Careers in the Plant Sciences

Rare Plant Conservation Scientist

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Position Title: Rare Plant Conservation Scientist
Position Type: Permanent Position
Application Review Begins: Monday, September 11, 2023
Application Deadline: Sunday, March 31, 2024
Institution: Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Department/Division: Conservation and Resesarch
Field (e.g., systematics): Rare Plant
City: Santa Barbara, CA, United States
General Information: As the Rare Plant Conservation Specialist, you’ll act as a leading member of the Rare Plant Conservation Team by designing projects and raising funding to support the Garden’s rare plant conservation work. Your duties will range from implementing existing projects in the field, lab, and nursery to analyzing data, writing reports, and publishing peer-reviewed journal articles. You’ll also have the opportunity to envision and seek funding for new projects that complement the rare plant conservation program. Your work will focus on understanding, protecting, and restoring California’s rare plants via field surveys, conservation seed banking, applied research, collaboration within and outside of the Garden, and education and outreach related to your work. We are especially interested in candidates with a combined love of fieldwork and robust statistical/analytical training to help us tackle the multifaceted questions we must address to conserve rare plants and prevent extinction. This full-time (40 hours per week) exempt position reports to the Senior Rare Plant Conservation Scientist (previously called the Rare Plant Biologist) and works primarily with the Rare Plant Conservation Team. This position is being offered at the principal investigator (PI) level and requires a Ph.D. in botany, plant ecology, conservation, or a related field. Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a cover letter detailing your interest in the position and relevant qualifications, and a writing sample (e.g., a peer-reviewed publication, report, or other product) with your application.
Qualifications/Requirements: You Will Definitely Need:

A Ph.D. from an accredited university in the field of botany, plant ecology, conservation, or a related field
Experience designing and executing scientific research projects
A demonstrated track record of fundraising to support scientific research
Strong analytical skills, such as proficiency in using R and conducting multivariate analyses and/or experience using models related to demography, climate change, habitat suitability, etc.
Excellent attention to detail and strong organizational skills
A supportive and approachable disposition conducive to acting as a supervisor and mentor
Reliable transportation to/from the Garden
Valid US driver’s license
Support for the Garden’s mission and goals

It Would be Nice if You Had:

Lead or co-authorship on at least one peer-reviewed publication
Experience using ArcGIS to create maps and analyze data
Experience with the California flora or plants of the US intermountain western
Responsibilities: What You’ll Do:

Research Duties

Work with the Senior Rare Plant Conservation Scientist to maintain and expand a vigorous applied conservation program focused on California’s rare plants
Design and implement research based in the field, lab, and/or greenhouse that focuses on rare plant conservation, plant ecology, reproductive biology, demography, niche and/or climate modeling, and other relevant topics based on the skills and interests of the selected candidate
Analyze and interpret data using appropriate one-way and multivariate statistical analyses, such as ANOVA, multiple logistical regression, principal components analysis, etc.
Foster collaboration within and outside of the Garden

Fieldwork Duties

Participate in fieldwork, including rare plant surveys, reading research and monitoring plots, native seed collection, seeding and out-planting, etc., on single and multi-day field trips
Collect data using Field Maps for ArcGIS
Collect and curate seeds according to national and international best practices for rare plant conservation
Collect and curate herbarium specimens

Office Duties

Successfully pursue funding to support rare plant conservation and research, including developing and managing associated project budgets
Ensure completion of data analysis, evaluation of projects, and dissemination of results in the form of formal reports and peer-reviewed publications
Manage projects to timely completion on budget
Supervise and mentor at least one technician on the Rare Plant Conservation Team

Education and Outreach

Share your passion for conservation with the public via lectures, workshops, and outreach events
Participate in Garden tours as needed
Present oral and poster presentations at scientific meetings
Occasionally offer field-based opportunities to the public

You Must Be Able To:

Quickly learn the California flora, if not already familiar, and use dichotomous keys and other resources to identify unfamiliar taxa
Fundraise via grants and contracts
Design and implement original research and recovery projects, including preparing and managing project budgets
Analyze data using modern statistical and modeling techniques
Manage projects to timely completion on budget
Supervise and mentor at least one rare plant conservation technician
Use a computer proficiently, including Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, and learn new computer programs as necessary
Work under pressure and meet deadlines
Communicate well both verbally and in writing
Work autonomously with a high degree of accountability and also cooperatively with colleagues at the Garden and other institutions, as needed
Contribute to a positive work environment that fosters learning and team-building
Occasionally perform strenuous physical work, including:
Working outdoors in a nursery setting and/or in the field in variable weather conditions
Sitting for up to 2 hours at a time and using a computer or microscope for lengthy periods
Standing/walking for extended periods of time
Occasionally working long field days, sometimes in excess of 8-10 hours, including bending, squatting, walking stairs, and hiking rugged trails with uneven footing
Safely lifting and carrying up to 40 lbs.
Application Instructions (submission methods, etc.): Please apply on our website. Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a cover letter detailing your interest in the position and relevant qualifications, and a writing sample (e.g., a peer-reviewed publication, report, or other product) with your application.

More About Us

The Garden is a beautiful place to work, and your work will directly impact rare plant conservation in California! This position is designed to enhance and expand the Garden’s existing rare plant conservation program based on the interest and expertise of the selected candidate. In this role, you are often outdoors. In addition to beautiful views, birds, and fantastic flora, outdoor work environments include exposure to extreme temperature fluctuations, rain, dust, allergens, poison oak, insects, small wild animals, and sun exposure. Willingness and ability to camp in remote areas is essential (and hopefully also a perk).


The employee must be able to perform the essential functions of the position satisfactorily, and if requested, reasonable accommodations will be made to enable employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job, absent undue hardship.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden retains the right to change or assign other duties to this position.

Expected Timeline

An ideal candidate for this position will be available to begin work between November 2023 and January 2024.
Compensation Range: 70,000 to 76,000 per year
Contact Name: Emily Brawley,