Research Assistant or Associate (Marine Ecology)

Vantuna Research Group - Occidental College

Los Angeles, California

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $3,467-$5,200/Month
Deadline Oct 30, 2020

The Vantuna Research Group ( at Occidental College is seeking a Research Assistant (bachelor’s degree) or Associate (master’s degree or above) to assist with its extensive grant-funded field programs. We research nearshore marine systems throughout the Southern California Bight and work on a variety of studies including MPA research, ecological restoration and artificial reef science, NPDES monitoring, and long-term monitoring of rocky reefs. This person will integrate with the current staff and student researchers. It is essential that this person be able to accurately interpret and follow established guidelines and procedures, and collect accurate data. Our program conducts fieldwork 2-4 days a week, year-round. Workdays not in the field are spent on campus in the office and laboratory. This position requires the employee to travel to off-campus sites, and to work evenings, weekends, or on multi-day trips when necessary.

This is a full-time appointment that includes a competitive benefits package including medical, dental, vision & life insurance, and retirement. The initial appointment will be made for one year, with possibility of extension based on the availability of external grant funding. The monthly rate for this position is $3,467-$5,200, and is dependent on qualifications and experience. The start date for this position is negotiable but ideally would start prior to January 1, 2021.


  • An experienced AAUS scuba diver and familiar with nearshore fauna of the Southern California Bight. Able to accurately identify and count algae, invertebrates, and fishes and collect additional data while scuba diving. Must also be able to perform work tasks (e.g., collecting sediment cores, deploying and retrieving equipment) while diving.
  • Operates and maintains oceanographic/biological equipment, including a CTD water profiler, Niskin water sampler, flowmeters, nets, microscopes, computers, lab-ware, scales, etc.
  • Operates small boats as a dive tender and for data collection.
  • Prepares dive gear and other equipment for field days.
  • Leads field operations for environmental monitoring projects.
  • Assists with student training and supervision in both the laboratory and the field.
  • Assists with various projects, information gathering, data entry, QA/QC, and database management.
  • Assists and mentors undergraduate students in designing and implementing independent research projects.
  • Makes decisions in both the laboratory and the field with regard to student and personnel safety.
  • Represents the College and program director in a positive manner to contracting organizations, subcontractors, and other College representatives and employees.


  • Bachelors (Assistant) or Masters (Associate) degree in a relevant scientific field.
  • Current AAUS certification with advanced training in research diving in cold and open water environments.
  • Must be able to lift 50 lbs.
  • Strong communication skills to build relationships with outside groups including research partners, funding agencies, and government entities, and to work effectively as part of a collaborative and growing team.
  • Able to work safely in adverse weather conditions in a variety of demanding environmental conditions, and have strong swimming abilities for water-based fieldwork.
  • Must provide all dive gear except tanks.
  • Experienced in the operation and trailering of small boats (up to 21’) including the ability to become small-boat certified through the MOTC program.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Able to travel to off-campus sites, and to work evenings, weekends or on multi-day trips when necessary.
  • Valid driver’s license and the ability to become an authorized designated driver of campus-owned vehicles.


  • Experience with collecting data using remote sensing methods (i.e., ROVs, AUVs, sonars).
  • Experience operating and troubleshooting oceanographic and/or hydrographic marine electronics.
  • Knowledge of taxonomy and identification of southern California marine algae, invertebrates, and fishes.
  • Experience with CTDs, Niskin bottles and other water quality monitoring equipment
  • Trained in CRANE, PISCO, Kelp Forest Monitoring Program, or MARINe subtidal or intertidal survey protocols.
  • Experienced in the use, maintenance, and towing of boats (up to 28’) and trailers.
  • Experience with sampling design, database management, and statistical analysis.
  • Experience with report writing and manuscript preparation.
  • Programming skills and proficiency in R (or MATLAB/Python, with interest and ability to learn R).
  • Experience with ArcGIS.
  • Experience with creating website content and managing social media accounts.

As a condition of hire for a staff position and for appointment to a faculty position, Occidental College requires that all candidates who have received a conditional offer of employment complete an application form (if they have not already done so) and consent to a background check. Satisfactory completion of a background check, along with pre-employment verifications and references are required as a condition of employment, but only as permitted by federal, state, and local law, including the City of Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance.

We will consider for employment all qualified Applicants, including those with Criminal Histories, in a manner consistent with the requirements of applicable state and local laws, including the City of Los Angeles’ Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance


Applications must include a CV, a cover letter describing experience, research accomplishments, and interests, and two confidential letters of reference. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  All applications should be sent to and with subject line indicating “Research Assistant or Associate”; the two letters should be sent directly from your references to the same email address. Review of complete applications will begin October 30, 2020, and will continue until the position is filled. Any inquiries regarding the position should be sent to

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