Local recruitment: Research Assistant in Fish Ecology

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Kenora, ON, Canada 🇨🇦

IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) is one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. It features a collection of 58 small lakes and their watersheds in northwestern Ontario, Canada. For over 50 years, scientists at IISD-ELA have conducted whole-ecosystem experiments and made significant scientific discoveries related to issues such as acid rain, mercury from air pollution, algal blooms, and pharmaceutical chemicals in water. The facility is operated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an independent think tank headquartered in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory—the traditional land of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Ojibwe-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and homeland of the MĂ©tis Nation.  

IISD-ELA acknowledges that the research facility is located on Treaty 3 lands, and the care of these lands during experimentation and restoration to their original state is implicit in its mission. Many regional schools come to the facility to learn more about the science of aquatic ecosystems and how humans serve a role in sharing and working with one another to protect these resources. We encourage candidates to visit our website (https://www.iisd.org/ela/) to find out more about our organization.

About the position 

We are seeking a motivated Research Assistant (Fish) to spend the 2023 field season at the unique IISD-ELA research facility to assist with field-based research on fish ecology. The successful candidate will be involved in data collection for whole-ecosystem experiments and our long-term ecological monitoring program. The incumbent will participate in field activities related to fish capture, population estimation (via mark-recapture), morphometry, non-lethal collection of samples to assess various parameters (age, diet, contaminants, etc.), habitat characterization, and lethal broadscale monitoring efforts, among other projects. The work of the fish crew is highly seasonal, with intensive mark-recapture efforts in spring and fall and a range of other tasks during the summer months. 


  • Work with a small crew of researchers to maintain the IISD-ELA fish research program in 2023. 
  • Collect, identify, measure, and mark small- and large-bodied fish species in experimental and reference lakes. 
  • Perform laboratory tasks, including fish dissections, tissue sampling, ageing structure preparation, diet analysis, and sample preservation. 
  • Conduct broadscale monitoring surveys of remote lakes, including bathymetry and collection of biological, chemical, and physical data and samples. 
  • Download data from various data-logging devices. 
  • Perform profiles of lakes using multi-parameter field instruments. 
  • Enter and QA/QC field notebook data using Microsoft Excel and Access databases. 
  • Use a variety of watercraft, including canoes, zodiacs, and boats with outboard motors. 
  • Construct/install/maintain field and laboratory equipment as needed. 
  • Operate field vehicles (i.e., ATVs, trucks, vans) on highways and gravel roads. 
  • Occasionally assist other field crews. 
  • Assist with education and outreach efforts as they concern the fish crew (e.g., field station tours, fish lab demonstrations, artist-in-residence field trips, field courses, etc.), as well as media/communications requests for online materials. 
  • Work and correspond with the fish crew’s technician, biologists, scientists, and external project collaborators who are seasonally located both on- and off-site. 
  • Other duties as assigned. 


  • Enrolment in a university or college program leading to a degree in biology, ecology, environmental sciences/studies, or a related discipline, or recent completion (December 2022–April 2023) of such a degree. 
  • A keen and hard-working individual who can work as part of a team. 
  • Ability to work safely in a remote field environment. 
  • Ability to do fieldwork involving manual labour, such as hiking and lifting heavy objects (up to 25 kg/55 lbs). 
  • Willing to work long hours in diverse conditions (e.g., hot, cold, rain, snow, buggy, etc.). 
  • Willing to live in a remote location for up to 6 months in shared accommodations. 
  • Candidates must possess or be willing to obtain valid certifications for the following prior to the start of their term: 
  • First Aid/CPR with AED 
  • Pleasure Craft Operator’s card 
  • Driver’s licence 
  • IISD-ELA will require the completion of a criminal record check and vulnerable sector verification. 

Asset Skills 

  • Experience working outdoors and/or in remote locations. 
  • Work experience in environmental sciences. 
  • Knowledge of field sampling and/or fish identification and dissection. 
  • Experience operating small, motorized vessels with outboard motors. 
  • Experience and/or training in the use of all-terrain vehicles. 
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Access and Excel. 
  • Ability to speak French and/or Ojibwe. 

Work Conditions 

The successful applicant will be required to have up-to-date vaccination against COVID-19. This is a condition of employment due to the congregated living aspect of the facility, and no teleworking being possible. 

IISD-ELA provides on-site living accommodations and food. Accommodations include a bedroom (may be shared or individual), shared washrooms, and lounge areas. Bed linens and laundry facilities are provided on-site. Transportation to and from the field research station to Kenora and Winnipeg will be available on weekends. Occasional weekend transportation to and from Thunder Bay is a possibility as well. More information about the IISD Experimental Lakes Area organization and our research facility can be found at https://www.iisd.org/ela/

Term: The contract is for a full-time, 4-month position (Monday, May 1 to Friday, September 1, 2023) or a full-time 7-month position (Monday, May 1 to Friday, December 1, 2022). 

Compensation: CAD $637 to $835 per week, depending on experience and education. 

Application deadline: Monday, February 20, 2023, at 8:00 am CST  

Application Procedure  

All submissions must be in English. Accommodations for job applicants with disabilities are available on request. 

Candidates must hold appropriate work authorization for Canada. 

Applications will only be accepted through Bamboo HR.  

Please include the following: 

Only those candidates we wish to interview will be contacted. Resumes will be kept on file for 1 year. 

IISD has implemented a COVID-19 vaccination policy that requires employees who are required or choose to be at an office or participate in in-person team events or in-person meetings/events to be fully vaccinated. Anyone unable to be fully vaccinated, either because of a sincerely held religious belief or a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from being fully vaccinated, can request a reasonable accommodation. 

IISD is committed to fostering a more equitable and sustainable world and welcomes candidates who uphold our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, to correct the conditions of social injustice and disadvantage in employment around the world, we encourage candidates from historically marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and those who identify themselves as 2SLGBTQIA+ to apply for this position. Preference will be given to the equity-deserving groups during the hiring process. We offer reasonable accommodations in our recruitment process and seek applicants’ advice on how best to accommodate their needs. Please self-identify and answer our employment equity questionnaire on our applicant tracking system when you apply. 

Additional Fellowship Opportunity 

We’re proud to announce the 2nd annual Dr. David Schindler IISD-ELA Undergraduate Student Fellowship in honour of his incredible legacy in freshwater research. 

The fellowship will be awarded to a student who demonstrates a passion for freshwater science and a strong interest in field research. They will receive CAD 2,000 in addition to their student salary for the summer and will be promoted in our communications (including the annual report, social media etc.). Preference will be given to students who self-identify as Indigenous. 

If you are interested in being considered for the Dr. David Schindler IISD-ELA Undergraduate Student Fellowship in addition to this position, please confirm your interest below and submit a 500-word essay answering this question: “What does the legacy of David Schindler and IISD Experimental Lakes Area mean to you as a budding environmental scientist?” at this link

The deadline for the essay is Friday, March 17, 2023, at 11:59 pm CST. 





You ad could be here!