Antarctica Program Biologist

PROGRAM: Ecoinformatics and Climate Solutions/Antarctica Program

REPORTS TO: Annie Schmidt, Antarctica Program Director

STATUS: Full-Time, 12 month position with full benefits

LOCATION: Petaluma CA and Antarctica

START DATE: On or after July 15, 2022




Our mission is to conserve birds, other wildlife and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach.  We have been assessing changes in our environment and advancing conservation through bird and ecosystem studies since our founding as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965. Point Blue’s 140+ staff work to maximize nature’s benefits for wildlife and people in our rapidly changing world.

Individuals from underrepresented communities in science and conservation are strongly encouraged to apply. Increasing diversity, equity and inclusion at Point Blue and in our partnerships, is essential for the success of our mission, vision, and strategy. The work of diversity, equity and inclusion is not separate from our programmatic work or how we work at Point Blue; it is an integral part of our work every day.

This position will be based at Point Blue in the Antarctica Program and will be part of a multi-institution team that has been studying penguins and the Antarctic ecosystem for many decades. This productive collaboration between Point Blue, H.T Harvey, Oregon State University, and Arizona State University has led to the publication of more than 100 scientific journal articles; several of these articles were instrumental in justifying the need for the Ross Sea Marine Protected area, established in 2017 as one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. We continue to investigate questions such as: why are some colonies bigger than others, why do they occur where they do, what sort of environmental changes impact populations the most, and what is “normal” variability, with the goal of developing better understanding and sustainable management of the Antarctic ecosystem.


The Program Biologist will be part of a team that studies Adélie penguin breeding and wintering ecology with the objective of increasing our understanding of population structuring of this and other species through time. Emphasis during the Biologist’s term will be on the long-term effects of early life conditions on individuals as they mature and use of devices deployed on penguins to monitor environmental change. Please see the research page on for more specifics about the current project. Field work will involve a deployment of ~4 months (October-February) in Antarctica (pending approval of NSF and medical clearance). While in Antarctica, the Biologist will be stationed at a small field camp (2-5 people) at one of the penguin colonies on Ross Island. The field crew works out of a small hut, sleeping in tents, accessible in good weather conditions only by helicopter from McMurdo station, which in turn is only accessible by military aircraft from New Zealand. Living conditions in the field are rustic, communal space is cramped, there is no running water (no showers). Temperatures range from -20 to +10 C, with intermittent severe wind and snowstorms. The Biologist will participate in several unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and will be required to obtain FAA certification as a remote pilot prior to deployment to Antarctica. The remainder of the position will be based out of Point Blue headquarters in Petaluma, California. Working remotely outside the field season is supported.

The Biologist will benefit from exposure to key concepts and skills in the following areas:

  • Field methods in ecology and conservation biology
  • Broader context of polar biology and climate change
  • Safety and logistical challenges of working in Antarctica
  • The scientific process and the role of natural history observation in guiding meaningful research and conservation
  • Critical thinking and evaluation of research and conservation
  • Climate-smart conservation
  • Science communication
  • Data management and analysis


  • This position will participate in all aspects of the project from field work and field-logistics, data management and analysis, literature review, and preparing manuscripts for publication
  • Responsibilities while in the field (up to 4 months of the year)
    • Collect data on many aspects of the species’ breeding and wintering ecology


  • Searching for banded (known-age) penguins and recording their nesting status
  • Deploying and maintaining automated scale and PIT-tag reader
  • Deploying biologging devices on individual penguins to track movement and behavior
  • Measuring chicks and recording observations of chick diet
  • Surveying for whales and pinnipeds
  • Conducting UAV surveys to photograph and census nesting adults and chicks
  • Data entry and proofing
  • Non-field responsibilities
    • Data management (50%)
      • Data quality assurance
      • Annual summaries and reports
      • Maintain existing long-term databases
      • Develop and maintain data collection and entry protocols
    • Additional projects and activities as developed with supervisor (40%)

Examples include:

  • Independent research projects
  • Literature review
  • Attend and present at scientific conferences
  • Create outreach materials
  • Contribute to ongoing analysis, publications, and grant proposal preparation in partnership with the leadership team
  • Project administration (10%)
    • Safety and permitting
    • Sample curation
    • Ordering supplies
    • Shipping project cargo
  • Additional work on other Point Blue projects as needed


  • A college degree by the time of employment
  • An interest in the field of conservation
  • At least one season of field biology experience, seabird experience preferred
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • An eagerness to learn
  • Attention to detail and patience
  • Teamwork skills- ability to communicate well, actively listen, and be responsible.
  • Interest in learning to conduct UAV surveys and ability to obtain FAA Remote Pilot certification (written exam)
  • Enjoy living and working in challenging outdoor environments.
    • ability to carry a 40+ lb backpack daily on steep terrain with uneven footing
    • tolerance of cold, wind, and dirty working conditions
    • ability to go for several months without running water or internet
    • ability to sleep on the ground in a tent with 24 hour daylight
  • Skills or interest in:
    • developing code for data analysis and visualization
    • image analysis
    • scientific writing
    • manuscript preparation
  • Have the ability to work in the United States
  • Successful applicants will need to complete a medical examination as required by the US Antarctic Program prior to deployment to Antarctica and be fully vaccinated for influenza and COVID-19. More information about the physical qualification policy is available here and here.


This is a one-year, full-time term position starting on or after July 15, 2022.


Starting salary is $41,603 commensurate with experience. Point Blue Conservation Science offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities.

Benefits include 100% medical, dental and life insurance premium coverage for employees, and partial coverage (80%) for dependents including domestic partners. Other optional benefits include long term care insurance,  vision, supplemental life insurance, short term and long-term disability, flexible spending account, and a 401k plan with an employer discretionary match. Full time employees accrue up to 3 weeks paid vacation, 3 personal days, 12 sick days and  8 holidays each year. All time off benefits are  prorated based on the employee’s date of hire.

All expenses related to training and travel to Antarctica will be covered (including FAA remote pilot certification and Wilderness First Aid certification). Extreme cold weather clothing provided by the US Antarctic Program.


To apply for the Biologist position:

Complete the online application questionnaire and submit a CV or resume.


Point Blue Conservation Science is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status.