September 29, 2021 - REEF seeks to hire a full-time Conservation Science Associate based at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida. This is a full-time, salaried exempt position with benefits. The position is funded for two years, with the possibility to extend into a full-time permanent position with REEF based on conditions at the end of the term. The person will be responsible for project coordination and management of a lionfish deepwater non-containment trap study in the Florida Keys. They will also organize and facilitate invasive species outreach events and assist with additional program projects.

This position will require careful method development, organizational and analytical skills, strong communication skills, and public outreach experience. At times, the role will require a significant amount of time in the field, working on vessels with local lobster fisheries and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in Marathon, FL.

Experience with outreach and education coordination,  lionfish, gear development/testing, emerging video technologies, and collaboration with fishers are a plus. Specific job description below. Questions should be sent to Alli Candelmo,

Position Title: Conservation Science Associate
Work Type: Full-Time, salaried exempt with benefits (24 months)
Time Period: November 2021-November 2023
Location: Florida Keys, Florida (REEF Campus Office based in Key Largo)

The successful candidate will assist with REEF conservation science initiatives to support REEF’s mission of citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. The majority of their time will be spent supporting the goals of REEF’s Invasive Species Program, including managing REEF’s “Lionfish deepwater non-containment trap study in the Florida Keys” currently funded by NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program and assist with coordination of REEF’s Lionfish Derby Series. The staff member will be based at the REEF Campus in the Florida Keys, and will, as time allows, provide general REEF program assistance at in-person capacity building events and occasionally work with visiting education groups.

Priority tasks and duties include, but may not be limited to the following:

Deepwater Lionfish Trap Research

  • Coordinate lionfish trap field deployment testing and modification with both lobster fishers and FWC contract vessels throughout the duration of the project
  • Coordinate and implement lionfish trap development workshops with stakeholders
  • Perform and oversee database management and data analysis from deployment tests; including video analysis for mounted and ROV surveys and passive acoustic recordings
  • Provide input and support for permit application processes
  • Assist with operations and administrative functions of grant fulfillment
  • Assist lead PI with the preparation of biannual and final reports (technical and financial) and data summaries
  • Write peer-reviewed publications generated from this related work (first author)

Invasive Species Education and Outreach

  • Assist with coordination and execution of REEF’s Lionfish Derby and Workshop Series
  • Assist with Invasive Species Program education and outreach events
  • Seek program sponsors and manage sponsor recognition 
  • Develop outreach collaborations with local partners 
  • Coordinate program communication plan and social media strategy with other REEF staff

Conservation Science 

  • Assist with grant application writing for program support
  • Assist with development of novel techniques to expand REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project 


Master’s or Undergraduate degree in biology or a closely related field and two years of relevant field experience; or Doctoral degree in biology or a closely related field. Driver license and vehicle.


  • Four years of research experience in marine ecosystems with an emphasis or interest in fisheries biology and management.
  • Experience working with fishers.
  • Experience working with gear testing and development.
  • Experience working with emerging technologies (video surveys, acoustic recording and analysis, etc.)
  • Experience working with lionfish.
  • Knowledge of scientific methods including experimental design, data collection, and statistical and/or spatial analyses, especially for applied management applications.
  • High-level communication skills, both oral and written.
  • AAUS Dive Certification
  • Knowledge of educational outreach strategies and principles, with the ability to develop, implement, and coordinate a variety of general and public outreach programs including classroom and field-based offerings.
  • Demonstrates strong oral, written communication, and presentation skills, with the demonstrated ability to work with a large diversity of audiences in classroom, outdoor and professional environments. 
  • Positive attitude and high aptitude for working as a self-starter in a fast-paced, grassroots non-profit organization. The successful applicant will be detail-oriented and thorough, with strong organizational skills and an ability to follow through on tasks. They will need to work both independently and as an engaged team member, and willing to work in diverse and collaborative settings across multiple disciplines. 


The position will be based at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida. A significant portion of the fieldwork will be conducted in Marathon, Florida. They will report to Dr. Alli Candelmo, REEF Conservation Science Manager.


This is a full-time position with salary commensurate with experience, ranging from $44,000-50,000 per year. Benefits include contribution towards health insurance, accrued paid time off (PTO), option for flex-time work weeks, and 7 holiday days per year. U.S. and international travel may be required, as well as some weekend, holiday, and after-hours work. 

Travel Compensation: REEF will pay travel and related expenses for travel as needed for certain fieldwork and outreach events, with estimates to be approved in advance. 


Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume as one integrated PDF document to Dr. Alli Candelmo, Conservation Science Manager – with “Conservation Science Associate” in the subject line of the email. 

This position is currently funded for two years with the possibility to extend into a full-time permanent position with REEF based on conditions at the end of the term.

Organization Background

The REEF Campus, in Key Largo, Florida (US), with an Interpretive Center and nature trails, serves as an educational center for visitors and groups. It is also the Headquarters for supporting REEF’s international programs and worldwide membership. REEF maintains a physical and online store of field supplies, reference ID books, and REEF branded merchandise.

REEF conserves marine environments worldwide. Our mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. REEF programs include marine life education, field research, and one of the largest citizen science programs in the world through unique partnerships with private, governmental, scientific, and educational sectors. REEF’s programs directly benefit and help to protect marine life worldwide.

REEF was founded in 1990 as a way to educate scuba divers and snorkelers in marine life identification and to utilize their marine life sightings. Patterned after the successful Audubon and Cornell birding programs, REEF has grown into a 74,000-plus member organization with programs in place globally. Primary among these programs is the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, enabling marine enthusiasts to conduct surveys and submit sightings data from oceans worldwide. Data are managed by REEF staff and made available to researchers, scientists, managers, and the public free of charge via REEF’s online database at To date, more than 255,000 marine life surveys have been submitted.

In addition to the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, REEF maintains a large and active diver education program with standardized course materials for each of its survey regions. Strong partnerships within the diving industry and effective outreach provide opportunities for thousands of divers to learn about marine life and take part in surveying activities throughout the year. REEF’s other key programs include the Grouper Moon Project – researching grouper spawning aggregations; the Invasive Species Program – tracking the impact and control of non-native marine fish species, particularly the human-induced invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish into the Tropical West Atlantic; and Special Projects – assessing fish population changes in and around marine reserves and in the areas of newly developed artificial reefs. REEF also offers Explorers Education Programs for student groups to engage in field survey and data gathering expeditions, hosts numerous public events and manages several recurring communications streams such as monthly electronic newsletters. REEF maintains strong partnerships with federal, state, and local government agencies as well as other US-based and international agencies, NGOs, and business entities. 

REEF is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.