Job Opportunities

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many opportunities for students, professionals, and volunteers.

Job Openings at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Located at the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in the 220-acre Sapsucker Woods sanctuary, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, where several full-time faculty teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, and manage world-class, mission-driven programs. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

To apply for the positions below, please refer to the Jobs at Cornell website unless otherwise specified. For more information on the positions listed below, please contact Sue Taggart; (607) 254-2470.

For more jobs in ornithology, see listings from the Ornithological Societies of North America.

Program Manager

The Macaulay Library (ML) at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the Lab) is the world's largest (over 250,000 media assets) and oldest (started in 1929) scientific archive of biodiversity media recordings (audio, video and photos); it is the most heavily used archive of its kind in the world. ML assets are media-based biological specimens, much like the specimens in more traditional biological collections, but that uniquely capture the behavioral traits of living organisms. ML media specimens are used extensively in scientific research, having been cited for use in over 600 scientific publications. They are also used for a diversity of non-scientific purposes, including museum exhibits, educational resources, phone/tablet "apps", commercial products and numerous artistic productions (e.g., Hollywood and documentary films, broadcast television, musical compositions and other high-visibility endeavors). Altogether, ML processes over 350 requests for media per year from outside clients (scientists, educators, museums, artists, etc.), with many of the requests custom tailored and being for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of individual media assets. ML media assets are also used extensively by other units within Cornell University and other Lab programs, for example in media-rich websites. With an annual operating budget that exceeds $1.5 million, ML is involved in a complex mixture of organized and departmental collection, production, outreach, educational and research activities.

The Macaulay Library Program at the Lab is currently seeking a Program Manager. Duties include:

  • Oversee the continued development and implementation of ML's overall collection strategy and will supervise and lead the management of all administrative, operational and collection activities of ML.
  • Represent ML from a management perspective in meetings and other interactions within the Lab and the University.
  • Ensure that the management, administrative and collection functions of ML operate smoothly and according to Lab and University policy.
  • Collaborate with other ML Leadership Team members to implement and communicate the vision of the Program Director and the objectives of ML's strategic plan into a formulated operating plan, including annual and long-term goals, strategies and finances.
  • Collaborate on the setting of activities, projects and strategies that align with ML's mission and Lab priorities.
  • Provide direction and accountability for all day to day collections operations.
  • Ensure that priorities are set and met for the development of ML collections, management of media submissions, management of media-specimen preparation and preservation, metadata record creation and enhancement and media distribution.
  • Facilitate interdisciplinary dialog and collaboration among the multiple functional areas of ML, such as collections development, collections management, research and interpretation, media engineering, and software/database development.
  • Working with the Senior Director of Administration and Operations, oversee the creation, planning, scheduling, and coordination of program and project budgets, the monitoring of expenses, and the facilitation of long-term financial planning which includes assessing risks and benefits of expending program funds with regards to personnel, research, training, productions, collection initiatives, technology, and general program management.
  • Collaborate with other Program Directors and Administrators in the Lab to meet the goals and objectives of Lab's strategic plan and explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Provide regular and accurate administrative and financial status reports on program operations to the Lab Administration.
  • Collaborate with Human Resources and other supervisors in ML to oversee personnel needs and manage personnel issues including conflict resolution and performance improvement plans.
  • Represent and act as programmatic liaison for ML with other institutions, organizations and individuals, within and outside of the United States.
Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree; 3 to 5 years of experience or equivalent.
  • Proven project management, resource management, and supervisory experience and the ability to coalesce staff and resources around a common goal.
  • Prior experience working in a library, museum, or similar setting with understanding of the importance of collections and collections management procedures/technology.
  • Significant knowledge of, and experience using, media technology; including audiovisual collection development, editing and manipulation technology.
  • Must have excellent time-management and negotiation skills.
  • Must have a record of successfully meeting schedules and milestones of projects involving multiple stages, participants and stakeholders.
  • Must provide high level customer service skills and demonstrated ability to develop effective working relationships with a diverse clientele.
  • Proven ability to work in a team environment and independently to accomplish required tasks to achieve program objectives while creating a high-quality and respectful work environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to present ideas clearly and concisely in oral and written form to a broad range of people.
  • Ability to establish and maintain a safe, productive and respectful working environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to organize and facilitate meetings.
  • Proven ability to work effectively with researchers, curators, and archivists in a dynamic, creative, multi-disciplinary environment.
  • Must be logical and analytical with ability to develop new or revised systems, procedures and work flows.
  • Experience working on multiple projects on tight timeframes with multiple stakeholders and ability to hold people accountable for expectations.
  • Demonstrated ability to assess the risks and benefits of different options and using sound business practices, make decisions that protect the interest and further the mission of ML and Lab.
  • Ability to quickly understand and translate business needs as expressed by stakeholders.
  • Ability to balance the goals of the Program with financial stability and sustainability of the Program.
  • Must be fluent with modern computers and applications including project management tools, report generation, presentation graphics tools, word processing, spreadsheets and graphs, email, internet browsing.
  • Proven budget and grant management skills.
  • The ability to obtain and maintain a valid NYS driver's license.
  • Ability to work weekends or evening when required in order to meet pressing deadlines.
  • Ability to travel when necessary.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Advanced degree with at least 6 years of management and collections experience.
  • Advanced knowledge of digital media technology and digital asset management.
  • Strong interest in advancing the cause of scientific conservation and the Lab of Ornithology's mission of applying research to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity.
  • Experience in managing scientific or research projects.
  • Working knowledge of accounting and other administrative functions.

