Posted January 13, 2020


(Role Title: Laboratory & Research Specialist I)


Position #: 00028
Salary Range: Pay Band 3
Location: Martinsville, Virginia
Minimum Starting Pay: $30,000

An exceptional job opportunity in research and collections at the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) is now available. This is a full-time position with an excellent state benefits package. VMNH is the official state repository of natural history collections; current holdings include many different types of specimens: dry and fluid-preserved vertebrates and invertebrates, frozen tissues, invertebrate and vertebrate fossils; and rocks and minerals.


  • To provide laboratory and field assistance to the paleontology department.
  • To assist the curators in specimen preparation, collections care, and record keeping.
  • To maintain the paleontology laboratory facility and specialized equipment therein.


  • Prepare fossil specimens for display or research purposes at direction of curator. Current preparation projects include Cenozoic marine vertebrates and invertebrates from the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Jurassic dinosaurs from the Morrison Formation of Wyoming, and Triassic microvertebrates from western North America and Europe (25%).
  • Oversee, maintain, and organize the VMNH Fossil Preparation Laboratory. Maintain laboratory equipment including air scribes, microscopes, adhesives, and molding and casting supplies. Oversee resupply and purchasing of lab materials. Schedule, organize, and oversee volunteer corps in preparation lab (25%).
  • Assist with curation of paleontology collections. Pack fossils for transport. Build storage cradles with fiberglass, ethafoam, or plaster as needed. Access and modify fossil collections database entries as needed (16%).
  • Engage with the public in paleontology programs, the presentation of paleontological ideas and specimens to a wide variety of audiences including children and adults, and the use of social media and digital technology to present updates on the lab (16%).
  • Up to one and one-half months of paleontology fieldwork per year. Expected to help organize field supplies, oversee excavations and volunteers, and assist with transport to and from field sites. Other duties as assigned (18%).


  • Basic knowledge of biology, geology, and paleontology theory and techniques.
  • Proficiency with fossil preparation at different scales, including large vertebrate and invertebrate specimens and microfossils.
  • Proficiency with fossil preparation and maintenance, especially ability to select the correct tool and personal protection equipment (PPE) for the task! Includes the usage and basic maintenance of the following technologies:
    • Air scribe
    • Pin vise
    • Air abrader
    • Stereoscopic microscope
    • Adhesives (including solution adhesives and reaction adhesives)
    • Butvar
    • Paleobond
    • Epoxy
  • Proficiency with paleontology fieldwork and techniques, including the following:
    • Excavation with hand tools
    • Construction, excavation of plaster jackets
    • Transport of specimens
    • Proficiency and enthusiasm for science communication for a wide variety of audiences (e.g., children, the general public, other scientists)
    • Familiarity with screenwashing techniques in both field and laboratory settings with the aim of safely recovering microvertebrate fossils
    • Familiarity with safe acid preparation techniques
    • Familiarity with basic molding and casting techniques
    • Familiarity with paleontology specimen databases and cataloging


  • Bachelor’s degree in biology, geology, anthropology, or other paleontology-related field.
  • Minimum of 3 years’ experience with fossil preparation and curation. Preference given to those with micro-preparation experience, using microscribes, and molding and casting experience.
  • Experience in managing teams of students and/or volunteers in laboratory and field settings.


  • The position is Pay Band 3 (minimum starting salary: $30,000).
  • An excellent state benefits package (including health insurance and retirement) is offered and detailed at


  • The Commonwealth of Virginia online employment application is available at:
  • Only online submissions are accepted. Please provide a cover letter and résumé along with your application. A hiring committee will review all applications received and select candidates who most closely meet the established criteria for interviews. Candidates will be subject to a background check and employment references check.
  • If you need assistance in completing the online application, please contact the Human Resources Office at 276-634-4158. Applications must be submitted by 5 pm, Monday, February 24, 2020.

VMNH is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants are afforded equal opportunities without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status, political affiliation, genetics, or disability. The successful applicant must furnish proof of identity and employment eligibility. Reasonable accommodations are available during the application and interview process for individuals with disabilities. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other national service alumni are encouraged to apply. VMNH is a Virginia Values Veterans Certified agency.

State employees who have been affected by Policy 1.30 Layoff and possess a valid Interagency Placement Screening Form (Yellow Card) or a Preferential Hiring Form (Blue Card) must submit the card BEFORE the closing date for this position. The card may be scanned and attached to the application or faxed to 276-634-4197. Please include your name and the position number on the fax cover sheet.

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