Job Detail

Assistant Curator of Living Collections

Location: Jamaica Plain, MA

Job Summary

The Assistant Curator of Living Collections reports to the Keeper of the Living Collections and will play a leading role in curating one of Earth’s finest living collections of temperate woody plants. They will oversee and guide the Arboretum’s plant acquisition and exploration initiatives as part of the institution’s ambitious Campaign for the Living Collections. They will also participate in efforts to study and research the Arboretum’s living collections. This is a five-year term appointment with an opportunity for an extension/permanent appointment.

Position Description

Duties and Responsibilities: 
Acquisitions and Collections Development (75%)
The Assistant Curator will oversee and guide the Arboretum’s plant acquisition program as part of its Campaign for the Living Collections. This initiative collects germplasm (primarily seeds to be then grown to the establishment in the Arboretum’s collections in Boston, MA) of priority woody plant species naturally occurring throughout temperate Earth, particularly in eastern Asia. Recent expeditions have occurred in China, Japan, the Republic of Georgia, and numerous locations in the United States. Future expeditions to these and other locations in Eurasia and the Americas are anticipated. The Assistant Curator generates and hones target species lists, and drafts acquisition plans using a combination of the floristic, herbarium, and other resource data. They will foster existing and develop new partnerships and collaborations with personnel at other botanical institutions and at the Arboretum to achieve collection goals. They will conduct their own field survey work, and assist with the fieldwork of colleagues at the Arboretum and other institutions. As plant explorers, they will also plan and execute their own plant collecting expeditions. 

 Collections Scholarship (25%)

The Assistant Curator will collaborate with the Keeper of the Living Collections and other Arboretum staff to develop an original collections-based research program. They will have at their disposal state-of-the-art laboratories, growing facilities (greenhouses, growth chambers, and nurseries), herbarium collections, and library and archive collections. The nature of the scholarship will complement the experience and interests of the successful candidate. Timely publication and presentation of research in professional journals and at conferences are expected. They will also engage fully in the educational mission of the Arboretum by participating in Arboretum outreach and educational programs and authoring articles in Arboretum print and online publications.

Please note: we are not able to provide visa sponsorship for this position.

Basic Qualifications

  • An advanced degree (MS or Ph.D.) in the plant sciences, with strong knowledge of temperate woody plants.
  • Ability to engage in fieldwork under all weather conditions, within difficult terrain, and to international destinations.
  • Prior fieldwork experience collecting botanical specimens, preferably germplasm (seeds).

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Organized and meticulous data management experience.
  • Experience conducting independent and collaborative scholarship that results in a peer-reviewed publication.
  • Ph.D. preferred.

Physical Requirements 

Ability to work in rugged outdoor conditions in all types of weather.

Additional Information

COVID-19 vaccine and booster requirements. The University requires all Harvard community members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and remain up to date with COVID-19 vaccine boosters, as detailed in Harvard’s Vaccine & Booster Requirements. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement, exemptions, and verification of vaccination status may be found on the University’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Information” webpage:

What Makes the Arboretum Special?
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants. In 2022 the Arboretum is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Founded in 1872 and designed by America's first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Arboretum's first director, Charles Sprague Sargent, the 281-acre Arboretum is a historic landmark and one of the best-preserved of Olmsted's landscapes. A unique blend of beloved public landscape and respected research institution, the Arboretum provides and supports world-class research, horticulture, and education programs that foster the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of woody plants. Along with a horticultural library and herbarium encompassing some 1.5 million dried plant specimens, the Arboretum comprises one of the largest and best-documented woody plant collections in the world, with over 16,000 accessioned plants. To learn more about the Arnold Arboretum, please visit:

Diversity Statement
The Arnold Arboretum views diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a culture where everyone can thrive. Our community is made of individuals who draw from a dynamic range of backgrounds to contribute to the pursuit of our common goals. The work and well-being of the Arnold Arboretum are strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, age, ability, political views, veteran status, and more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, persons with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQIA, and those who are at the intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods to join us. Together, we strive to create an environment that values diversity, promotes an inclusive culture, and establishes a profound sense of belonging for each member of our community.

Please note
If you believe you need reasonable accommodation in order to search for a job or to submit an application, please contact us at 617-495-2772. This is a dedicated line to assist job seekers with a disability requiring assistance in applying online.

Link to Apply 

Employer Info

125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130


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