top of page

RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Antarctica Program Biologist

Job Location

Petaluma, CA and Antarctica


Type of Job



$40,000 baseline salary

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Feb 25, 2021

About the job

Apply Now


Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation and clean energy, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate environmentally-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation and clean energy sectors—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.



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.

Point Blue’s overarching 2019-2024 strategic goal is to increase the pace, scale, and impact of climate-smart conservation, and demonstrate successful approaches that catalyze solutions to the global climate, water, and biodiversity crises. Our vision is that, thanks to our collaborative climate-smart conservation actions today, ecosystems will sustain thriving wildlife and human communities well into the future.

In recent years the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide was this high, global temperatures averaged 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they are today, and sea levels were 100 feet higher--but that pre-dated our species by ~3.8 million years. Climate change associated with the current and projected levels of greenhouse gases poses a unique and potentially existential threat to all life on the planet.


Additionally, humans have converted and degraded more than half the earth’s land surface, with major alterations to the nutrient cycle due to extensive use of fertilizers used to feed our rapidly increasing population. We also are undergoing what has become known as the “sixth extinction” – the sixth time in the history of life that catastrophic loss of biodiversity threatens ecosystem function at a global scale.

Research indicates that nature-based approaches to addressing the severity and impacts of climate-change are necessary for us to be successful in achieving our vision. Point Blue seeks solutions that bring multiple benefits: enhancing biodiversity, availability of clean water, and human health and well-being, while simultaneously maintaining and restoring the ability of oceans, soils, grasslands and forests to sequester carbon. Our vision is that because of our collaborative climate-smart conservation actions today, healthy ecosystems will sustain thriving wildlife and human communities well into the future.


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.

Values and culture of our organization

  • We have a sense of purpose.We are passionate about nature, wild places, and wild creatures. We understand and appreciate the human connections to nature. Our shared purpose is our vision and we are guided and inspired by it.
  • We are positive and solution oriented. Despite the many challenges facing our planet, we remain hopeful by operating with solutions-oriented mindsets and “can do” attitudes.
  • We support and empower staff. We create a workplace in which our staff are supported and empowered to take on increasing levels of responsibility.
  • We bring rigor and excellence to everything we do. We strive for excellence through our commitment to bring rigor to everything we do.
  • We collaborate. We recognize the strengths of others and seek collaborations to maximize our collective impact to a shared vision.
  • We are innovative and entrepreneurial. We know that success requires innovation and taking risks. We achieve this by being creative, seeking out and valuing diverse perspectives, and staying open to new ideas as they emerge.
  • We educate and inspire people.We know that ignorance and misunderstanding are the nemeses of conservation, sustainability, and positive change.
  • We keep a long-term view.We know the importance of understanding ecological timescales for conservation and that grit is an essential personality trait for the work we do.

The Fellow will be hosted 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, and Oregon 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 the largest marine protected area 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 RAY Fellow 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 Fellow’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. Field work will involve at least one deployment of ~4 months (October-February) in Antarctica. While in Antarctica, the Fellow will be stationed at a small field camp (2-4 people) at Cape Crozier, 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 Fellow 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 from home is supported.

The Fellow 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


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, including:
  • 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%) Including:
  • 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 project
  • 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
  • Scheduling
  • Ordering supplies
  • Shipping project cargo


In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows.
  • Attending monthly check-ins calls (including 1-on-1 check-ins with RAY program staff and group calls with their RAY Fellow cohort).
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution.
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) in their 2nd year with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2021.
  • A 3-day Mid-Fellowship Leadership Retreat in August 2022.
  • At least one other in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and clean energy and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be no more than 1 year out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2021(we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation or clean energy.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


  • A college degree by the time of employment.
  • An interest in the field of conservation.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • 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. Including: ability to carry a heavy (30+ lb) backpack daily, tolerance of cold and dirty working conditions, ability to go for several months without running water or internet
  • Interest in developing skills to conduct scientific research. Examples include: developing coding skills for data analysis and visualization, image analysis, scientific writing, manuscript preparation


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2021.



The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by Point Blue Conservation Science, who offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. 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 RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website:
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, two essay and one short answer responses, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 26, 2021. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Conservation Program Manager, Guilu Murphy, via email at


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. Point Blue is continually seeking to diversify its staff, particularly to broaden opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy.

bottom of page