Senior Director, Development and Philanthropy

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Senior Director for Development & Philanthropy: Duties include:

  • Work collaboratively in support of the Lab's mission by leading and supervising all fundraising operations
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's senior management council
  • Prioritize and facilitate high and mid-level pipeline donor development, capital campaign management, planned giving, special gifts, and foundation and corporate relations
  • Oversee and supervise the annual fund and membership team
  • Set annual and long-term objectives in alignment with Lab's strategic initiatives
  • Advise Executive Director on key issues and take responsibility for all necessary details
  • Oversee the management and direction of the annual development and direct response budgets
  • Serve as a critical link between the Lab and Alumni Affairs and Development, plus other Cornell communities
  • The Lab currently has over 80,000 active donors and a strong opportunity for additional relationship cultivation due to the Lab's web presence with over 5.5 million web visitors per year.
  • Internalize the Lab's mission and strategic initiatives, to understand and strengthen all essential components of the Lab, which include research, extension, and education
  • Guide the vision and direction for all fund-raising initiatives for the Lab, a strong, mission-driven, not-for-profit organization
  • Provide direct supervision, direction, and mentorship to an agile staff to implement a broad range of objectives involving donor development, annual fundraising, and membership-recruitment
  • Manage the involvement of the Executive Director and other program directors with major donors and new prospects, and help prioritize travel schedules for development-related visits and events
  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and Cornell's Vice President and Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D) to set capital campaign and annual fundraising goals
  • Maintain strong and collaborative working relationships with the University's Division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D), integrating efforts of the Lab with efforts of the Division
  • Provide leadership and guidance related to engagement and fundraising strategies within a milieu of many strong and entrepreneurial programs
  • Build and foster key partnerships with Lab program directors, other sectors of the university, CALS and with the Lab's Administrative Board with respect to non-academic matters and be charged with effectively communicating and collaborating with these units on campus to benefit the Lab
  • Play a leadership role in executing the Lab's Strategic Plan; identify innovative and effective strategies to support and sustain unique and non-traditional academic programs
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's management council which provides advice and counsel to the Executive Director.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's Degree with a minimum of 5-7 years of successful leadership experience in development and major gift cultivation or the equivalent combination of education, training and/or experience, involving not-for-profit organizations.
  • Exemplary interpersonal skills as well as outstanding oral and written communication skills are required.
  • Proven leadership and relationship management experience is required.
  • Must have demonstrated the ability to establish and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with varied internal and external constituencies.
  • Must have proven supervisory experience, and ability to direct, manage and mentor a diverse team of professional staff.
  • Must be able to establish performance standards and manage staff performance.
  • Must create and maintain an atmosphere of confidentiality, where the staff, who will have access to and work with very personal and sensitive information, completely understand the University's and the Lab's confidentiality policies and procedures.
  • Must commit to travel on a regular basis, including some evenings and weekends, and must occasionally accommodate travel on short notice.
  • Must be exemplary in exercising sound judgment and the highest ethical standards.
  • Ability to deliver compelling and informative presentations to varied audiences, from hobby enthusiasts and Lab members to Administrative Board members and major donors.
  • Prior experience developing and managing annual and external vendor budgets.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with growing, managing, and mining large databases of donors and potential donors strongly preferred; experience with use of social networking and Internet-driven strategies for growing lists of contacts and donors preferred.
  • Development experience within not-for-profit and/or academic institutions, including working with and communicating to supervisory Boards.
  • Familiarity or interest with biology, ecology, ornithology, nature, and/or conservation.
  • Experience with donors in informal and unconventional settings (i.e. field trips).
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite Applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), databases (Filemaker and Access), Blackbaud Razor's Edge, and Networked Information Systems (Peoplesoft).

