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Burns & McDonnell Aquatic Ecologist in Downers Grove, Illinois


Burns & McDonnell's regional operation in Chicago is looking for an Aquatic Ecologist for our growing aquatics group. The successful candidate will support project managers in conducting aquatic studies primarily related to Sections 316(a) and (b) as well as 404 and 401 compliance requirements in freshwater rivers and lakes. We are seeking a versatile and motivated professional with applied technical experience, team leadership abilities, and a desire to advance the discipline as well as professionally. (This individual can sit in either the Downers Grove or downtown offices.)

Burns & McDonnell is a 100% employee-owned firm ranked on FORTUNE's List of 100 Best Companies to Work For and voted as a Best Place to Work in Chicago, and in numerous cities across the United States. The Aquatic Ecologist will work within our Environmental Services Global Practice and perform the following duties:

  • Assist project managers in developing the scope of work for aquatic studies and associated cost estimates, data management and analysis, and technical report writing.

  • Plan and lead aquatic field studies (e.g. fisheries, aquatic habitat, water quality, hydrographic) as well as assist with terrestrial studies (e.g. wetlands, terrestrial habitat, wildlife) in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

  • Coordinate with state and federal agencies to obtain approval of work plan and authorizations to implement the work.

  • Coordinate field sampling schedules and maintain and calibrate sampling equipment.

  • Conduct all work in compliance with company and site safety policies.

  • Manage, reduce, analyze, and synthesize large datasets for technical reports and for presentation at industry conferences.

  • Assist with composition of high-quality technical reports and permit applications for various regulatory approvals.

  • Stay abreast of developments relative to the discipline including techniques for sampling and analysis of aquatic data.

  • Assist with technical proposal development and preparation.

  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor's degree in Biology, Environmental Science, Fisheries, Ecology, Natural Resources or a related field. Master’s degree preferred.

  • Prefer 5 years of applicable professional experience conducting aquatic studies in freshwater systems.

  • Demonstrated experience identifying freshwater fish and using fisheries sampling techniques (e.g. electrofishing, ichthyoplankton tows, seining). Mussel identification and/or sampling experience a plus.

  • Previous consulting experience is a plus.

  • Strong research, technical writing, and verbal communication skills.

  • Strong problem-solving skills with initiative to develop creative solutions to changing field conditions or other project challenges.

  • Willingness to assist multidisciplinary teams with related field work such as wetland delineations, bird/bat surveys, endangered species habitat surveys, etc.

  • Willingness to travel with irregular frequency.

  • Must be willing to work independently effectively as well as part of a multidisciplinary team.

  • Ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines.

  • Must be proficient in the use of computer software (i.e., Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

  • Experience using GIS is a plus.

  • Ability to safely lift and carry up to 50 lbs and work outside during all types of weather conditions.

  • Valid driver's license required. In addition, must meet standards to qualify for and maintain the Company's vehicle driving privileges as outlined in the Company's Motor Vehicle Safety Policy.


Job Environmental

Primary Location US-IL-Chicago

Other Locations US-IL-Downers Grove

Schedule: Full-time

Travel: Yes, 25 % of the Time

Req ID: 192556



Equal Employment Policy: It is the policy of Burns & McDonnell to offer equal opportunity in all areas of employment to all qualified individuals, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veterans status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other classes protected by applicable law. View our EEO policy statements.

EOE including Disability/Protected Veterans

Accommodations for Applicants: Request accommodations.

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