The Community Science Institute (CSI) (communityscience.org), founded in 2000 and located in Ithaca, NY, seeks an individual who is proficient in wet chemistry at the lab bench and who shares our organization’s vision of community-based science.
CSI’s Mission: The mission of CSI is to foster and support water quality monitoring in partnership with community volunteer groups; we aim to empower a better understanding of our shared natural resources and how to manage them for long-term sustainability and protection.
What CSI Does: We partner with over three dozen volunteer groups in our region and coordinate their collection of stream samples from early spring to late fall. Volunteers transport samples to our nationally certified testing lab (NYSDOH-ELAP ID# 11790) for analysis of nutrients, salt, suspended solids, pathogenic bacteria, and more. We then disseminate the results online on our free public database (database.communityscience.org).
We also conduct biological monitoring of streams. This involves the collection and analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI). Here we partner with volunteers of all skill levels and also post the results online.
Each summer we train and coordinate over 90 “HABs Harrier” volunteers participating in our Cayuga Lake Harmful Algal Bloom (HABs) Monitoring Program to patrol the Cayuga Lake shoreline for HABs. Suspicious bloom samples are collected and immediately transported to our lab. If we confirm the presence of cyanobacteria microscopically, we then determine the concentration of microcystin toxin by certified EPA Method 546 and post results online within 24 to 72 hours of sample collection.
Finally, the CSI lab serves as a major provider of fee-based, certified drinking water testing services for the Tompkins County Health Department, Cornell University, businesses, and private homeowners throughout the region. This provides a valuable service to our community while earning fees that help support our nonprofit mission.
Responsibilities and Opportunities of the Position: The CSI lab is certified and regulated by the New York State Department of Health. The quality of our results is on par with certified data produced by EPA, NYSDEC, and their contract labs. CSI’s Certificates of Approval list over 30 manual methods, including colorimetric methods for phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients, gravimetric methods for suspended and dissolved solids, titrimetric methods for chloride and other mineral parameters, and ELISA Method 546 for microcystin toxin produced by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). The successful applicant will be expected to attain proficiency in each of these and to perform
them to standards described in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including extensive controls for bias and precision.
CSI takes a team approach to work, and while each staff member has specific responsibilities, all are cross-trained and share administrative, customer service, and other core organizational tasks. As a result, in addition to wet chemistry at the lab bench, the successful applicant will have opportunities to engage in activities that further CSI’s mission. These can include, for example, writing articles for our “Water Bulletin” newsletter and our website, helping with grant applications, giving public presentations as part of CSI’s Water and Community program, and contributing to the development and implementation of our 4-H2O youth education program.
Minimum qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, or related discipline including four semesters of lab work. Familiarity with UV-Vis spectrophotometry, titration, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), and other wet chemistry procedures. Ability to get along with a small team of co-workers and thrive in this problem-solving environment. Conscientious and painstaking attention to detail. Outstanding oral and written communication skills. Facility with MS Office. Individuals with advanced degrees who have an interest in science as public service are welcome to apply.
Other qualifications: Professional laboratory, administrative, or educational experience.
Hours, compensation, and benefits: Full-time, 40 hours/week. Some flexibility in hours. Ability to work occasional weekends and evenings, if workloads are heavy. Hourly rate $17.00–$20.00, depending on qualifications. Time-and-a-half for overtime. Seven paid federal holidays and ten paid free/vacation days per year. Vacation time is flexible, including paid and unpaid leave, and depends on the availability of other staff to cover the workload. Health insurance and pension plan are available.
Application: Please email your resume, a cover letter stating why you are interested in the position, and three questions you would ask about the Community Science Institute if you were invited for an interview to: Dr. Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute, email@example.com. Please note: A cover letter and three questions are required as part of your application. Applications are due by April 30. All applications will be reviewed and Zoom interviews scheduled on a rolling basis. A follow-up in-person interview and a visit to our lab may be scheduled if mutually agreeable. A hiring decision will be made by May 17 or sooner with the goal of an early summer start date.