Cleveland Museum of Natural History — Assistant Curator of Planetary Systems

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH), founded in 1920, is located in the heart of University Circle, five miles east of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Considered among the top 10 institutions of its kind in North America, the Museum offers an incredible visitor experience, attracting roughly 275,000 visitors a year. There are more than 140 public education programs and over 80,000 students served annually.  CMNH employs about 130 people.

Building on its strong foundation of excellence in education and research, the Museum is poised to transform itself. CMNH will invite and engage a broader audience in the exploration of science and the natural world by revolutionizing the way it presents natural history. The Museum has currently launched a capital campaign to support a dramatic renovation and expansion of its facilities and exhibits. This ambitious plan will position the Museum to play a leading role in regional and national efforts to improve science education and increase scientific literacy.

The CMNH is seeking a dynamic, creative and energetic individual who is passionate about the Museum and its mission; exhibits strong project management and organizational skills; is looking for new challenges; and enjoys working in an enthusiastic and fast paced environment.

Summary:  The Cleveland Museum of Natural History seeks to invest in a deeper understanding of ancient environmental change to contribute to current interpretations and enhance future predictions of global change. Tapping into the millions of years of accumulated data, the CMNH envisions playing an active role in charting a sustainable future for humans. We seek a highly-motivated scientist capable of developing a modern, relevant research program, in a Museum focused on connecting people with the natural world. The Museum seeks a strong communicator that can inspire, connect, and engage with a broad audience on the importance and relevance of science and nature.

The successful candidate will join an interdisciplinary group of researchers to incorporate the use of Museum collections into understanding how Earth’s environments have changed through deep time. A strong background in geology or paleontology are critical. Understanding historical climate and environmental change and regional implications for the Great Lakes of the United States is of particular interest to the Museum. The successful candidate will develop a research program that may include, but is not limited to, 1) modeling past and future climate change on local and global scales, 2) geochemistry and extinctions, 3) the mechanisms of paleoenvironmental change through time. They will help provide oversight for the Earth Sciences Collections which include over 300,000 specimens from vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, paleobotany and mineralogy. A highlight of these collections are the fossils from the Cleveland Shale Member, which preserve evidence of a Devonian-aged ecosystem during a time of catastrophic extinction events and additional samples can be collected locally. The Museum houses laboratory spaces including a Molecular Lab for extant material and an Earth Sciences Lab equipped for fossil preparation, thin sectioning, microscopy and paleomolecular analyses. Additionally, the Museum has 66 natural area preserves across Northern Ohio that can be used for monitoring and real-time experiments. Other resources pertinent to the development of an impactful, relevant research program on paleoenvironment include collaboration with a diversity of curatorial and collections staff and access to a variety of Museum collections, as well as opportunities to contribute to Museum programming, exhibits and educational outreach.

The curatorial staff at the CMNH are expected to develop research programs, in their appointed area, that integrate with Museum strategy and vision, collaborate across the Museum and the region, incorporate student training, incorporate public outreach, support public programs, enhance institutional collections, and attract external funding. A strong commitment to connecting people with nature through science and natural history is desired. The CMNH maintains an affiliation agreement with Case Western Reserve University for curator adjunct appointments, within the Department of Biology, that enables both teaching and graduate student advisement. Curators at the CMNH also provide oversight and direction of the collections through collaboration and interaction with the collections management staff. The CMNH is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly in its candidate selection and hiring process.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities (Must be able to perform the essential functions of this position with or without reasonable accommodation.)

  • Establish and build a research program that integrates with Museum strategy, programs, and community engagement.
  • Function as a science communicator in support of the Museum’s mission and strategy to inspire, connect, and engage with a broad audience on the importance and relevance of science and nature.
  • Work with cross-institutional teams to provide scientific content, ensure scientific accuracy, and plan high quality experiences that serve the largest possible number of participants from diverse backgrounds.
  • Serve as content provider on project teams, guiding the collaborative development and implementation of scientific content for exhibitions, education programs, and other programmatic projects.
  • Seek and secure funding to support research activities.
  • Publish research in disciplinary journals, books, reports, and general interest pieces.
  • Enhance use, digitization, and quality of CMNH collections.
  • Train graduate students through service on graduate committees or graduate qualifying committees.
  • Oversee research assistant staff members as well as volunteers, students, and other specialized staff involved in research activities.
  • Responsible for tracking research activity, progress, and impact for institutional use.
  • Work with collections management staff to approve loans, collections acquisitions, deaccessions, and major collections changes within the collections of appointment.
  • Responsible for providing advisement and assistance for the systematic arrangement of specimens within the collections of assignment.
  • Adheres to the CMNH Manual of Research and Collections Policies.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the Director of Research and Collections or management as required.
  • Performs all duties according to established museum operating, safety, and environmental and quality policies.

Qualifications and Required Application Materials:

  • Applicants must hold a Ph.D. by the time of appointment.
  • Applicants should submit:
    1. Curriculum vitae
    2. Statement of research intent
    3. Statement of Museum integration that addresses interest and experience with student training, public outreach, and Museum programming
    4. Names and contact information for three references
  • Review of applications will begin on April 15, 2021 and continue until the position is filled.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities:

  • Knowledge of best-practice research methods in area of training.
  • The ability to plan, direct, and report on research activities.
  • Excellent organizational and attention to detail skills.
  • The ability to deal effectively with public and private agencies and individuals in matters relating to research and collections activities at the Museum.
  • Strong computer operating system and database management experience. Proficient knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite products that include Word, Excel, Power Point, and Office 365.
  • Ability to communicate effectively both written and orally.
  • Ability to work successfully with Museum members, employees and the general public.
  • Strong problem solving and listening skills.
  • Ability to manage staff assistants and volunteers.
  • Ability to function in a fast pace environment with time constraints, and within established deadlines.
  • Advanced working knowledge of collections database systems.
  • Ability to speak effectively with groups or donors, communicating the Museum’s mission as well as why collections and research are necessary and relevant.
  • Ability to serve Museum visitors in a friendly and professional manner.
  • Ability to communicate a passion for science to diverse audiences.
  • Ability to work with an interdisciplinary professional team.
  • Ability to function and act independently.
  • Experience managing staff.
  • Ability to work collaboratively, in a leadership role on large-scale projects.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History