfort interpreting science publications and principles.
  • Prior experience directing professional level field crews and talent interviews.
  • An informed understanding of technical needs/demands associated with field assignments.
Visa Sponsorship not available for this position; not eligible to apply. Relocation assistance is not provided for this position.

Major Gifts Associate

The Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Major Gifts Associate. Specific duties include:

  • Serve as an integral member of the development team, providing critical support to at least three gift officers, each of whom manages a portfolio of donors or prospective donors with the potential to make gifts between $250k and $10 million.
  • Grow and manage the Lab’s Chairman’s Council program, a yearly giving society for donors who give more than $10,000 in unrestricted dollars.
  • Collaborate with MGOs on donor cultivation and solicitation actions, including coordinating engagement and cultivation events and visits, preparing solicitation materials (proposals, PowerPoints, donor briefs), and creating Letters of Agreement.
  • Coordinate Lab prospect research, management and tracking, helping to identify new prospects, and ensuring that major gifts prospects move smoothly through the management pipeline so that the Lab meets its cash and New Gifts & Commitments goals.
  • Track fundraising goals on a weekly basis, working with the Senior Director of Philanthropy to develop and regularly review Lab and AA&D work plans and assist in creating fundraising updates for senior management and the board.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree; at least 3 year related experience or equivalent.
  • Proven record of providing a high level of administrative support.
  • Must have positive attitude and strong customer service skills.
  • Must display ability to work well under pressure and handle all personnel and financial matters with discretion.
  • Ability to handle situations with a high degree of confidentiality, discretion, judgment, tact and diplomacy while fostering excellent working relationships to all customers.
  • Demonstrated respect and sensitivity for cultural differences and the ability to foster relationship with current and potential donors.
  • Experience working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment.
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal, with an ability to respect, relate, and articulate effectively, both internally and externally to individuals and organizations of diverse backgrounds.
  • Work well in group problem solving situations.
  • Demonstrated organizational skills and good judgment.
  • Must be able to change direction/tasks quickly.
  • Must take initiative and have the ability to work independently.
  • Display original thinking and creativity; meet challenges with resourcefulness.
  • Demonstrated experience with proof reading and editing materials.
  • Highly capable in working with database software, spreadsheet software (such as Excel), graphing and charting software, word processing software (such as Word) and presentation software (such as Power Point), internet software, and others.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of Cornell AAD People Soft, Raiser’s Edge, Research point and other procedures and Cornell’s accounting procedures helpful.
  • An appreciation of birds and conservation.

Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Visa Sponsorship is not available for this position; not eligible to apply.

Software Engineer

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a motivated Software Engineer to lead efforts to manage millions of images, sounds, and videos in a scientific archive, the Macaulay Library. An active community of citizen scientists gather media with metadata (such as date and location) that are uploaded through online applications (including eBird), stored, and accessible for display on applications, and requested by researchers and educators. Specific duties include:

  • Develop the software to support pipelines for media delivery and long-term, archival storage.
  • Collaborate with world-class experts and development teams on challenging data-intensive projects that will advance science and conservation.
  • Develop, deploy, and maintain data management, media automation systems, and tools that facilitate the use of media for science, education, and conservation.
  • Review and improve workflows for processing and managing media and metadata.
  • Design, implement, and test software and server systems to: preserve, structure, and synchronize media metadata; allow users to find, play, preview, download, and license recordings; equip staff and contributors with tools to manage media and metadata; and automate media and metadata management.
One-year term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in computer science or related field, and 3-5 years programming experience or equivalent.
  • Two year experience designing, building, and testing web applications.
  • Proficiency using Java/Spring, Ruby/Rails, Javascript, or similar frameworks.
  • One year experience writing SQL.
  • Experience integrating multiple systems, and building/consuming APIs.
  • Experience using software development tools such as git, jenkins, and jira.
  • Experience with linux server administration.
  • Experience collaborating with a team of engineers, designers, project managers, and stakeholders, to solve problems and achieve common goals.
  • Able to adapt to changing priorities, situations, and demands.
  • Able to express highly technical terms in everyday language.
  • Able to participate in a team rotation for off-hours monitoring.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with Spring, Oracle, Solr, ELK, Docker.
  • Knowledge of birds, conservation, and natural science.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references. Visa Sponsorship is not available for this position; not eligible to apply. Relocation assistance is not provided for this position.

