Job Opportunities

Mountain Bluebird by Eric Gofreed/Macaulay Library Mountain Bluebird by Eric Gofreed/Macaulay Library.

Join Our Dynamic, Inclusive Workplace

Located in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary in Ithaca, New York, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a renowned nonprofit institution dedicated to advancing the understanding and protection of birds, wildlife, and our shared planet through research, education, citizen science, and conservation.

We’re a great place to work

The Beautiful Finger Lakes Region
Come visit us at our headquarters at the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, located on the shore of Sapsucker Woods Pond in Ithaca, New York, four miles from the Cornell campus.

Ithacans enjoy the quality of life here in the Finger Lakes region with its abundant natural beauty, diverse community, and recreation throughout the seasons, whether hiking, biking, and canoeing in summer, skiing nearby slopes in winter, or enjoying the lively music scene year-round. Ithaca was named in the Top 100 Best Places to Live by Livability.com in 2018, and was ranked the #2 Best Small College Town by USA Today in 2016.

Cornell University Benefits
Cornell is nationally recognized as an award-winning workplace for health, well-being, sustainability, and diversity initiatives. Cornell provides great benefits including health care options, professional development, employee degree program, wellness programs, generous retirement contributions, paid leave positions (3 weeks of vacation, and 12 holidays including end of year winter break), and partial scholarships for children of eligible employees to attend Cornell or other accredited institutions.

As a nonprofit science and conservation organization and a vibrant unit of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, we offer the resources of a world-class university and the impact of an innovative nonprofit organization supported by more than 100,000 members and donors.

The Lab has 200 staff and 12 interdisciplinary programs. Scientists and artists, engineers and conservationists, educators and app developers, multimedia producers and students, support staff and volunteers, all work together here, along with local and online communities and partners around the world.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion in our workplace as we join with people from all backgrounds and walks of life to share a love for nature and a commitment to protecting our planet.

Staff Openings

Executive Director

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a new executive director to build on the Lab’s record of scientific innovation and international engagement to address critical environmental challenges through the lens of birds. We seek a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader and esteemed scientist who is passionate about advancing both professional and public understanding of birds and their habitats. The new executive director will embrace the special capacity of the Lab to use birds to inspire diverse audiences to appreciate and protect the natural world. For details and information on how to apply, please see our Executive Director search page, and download the Leadership Profile (PDF).

Postdoctoral Associate in Quantitative Ecology

In this NSF-funded project, you will work with an interdisciplinary group of ecologists and data analysts, relying on “big data” to examine population changes in birds. The goal is to understand current declines and move toward recovery and conservation of migratory birds. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Cornell University has instituted a hiring freeze as part of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This listing of available positions at the Lab will resume when the freeze is lifted. For questions, contact Jen Harris at 607-255-3087.

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

Bartels Science Illustrators

The application process for the 2020-21 illustrator position is currently on hold because of the Cornell University hiring freeze. If you would like to be notified by email when a new application deadline is announced, please email bartelsartists@cornell.edu. Those who have already applied will have the option to submit new applications with updated materials if they choose.

Student Opportunities

Each year, dozens of students gain hands-on experience at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Come join a research project, assist with education and outreach, or apply your talents in a way that you envision. You can apply for one of the paid or volunteer positions below. Or learn about our mission and programs, then identify relevant faculty or mentors, or staff listed in our directory. Inquire about volunteering or earning credit for a project that matches your interests. (Note: high school students must be at least 16 years of age to volunteer.)

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 mb252@cornell.edu. Nominations are considered on a rolling basis throughout the year.

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 mb252@cornell.edu.

Summer

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 mb252@cornell.edu. Nominations for the forthcoming summer should be submitted by March 31.

Volunteer Positions

The Visitor Center is currently closed and the Lab will not be taking new volunteers until the university’s hiring freeze is lifted.

We are looking for volunteers of all abilities 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 Visitor Center volunteer corps!

From our Visitor Center overlooking Sapsucker Woods Pond, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 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 programs.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Helping with youth education programs
  • Leading guided tours
  • Assisting with outreach efforts
  • Helping out in the Adelson Library
Requirements
  • 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
Benefits
  • 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 Cornell Lab of Ornithology please contact Jennifer Smith at jls39n@cornell.edu.

Don't miss a thing! Join our email list