View all jobs

Resident Lecturer in Tropical Coastal Ecology, Panama

Bocas del Toro, Panama
The SFS program at the School for Field Studies Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies (TIBS), located in the Bocas del Toro, Panama seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual to serve as part of a residential team of faculty and staff who deliver an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to US-based students spending a semester or summer abroad. 

On an annual basis, teach the Tropical Coastal Ecology course during the fall and spring semester sessions and participate in one or more shorter-course sessions in winter and/or summer (level of engagement is to be determined).  During semesters, lead designated components of the Center's Strategic Research Plan and, as part of this, oversee, mentor, and grade student directed research projects related to these research lines.

Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies - Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama

Reports to:
The Center Director (Panama) and the Office of Academic Affairs (USA)

Program Objective:
A central theme of The School for Field Studies (SFS) Panama study abroad program is “islands as a delicate system,” with emphasis on the resources of Panama’s spectacular coastal and marine environments. Students will explore several key interfaces: human and natural systems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and conservation and development. The goal of this undergraduate study abroad program is to assess the state of the archipelago’s fragile natural habitats, define the main environmental issues, and understand the community goals in natural resource management. Our ultimate goal is to help islanders maintain balance between people and nature in this fragile ecosystem.

Course Overview:
The Tropical Coastal Ecology course provides fundamental knowledge to understand the main ecological processes and interactions in a fragile marine island ecosystem. Basic ecological principles will be paired with field observation and measurement to understand the interdependencies of species, populations, communities, and ecosystems in the coastal and marine environment, with particular attention to the management of resources and environments for consumptive and non-consumptive use.
Our studies will focus on the benthic, neritic, and on-shore coastal environments of Bocas del Toro with emphasis on coral reef, seagrass, beach and intertidal zone, and mangrove habitats. Coastal terrestrial environments, such as swamps, streams and forest will also be considered for their interactions with the marine environment. We will study the biology, ecology and behavior of important marine and coastal faunal species. Finally, we will consider the impact of anthropogenic disturbance and global climate change to island ecosystems and the habitats and species upon which the livelihood and well-being of island residents depend.
The successful candidate will provide high quality, modern and experiential teaching in critical environmental issues in an interdisciplinary curriculum and participate fully in the implementation of the program’s research plan that addresses these issues.  The successful candidate will work closely with the other program lecturers to deliver an interdisciplinary program through education and research in a field setting. Each lecturer is expected to provide high quality, inquiry-based teaching and will lead students in Directed Research projects defined in the program’s research plan.
Applicants are encouraged to review the course syllabi and programs descriptions on the SFS website: www.fieldstudies.org/panama
Duties and Responsibilities:
  • As part of an interdisciplinary teaching team, deliver the Tropical Coastal Ecology course (60-semester hours of instruction in 15-weeks), and part of the Directed Research course (and projects)
  • Plan, revise, and effectively deliver a challenging, problem-based interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Organize lectures and prepare course materials in a timely and professional manner
  • Adhere to the daily academic schedule
  • Prepare, administer, and grade assignments, quizzes, mid-term and final examinations
  • Supervise and mentor 6 to 8 students in Directed Research projects
  • Actively support and counsel students on academic issues
  • Maintain an organized academic course portfolio
  • Conduct designated research according to the program’s research plan
  • Identify appropriate components of the program’s research plan suitable for student Directed Research projects
  • Prepare research results for clients and partners and for publication and conference presentations
  • Assist in the creation and implementation of program research policies, priorities, budgets as required
  • Implement appropriate data management, record keeping, and reporting systems
  • Present research findings at local and international conferences (budget dependent)      
  • Participate in planning activities prior to the program start and in review and analysis following students' departure
  • Participate in training activities for new program staff prior to and during the program
  • Participate in and lead parts of the orientation and re-entry components of the program presented to students at the beginning and end of each program period
  • Provide routine coordination of program support staff as delegated by the Center Director
  • Participate in resolving group management issues and student discipline problems
  • Participate in preparation of the final reports, academic handbook revisions and other required reports
  • As requested by the center director, assist with other logistical, group management and administrative tasks
Safety & Risk Management
  • Take responsibility, as an individual and as a member of the program faculty/staff team, for the safety of all program participants
  • Participate in the review and revision of program risk assessment and management plans
  • Recommend and review policies and procedures needed to manage risks
  • Know the emergency procedures plan for the field station, including evacuation plan
  • Participate in the safety portions of the on-site orientation and conduct safety briefings for students and/or staff
  • Complete incident reports when appropriate and contribute to safety audits
  • Comply with, actively model, and enforce all SFS and center policies and procedures
Daily Center Life
  • Frequently take meals with the students
  • On a rotating basis, take responsibility for program-specific "staff of the day" duties
  • Take part in, and occasionally lead community outreach, center upkeep projects, social and field activities
  • Drive standard transmission vehicles and boats as needed
  • Adhere to, actively model and enforce all SFS and center policies and procedures
 Minimum qualifications
  • Ph.D. and university-level teaching experience in Coastal or Marine Ecology/Biology, or related field
  • Field research experience, preferably in the fields of Invertebrate Ecology or Reef Fish Ecology; Tropical Coastal Zone Ecology; Marine Protected Areas; Coral Reef Monitoring; Marine Policy Formulation
  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary teaching and research team
  • Demonstrated organizational management experience in such areas as project management, conducting academic and/or research programs, or heading environmental issue-driven projects, programs or organizations
  • Track record of research publications or presentations
  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental issues
  • Fluency in English, spoken and written
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience working in collaboration with small island governments and communities
  • Knowledge of Caribbean island life, including culture, history, and governmental operations 
  • Residential student group management and risk management experience highly desirable
  • Current First Aid certification
  • Experience living at a field station or a non-traditional academic setting
  • Scuba qualification, driver’s license and boat driver’s license
  • Command of Spanish
Other Expectations
  • Willingness to work flexible hours and live on site at the field station with a small team of permanent staff, groups of US undergraduate students and visiting researchers or programs
  • Participation in all program activities
  • Represent SFS at local and international meetings and conferences
  • At all times, work to ensure good relations between the SFS and the local community
This is a 10 month appointment starting in late-summer, 2021 and ending in mid-May, 2022 with the possibility for continuance for the 2022-2023 academic year, depending on successful completion of duties and sufficient student enrollment. Shorter-term engagements also may be considered. Salary is dependent on experience and qualifications. A comprehensive benefits package is included.

Start Date:
As early as July 2021 but no later than mid-August. 

To Apply: Submit a cover letter outlining relevant experiences and addressing the qualifications and expectations stated above and curriculum vitae online.  Recommendation letters or reference testimony will be required upon request.

Inquiries about the position may be directed to SFS Chief Program Officer and Dean, Mark E. Seifert at academics@fieldstudies.org
Equal Opportunity Employer.
Powered by