Year Round

Kristen Rupert and John Foote Undergraduate Research Fund

Recipients of Rupert/Foote funding engage in paid semester or summer opportunities in collaboration with a Cornell Lab of Ornithology faculty or staff member. This fund is specifically designed to promote cross-disciplinary study at the University, particularly by Cornell students whose interests and majors fall outside the traditional realms of ornithological research. Examples might include a mechanical engineering major who helps design a bird recording device, an English major who writes articles for our website, a computer science major who creates an algorithm for our bird ID app, or an art major who draws images for our outreach publications. Nominations for this program are initiated by a Lab faculty or staff member. Students interested in this program should discuss it with their Lab-based mentor or supervisor or contact Myrah Bridwell at Nominations are considered on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Bartels Science Illustration Internships

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will offer at least one paid Bartels Science Illustration Internship each year, lasting from three to six months, 39 hours per week. Recipients will work on a project illustrating birds, wildlife, and/or plants for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's print publications, outreach materials, and websites. We are seeking students (artists just starting their career) at least 18 years old who have previous experience and exceptional talent in illustration, painting, or drawing who are interested in advancing their skills in ornithological art. Interns will work on projects that help the Lab achieve its mission, and these projects often result in publication of the intern's work. For more information, please download this file. You may also contact Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, design director, by email at, or call 607-254-2417 or 607-342-4811.

Francis M. Peacock Scholarship

The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to students studying areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. Typically, the Scholarship awards $4,500 annually to one scholar. In special instances, because of two unusually qualified candidates or two candidates working on one project, the award may be divided between two candidates. College seniors or graduate students enrolled in a US-based institution are eligible to apply. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Applications must be submitted by January 15 preceding the proposed period of study. For more information, see the proposal guidelines.

Other funding opportunities for Cornell undergraduates

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology manages a number of additional funds that support undergraduate student research, semester and summer jobs, expeditions, and activities that align with the Cornell Lab’s broad mission. The Lab currently does not have funds to support University financial aid or similar tuition scholarships to individuals, and most of these opportunities are limited to Cornell undergraduates who are in good academic standing. To initiate a conversation about these funding opportunities, students or their advisor/mentor should obtain our simple funding request form by emailing Myrah Bridwell at

Spring and Summer

Environmental & Sustainability Communication Fellowships

For Cornell juniors or sophomores in communication or sustainability-related fields: If you are interested in gaining theoretical and hands-on experience in communication, Cornell offers 10 fellowships in Environmental & Sustainability Communication. The program involves taking a course in spring and completing a full-time paid internship in summer at a participating organization (examples of organizations this year include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and Cornell Sustainability). The internship at the Lab of Ornithology is supported by the Lab’s Science Communication Fund, thanks to Jay Branegan ’72 and Stefania Pittaluga. The rolling deadline for the fellowship program is November 1–January 1. See the PDF flyer for details.


Philip H. Bartels ’71 Scholars

Two Bartels Scholars are appointed annually to engage in a paid, eight-week summer opportunity. This opportunity is open to Cornell undergraduates who would conduct the proposed project during the summer in collaboration with a Cornell Lab of Ornithology faculty or staff member. Although Bartels Scholars most commonly focus on research, any Lab-related activity may be appropriate. Nominations for Bartels scholars are initiated by a Lab faculty or staff member. Students interested in this opportunity should discuss it with their Lab-based mentor or supervisor or contact Myrah Bridwell at Nominations for the forthcoming summer should be submitted by March 31.


We are looking for volunteers of all ability levels to assist with the programs and operations of the Visitor Center. If you love birds and want to be around others who share your interests, you are invited to join our new Visitor Center volunteer corps!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, housed at the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, offers opportunities for visitors to connect with the Lab and learn about its mission to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity. Birders, school classes, families, and nature lovers come to the Lab to walk the trails, watch birds, view the art, use the library, and learn from exhibits, tours, guided walks, seminars, and other types of programs.

Volunteer Opportunities
• Helping with youth education programs
• Leading guided tours
• Assisting with outreach efforts
• Helping out in the Adelson Library

• Attend initial information session
• Complete the training for a specific volunteer appointment
• Commit to at least five hours per month (specific time commitments vary by appointment)
• Must be 18 years of age or older

• Complimentary Cornell Lab of Ornithology membership
• 10% discount in Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods store
• Program discounts
• Training and continuing education opportunities

If you are interested in volunteering at the Lab of Ornithology please contact Anne Rosenberg at or call 607-254-2109.

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