Local recruitment: Research Assistant in Limnology and Food Web Dynamics

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 its 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

The Research Assistant will conduct field sampling and laboratory analyses for the autotrophic ecology and invertebrate ecology programs at the IISD-ELA research facility in northwestern Ontario, Canada. The Research Assistant will primarily assist the Biologist – Food Web with their field and laboratory efforts at IISD-ELA, gaining experience in methodology in both limnology and food web dynamics. The incumbent may also assist with data analysis and data entry. 


  • Collect and preserve samples and data for a variety of limnological parameters, including water quality, phytoplankton, and zooplankton.
  • Collect, preserve, and prepare algae and invertebrate samples.
  • Operate various field vehicles (all-terrain vehicles, trucks, vans) on highways and gravel roads.
  • Use a variety of watercraft, including boats with outboard motors and canoes.
  • Complete detailed and accurate field notes.
  • Assist in laboratory experiments (e.g., algal photosynthesis).
  • Enter data into databases (including Microsoft Excel, LIMS, Aquarius, ArcGIS).
  • May be occasionally required to assist other teams (fish, chem lab, hydrolimnology, toxicology) with field sampling and laboratory analyses.
  • May be occasionally required to assist on various projects (microplastics, oil spill, etc.) with field sampling and laboratory analyses.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Enrollment in a university or college program leading to a degree in biology or environmental sciences.
  • Keen and hard-working.
  • Ability to do fieldwork involving manual labour, such as hiking and lifting heavy objects (up to 50 lbs).
  • Willing to work long hours in diverse conditions (e.g., hot, cold, rain, buggy).
  • Ability to work safely in a remote field environment that requires flexibility and teamwork.
  • Interested/willing to live in a remote location for up to 4 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

  • Work experience in environmental sciences.
  • Knowledge of field sampling/water quality or limnological sampling.
  • Experience operating small motorized vessels with an outboard motor and all-terrain vehicles.
  • Experience working in a laboratory setting.
  • Organizational skills.
  • Proficiency with R, Microsoft Excel, and Access.

Work Conditions

The successful applicant will be required to have updated vaccinations 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 position from May to August or May to November 2023.

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

Application deadline: February 20, 8 a.m. 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 are 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 in the annual report, on 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 p.m. CST.




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