Program Manager The Migratory Connectivity Project

Job Description

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) is seeking a skilled, motivated, and entrepreneurial scientist to join the Center's team as a Program Manager for the Migratory Connectivity Project (MCP).

About the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

A center within the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoo (in Washington, D.C), the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is an international leader in ornithological research, with a focus on migratory species. Our goal is to foster greater understanding, appreciation, and protection of birds and the grand phenomenon of migration.

Our priorities include: studying the responses of bird populations to natural and human-generated forces of change throughout the annual cycle; developing innovative solutions to tracking migratory animals; mentoring the next generation of ornithologists; finding creative conservation solutions for species in decline; and, inspiring and engaging the public through classroom and citizen science programs, festivals and exhibits, web-based outreach. Our approach is proactive, interactive and interdisciplinary and our reach is national and international.

The Migratory Connectivity Project (MCP) was founded in 2009 by Pete Marra (SMBC) and Susan Haig (USGS) for the sole purpose of advancing the understanding of animal movements and migratory connectivity and to promote the conservation of migratory species throughout the entire annual cycle ( Specifically, MCP conducts comprehensive full life cycle research for birds by:

  1. Quantifying the migratory connectivity for the species of the western hemisphere,
  2. Advancing the use of current technologies and facilitating development of new technologies to increase the understanding of migratory connectivity,
  3. Integrating the use of connectivity knowledge (data, models, analyses) to inform environmental management and policy decisions, and
  4. Educating the public about migratory connectivity and how it relates to international conservation.

The Role

The Program Manager would oversee the continued development and implementation of MCPs overall strategy as well as leading several key signature tracking projects. MCP seeks to advance high quality tracking projects that also have significant conservation benefits. The projects would tell the story of migration, the biology of birds on both ends of their journeys, as well as the threats they face along the way. This position would be located in Washington, D.C.


  • Overseeing all operational activities as they relate to MCP
  • Work with MBC and MCP scientists, postdocs, and graduate students to implement tracking projects directly or with partners using various technologies, including satellite and cell phone devices on larger birds that transmit geolocations, and archival tags that can be placed on birds as small as 10 grams.
  • Communicating scientific discoveries and information on migratory connectivity into primary literature, popular media outlets, websites, and social media outlets.
  • Organizing and communicating with all MCP scientific and partner organizations
  • Developing propoals for additional financial support for MCP activities

Qualifications and Experience

The position calls for an understanding and passion for issues related to migratory birds, movement ecology, tracking technologies, and conservation. The role requires self-direction and motivation, combined with flexibility and entrepenurial thinking. The Program Manager should ideally possess the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

  • At least 5 years' experience with the capture and handling of birds, tracking technologies and their attachment to birds
  • Graduate degree, preferably a Ph.D. in ecology, zoology or a related science
  • Strong quantitative and analytical abilities
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrated success at grant writing
  • Proven organization and time management skills
  • Capacity to work independently and as part of a team
  • Intellectual agility and the ability to analyze, think critically, and understand emerging issues that are directly relevant to migratory connectivity
  • Unquestionable ethics and personal integrity
  • Willingness to travel nationally and internationally, sometimes for extended periods (2-4 weeks)

Compensation and Benefits

The Smithsonian offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary (IS 11/12). The position is guaranteed for one year but is likely to continue for several additional years. Interested candidates should send a cover letter (clearly describing how their background qualifies them for this position), CV, and the names, addresses, and contact information for three references to Pete Marra at by July 15, 2014.

Migratory Connectivity Project