Old Opportunities

There are opportunities to work on the Echinacea project as a volunteer, a research intern, summer field researcher, REU intern, graduate student, undergraduate lab investigator, short-term undergraduate intern, K-12 educator RET participant (Research Experience for Teacher), research collaborator, or visiting teacher/researcher. We’ll post information as new opportunities become available, but feel free to contact us.

Summer field researcher

two researchers surveying echinacea
Hillary and Lauren mapping Echinacea plants

If you are enthusiastic and want to gain field research experience, please read about summer field research positions available for this summer. These are great internships or summer co-ops for those interested in one or more of these topics: insects, plants, ecology, evolution, conservation biology, habitat fragmentation, pollination, tallgrass prairie, and geographic information systems (GIS). We welcome applications to these positions from anyone. We encourage members of groups underrepresented in science to apply to all positions. Some spots on the summer team are reserved for undergraduate students through the NSF-funded REU program…



REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) participant

The Echinacea project offers several REU summer field research positions. Please read the general description for summer field research positions and note the details for both REU programs. All REU participants must be enrolled as an undergraduate student during the upcoming summer and must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students in groups underrepresented in science are encouraged to apply.

Postdoctoral researcher

A postdoctoral position is available on the Echinacea project. The postdoc will collaborate with Stuart Wagenius (Chicago Botanic Garden) and Ruth Shaw (University of Minnesota) on quantitative genetic and demographic studies of the fragmented population and associated field experiments and will have the opportunity to participate in developing evolutionary models that incorporate our accumulating understanding of genetic and demographic processes within the study system.  There is considerable potential for the postdoc to develop further research projects pertinent to the overall goals of this study.

Volunteer at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Many volunteers help with all aspects of research at the Chicago Botanic Garden, September through May. We always need help 1. cleaning seedheads, 2. scanning, counting, and weighing seeds, and 3. extracting DNA & running PCR. We also usually have a few other projects going on involving microscope work, curating our insect collection, working in the molecular lab, taking photographs, database maintenance, web development, or something else. Also, we can always use help with data entry! Let Stuart know your interests, skills & expertise and we’ll see how you can help the Echinacea project!

Callin assesses reproductive status of an Echinacea plant
Callin assesses reproductive status of an Echinacea plant

Graduate student

There are several ways for graduate students to get involved in the Echinacea project. Ruth and Stuart advise students in several programs. Current students are working on a variety of thesis projects. Please contact Ruth about programs at the University of Minnesota. Please contact Stuart about programs at Northwestern University and at the University of Illinois–Chicago. Please contact Stuart about working at the research site.

Undergraduate during academic year

If you are a current undergraduate student interested in an independent study or a short-term internship (e.g. J-term), please contact Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden or Ruth at the University of Minnesota.
We are seeking highly motivated Chicago-area undergraduates interested in gaining experience and training in molecular genetics and population biology research. We are studying how pollen moves in prairie plant populations using Echinacea as a model species. We collected seeds from tagged plants and are using DNA fingerprinting techniques to determine which nearby plant is the pollen donor for each seed. There are a number of aspects of this research that students could turn into an independent research project for academic credit. Past students have presented their work at conferences and written up their project as part of their senior thesis.

For more information or to apply, please email Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

K-12 science educators

Are you a K-12 science educator interested in gaining summer field research experience? Please consider this paid professional development opportunity that involves collaborating with Echinacea project research scientists.

During a summer at the research site in western Minnesota, teachers will participate in the design and implementation of new experiments, assisting with ongoing field projects, modeling or analysis of experimental data, or other activities that will contribute to the Echinacea project. Teachers will develop a plan to bring their new experiences and knowledge at the emerging frontiers of science back into their classrooms (with funding to support the plan!). Teachers may also help develop a summer research program for their students. We are looking for educators interested in integrating research and education about one or more of these topics: insects, plants, pollination, ecology, evolution, habitat fragmentation, conservation biology, modeling, geographic information systems (GIS), computer modeling, spatial mathematics.

If you are interested, please contact Stuart with a brief email explaining your interests and qualifications. We are particularly interested in working with teachers at urban or rural schools and those at less well-endowed school districts. We urge Teach for America teachers to apply. Also, we encourage the participation of science educators who are members of underrepresented groups. Contact Stuart before 22 November to be considered for a position during the next summer. Note: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and be currently employed as a K-12 science teacher or community college science faculty.

Read more about this opportunity on our new page.