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 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

Birds of the World Communications Assistant

Birds of the World is the Cornell Lab’s signature scientific publication and the largest, most comprehensive avian database in the world. It is available by subscription to individuals and institutions. The communications assistant will help support subscribers, working with a team of editors, consultants, developers, and a worldwide community of contributors. Duties include content updates, editorial solicitations, reviews, and a consistent publishing schedule. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Donor Relations Manager

The successful candidate for this position will be an integral member of the Lab of Ornithology’s development team, helping maintain positive and mutually rewarding relations between the Lab and its supporters. Duties include planning and implementing personalized stewardship; creating stewardship reports and acknowledgements, making use of PowerPoint, video, and email; coordinating donor recognition events and trips; and tracking of stewardship activities. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Extension Associate

This position is available within the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Extension Associate will facilitate the use of bioacoustics and passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) in wildlife research and conservation around the world. In collaboration with the other workshop instructors, the associate will be responsible for expanding in-person and virtual workshops and trainings, assisting researchers who are initiating PAM projects, collaborating on established projects, building a global network of practitioners, and helping to organize regional conferences in Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Financial Analyst

The successful candidate for the financial analyst position will serve as a strong customer service-minded team member, providing high level, confidential financial support to the Cornell Lab. The analyst will oversee all program accounting activities and collaborate to create and monitor annual budgets, including monthly financial reports and account reconciliations. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Assistant

The Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative helps teach private landowners and land trusts how to use birds to amplify conservation efforts. Key activities including building partnerships, providing training, and offering grants to fund and help facilitate high priority, bird-focused conservation projects. This is a part time, 20 hours a week, benefits eligible position. Learn more about it and how to apply.

Leadership Giving Officer

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a leadership giving officer to join its Development team. The primary focus of this role is the discovery and engagement of potential leadership- and major-gift-level donors. The leadership gift officer must be a professional and persuasive representative of the Cornell Lab and the University with excellent communications skills and the ability to quickly learn about issues related to conservation, scientific research, citizen science, education and ornithology. This position will require extensive travel. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Senior Director of Information Technology

The Senior Director of Information Technology will work with program leaders and developers to provide vision, integration, and support for the organization’s growth in digital technology, ensure cybersecurity, enhance digital marketing capabilities, and maximize accessibility of all online content. This includes acting as an architect and steward of the Lab’s data, digital resources, and technical infrastructure, overseeing data collection and access to the Lab’s data through online platforms—which have grown 20% per year for the last 15 years—and supporting the Cornell Lab’s rapidly growing global online learning platform (Bird Academy). Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a Senior Director of Marketing and Communications to develop and direct strategic planning and execution of integrated branding, marketing, and communications to amplify the Lab’s mission to understand and protect birds and the natural world, and to engage the public broadly in these efforts. Candidates should have a successful background in marketing and communications, including experience in branding, licensing, corporate relations, fundraising or recruitment, digital and print communications, social media, web and mobile development, media relations, and crisis communications. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

Systems Administrator

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a Systems Administrator to join our IT and core services team, which supports the Lab’s data and media archives. You will work closely with the Lead Systems/Media Engineer and Network Support Specialist and take primary ownership for several Lab IT core services. This will require a broad base of IT knowledge to backstop the entire IT Team as they support the remainder of the services. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

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

Bartels Science Illustrator

The Bartels Science Illustration Program offers opportunities to early-career illustrators seeking to gain experience in the field of science illustration and expand their portfolios while working on projects that help the Lab achieve its broader mission. This unique visiting artist residency is a full-time, paid temporary appointment spanning from 6-9 months. The chosen Bartels Illustrator will need to be able to communicate ideas to others and work collaboratively and inclusively to develop visuals that further the Lab’s mission. Learn more about this position and how to apply.

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 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


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.

Science Journalism Positions for Cornell Undergraduates, Summer 2022

Are you a Cornell undergraduate who would love the opportunity to share your passion for science communication and to connect with the public about birds, nature, and conservation? Gain valuable hands-on experience in reporting, writing, and production in a full-time science journalism position at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology this summer. Work with the Lab’s science editors to develop story ideas and pitch them for publication by Living Bird magazine, the All About Birds website, or other Cornell Lab channels. Bring your ideas to life and share scientific insights with your readers by interviewing scientists, students, or other experts and weaving their voices into your story. Produce compelling print or online articles, including opportunities to assist with production related to photography, illustration, data visualizations, multimedia, fact checking, editing, social media, and digital content management.

This 10-week full-time summer position includes a $5,000 stipend from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Science Communication Fund, thanks to Jay Branegan ‘72 and Stefania Pittaluga. The position will be designed for students with a demonstrated interest in science communication, a desire to develop journalistic writing and editing skills, and curiosity to explore career opportunities. To apply, you must be a Cornell undergraduate, and we encourage applicants with any level of prior experience. 1) Prepare a cover letter that explains your interest in science communication and your reasons for wanting to work at the Lab of Ornithology (this is a very important part of the application as we look for students who are genuinely curious about and committed to learning and developing their skills and opportunities in science journalism specifically, including on topics related to birds and biodiversity); 2) Attach a resume including experience related to writing, journalism, or other communications and outreach (prior experience is helpful but not required); 3) Provide two examples of your writing that best demonstrate your ability to connect with a general audience on topics related to science and nature (we’ll be looking for pieces that demonstrate your knack for storytelling and your ability to write in a clear, accessible, and compelling manner for lay readers). Send your application to Miyoko Chu, senior director of communications, at Submit your application by February 7, 2022. We will consider applications on a rolling basis and will make offers by March 1, 2022.

Volunteer Positions

The Lab is not taking new volunteers at this time. 

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
  • 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 Cornell Lab of Ornithology please contact Jennifer Smith.

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