Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks by Charlotte Holden.

How To Apply

Deadline ended: The call for applications for the 2023 residency has closed.

The next application deadline will be in summer 2024.*

Residency period: Fall 2024 (August 2024–July 2025)

Residency duration: 6–12 months

Location: Ithaca, New York

*Please note that changes to the timing of the residency reflect realignment with the Cornell University academic calendar, starting in the fall of each year.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is looking for an Illustrator to join the Bartels Science Illustration Program for a unique visiting artist residency. This is a full-time, paid temporary appointment. The residency begins in the fall of each year and spans 6–12 months (depending on participant availability).

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 Cornell Lab achieve its broader mission. This program has been highly beneficial for both visiting illustrators and the organization, offering artists the opportunity to work with a range of departments including Communications (Living Bird magazine), Membership, K–12 Education, Higher Education (undergraduate classes), and directly with many Cornell Lab scientists to communicate important research to the public. Visiting artists benefit from the mentorship and supervision of the staff biological illustrator as well as access to a broad range of specialists, making the residency a truly unique experience that results in a diverse portfolio.

The Bartels Science Illustration Program is well known in the professional field of science illustration as a rare and valuable opportunity for professionals with substantial biological illustration skills who are at the portfolio-building stage of their early career.

The works created by visiting illustrators are often featured prominently in Living Bird magazine, scientific publications, websites, as well as various teaching and outreach materials. An important goal of the program is to foster the professional development of the Bartels Illustrators by providing them with opportunities to refine their skills while expanding their professional portfolios. At the same time, the Bartels Illustrators collaborate within a stimulating production environment and immerse themselves in the Cornell Lab’s culture of conservation, outreach, and scientific excellence. The works created by Bartels Illustrators contribute directly to helping the Cornell Lab inform and inspire our many audiences.

Bartels Illustrators have access to many resources at the Cornell Lab and across Cornell University, including the two million study specimens in the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates; project oversight and mentorship through the staff biological illustrator; collaborations with cutting-edge scientists and researchers; participation in science communication, public education, and conservation media groups; access to Cornell University’s extensive library system; and the opportunity to study original artworks by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, George M. Sutton, Andrew Goldsworthy, Charley Harper, Maya Lin, James Prosek, as well as Jane Kim and other former members of the impressive community of Bartels Illustrators.

New Opportunities

Bartels Illustrators have the option to build teaching experience through hosting workshops or assisting with the Cornell undergraduate course The Art and Science of Birds. This popular course taught by the staff biological illustrator is offered during the spring semester and provides those interested with the chance to contribute to class lectures and art demonstrations. Bartels Illustrators will also have the option to create their own personalized workshops for Lab staff and the public. These course and workshop offerings are celebrated by participants and have become a highlight of the Bartels Science Illustration Program, providing an additional form of professional credential for those interested in teaching. No previous teaching experience is expected or required.

An additional exciting opportunity will allow artists interested in creating field-guide illustrations to collaborate with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of the World team. With over 21,000 color illustrations and tens of thousands of media assets including photographs and videos, this resource provides comprehensive life histories of birds from across the world. This project will appeal to artists who aim to further their skills in producing accurate and detailed bird illustrations for identification purposes.


Applicants must meet the requirements listed below in addition to providing a portfolio of 8–10 images of their work that demonstrate experience and skill in the illustration of wildlife and natural subjects including birds. Preference will be given to applicants whose portfolios accurately depict birds, regardless of artistic medium or personal style. Applicants should be at an “early-career” level in biological illustration or a related field.

As the Bartels Illustrator, you will need to work as part of a team and also independently, contributing to a productive work environment. You will also need to be able to communicate ideas to others and work collaboratively and inclusively to develop visuals that further the Lab’s mission. Additional requirements include:

  • Associate’s degree and 1–2 years of relevant experience or equivalent combination
  • Able to deliver work on schedule while maintaining the ability to incorporate feedback through the production process
  • Attention to biological accuracy; illustrator will consult with their direct supervisor and other Lab experts before final completion and delivery of artwork
  • Willingness to work on a broad range of projects that come up during the residency with various subject matters, audiences, and applications
  • Respect for and sensitivity to differences of culture, identity, and background in the workplace and with external stakeholders

There are a few other qualifications that we view as incredibly helpful in this role, including:

  • Certification in scientific illustration or a degree in a related field, and/or equivalent work experience as demonstrated in the portfolio
  • College-level coursework related to science illustration including fine-art courses such as observational drawing; courses in related fields such as illustration and graphic design; as well as biology and the sciences
  • A passion for further developing your skills in ornithological art
  • Experience and skill in drawing and painting birds in one or more mediums or artistic styles
  • General professional interest in science and science communication
  • Interest in art instruction and sharing artistic techniques with others through informal workshops or demonstrations
  • Experience in teaching (helpful but not required)

Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Additional Info

The call for applications has closed for the 2023 residency.

The next call for applications will open summer 2024.

You must submit both a resume/CV and a cover letter in which you describe your relevant background and your reasons for being interested in our scientific illustration program. Your application must also include submission of a portfolio of 6–10 illustration samples that demonstrates experience and skill in the illustration of wildlife and natural subjects including birds. It’s recommended to combine all files (CV, cover letter and portfolio image files) into one PDF file when uploading. 

For more detailed instructions on how to apply to a job at Cornell, visit How We Hire on the HR website. If you are an internal employee, please log in to Workday.

Please direct queries via email to Jillian Ditner, Program Coordinator