Web Application Developer - YardMap

The Citizen Science (CS) Program provides access to innovative uses of computer, network, data management, and Internet approaches that serve several of the Lab of Ornithology's citizen science programs. The Program maintains an array of web applications and database servers, and develops and maintains data information, management, and distribution applications that are broadly used for engaging the public in citizen science and education projects that collect information about birds and the environment. Current CS projects consist of YardMap, NestWatch, FeederWatch, and Celebrate Urban Birds.

The Citizen Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Web Application Developer for the YardMap Project. Duties include:

  • Develop, test, code, and maintain web application services for YardMap (
  • Collaborate with the YardMap project leader and assistant, as well as the rest of the citizen science IT team, to implement new techniques in crowd sourcing and other dynamic web functionality.
  • Develop web applications and web services primarily for YardMap.
  • Utilize software development tools including Eclipse (or similar) IDEs, team code repositories (Git), and open source libraries.
  • Software produced by the Citizen Science Program generally uses Java, MVC/SPA JavaScript, and an Oracle database.
  • One-year term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding.
Applicants to provide resume, cover letter, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with 2-3 years relevant programming experience or equivalent combination.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications is essential, with knowledge and experience in Java programming.
  • Proven experience designing and implementing interfaces, APIs, and web services.
  • Experience with dependency injection frameworks (e.g. Spring).
  • Demonstrable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and written and verbal communication.
  • Ability to design and construct computer software, to work effectively on a team, and to learn technical material quickly.
  • Must be able to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Ability to establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Excellent customer service skills and demonstrated ability to communicate with a broad range of people is essential.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Masters degree and 5 years of experience in computer or information science preferred.
  • Experience with Java, Oracle SQL, and ORM frameworks (Hibernate).
  • Experience implementing SPAs using AngularJS, HTML5 and CSS3.
  • Prior experience with Spring Framework, REST, and JavaScript MVC frameworks.
  • Experience managing linux-based Java application servers.
  • Previous experience with content management or web publishing systems.
  • Experience with GIS server software (GeoServer, QGIS).
  • Prior experience working on computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects.
  • Proven experience writing application requirements, architecting applications, and documenting code.


To apply for an internship, send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Most internships are unpaid but hours are flexible and course credit is possible. Minimum commitment is generally six hours per week. Cornell undergraduates are eligible to be considered for a limited number of paid internships each year. The Nancy Horton Bartels ‘48 Scholars gift supports Cornell undergraduate interns at the Lab during the summer. The Kristen Rupert and John Foote Undergraduate Research Fund supports the engagement of Cornell undergraduates at the Lab, with preference given to students involved in interdisciplinary projects with other colleges, departments, and units at Cornell.

Bartels Science Illustration Internships

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will offer at least one paid Bartels Science Illustration Internship each year, lasting from three to six months, 39 hours per week. Recipients will work on a project illustrating birds, wildlife, and/or plants for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's print publications, outreach materials, and web sites. We are seeking students (artists just starting their career) at least 18 years old who have previous experience and exceptional talent in illustration, painting, or drawing who are interested in advancing their skills in ornithological art. Interns will work on projects that help the Lab achieve its mission, and these projects often result in publication of the intern's work. For more information, please download this file. You may also contact Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, design director, by email at, or call 607-254-2417 (work) or 607-342-4811 (cell).


The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to a college senior or graduate student to study areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information about this scholarship and how to apply, see the proposal guidelines. If you wish to apply, you will also need to submit a personal information form.

The Walter E. Benning Fund provides scholarship assistance to a Cornell University graduate student studying ornithology and its relevance to conservation. The annual award is about $500. Apply by January 15 of every year by submitting a short (two page maximum) proposal describing your research, relevance to conservation, schedule of completion, and funding. Mail to Irby Lovette, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850


Interested in leading bird walks in Sapsucker Woods, helping in the visitors’ center at the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, or becoming a docent? For more information, please contact us at 254-2473 or (800) 843-2473.

Student Jobs

Working just a few hours a week provides you with a multitude of benefits. You will meet new people and adapt more quickly to your new environment. You will develop new skills and improve existing skills while building a network of contacts and good references that will ultimately increase your marketability for summer and post-Cornell jobs. Working part-time also helps improve your time-management skills. Not to mention you'll earn money to help cover some of your Cornell expenses!

To apply for the positions below, please send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Full-time registered Cornell students are eligible to be considered for these positions.

Student Jobs

There are no open positions for student jobs at this time.
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