Staff Scientist

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Natural Resources Defense Council

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Washington, DC, United States

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30+ days ago

NRDC is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization. We use law, science, and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our people helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and many of the implementing regulations. Today, our team of more than 700 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy advocates, communications experts, and others work across the United States and the globe from our offices in Bozeman, Montana; Chicago; New York; San Francisco; Santa Monica; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

NRDC is seeking a Staff Scientist to work with the Nature team in one of our US-based offices, with Washington D.C. and San Francisco being the preferred offices.

Position Summary
NRDC is seeking an early career staff scientist to work collaboratively on the ongoing development of NRDC’s Climate Test, an innovative scientific tool designed to assess the compatibility of individual energy projects with climate goals, in the agency decision-making context and beyond. The scientist, in collaboration with current resident science staff, will be responsible for expanding development and application of our existing methodology to assess the consistency of particular projects, actions, and policies with climate goals; and to publicly advance the application of that tool in various government and public contexts. The scientist will need to be able to serve as a specialist in the climate test tool and will assist current lead staff in the continuing refinement of the test, expanding its application into other arenas, as appropriate, including, e.g., existing fossil fuel projects, renewable energy projects, and non-energy projects.

Additionally, the scientist will assist the Nature team with climate and energy systems analysis, working cross-programmatically as appropriate. They will deploy multidisciplinary scientific expertise and methods to a diverse array of subject matter.

The scientist will engage in extensive communication concerning their research and analysis both internally and externally. They will collaborate with NGO, academic, and community partners as appropriate, and present analytic concepts and results to scientists, policymakers, and the public.
The position may be based in any NRDC office, with a preference for Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA.
The scientist’s specific areas of scientific inquiry and analysis will include, inter alia, the following:
  • Work closely with and at the direction of the staff scientist leading the Climate Test team to further development and application of the tool. Areas of analysis may include, among other things:
    • Applying the test to varying types of new fossil energy infrastructure projects
    • Developing and managing data to improve application of the test, including data from life cycle greenhouse gas analysis, energy market modeling, and health and social impact assessments to fossil fuel systems
    • Further developing test “module” components, including the economic module and the local social impacts module
    • Exploring applicability of the test to existing energy infrastructure
    • Developing applications of the test to non-fossil energy projects, such as renewables, hydrogen, or power transmission infrastructure, and non-energy projects, such as logging, real estate development, or transportation infrastructure
  • Communicate extensively with government, the scientific community, and the public concerning the test, including developing and delivering presentations, and developing a report for publication
  • Manage consultants assisting with the development of the test
  • Engage in other scientific analysis on subject matter related to the work of the Nature Program, including by way of example fossil fuel use and impacts, land use impacts associated with various forms of energy, and critical mineral supply chains
Specific responsibilities may include:
  • Leading and contributing to novel research projects, including those described above
  • Contributing to and leading scientific and policy publications, including peer reviewed articles, NRDC reports, issue briefs, internal memos, and NRDC blogs
  • Serving as an internal and external expert on the climate test and other areas of scientific focus
  • Working collaboratively with NRDC’s Science Office
  • Participating as an active member of NRDC’s broader scientific community
  • Contributing to grant proposals to fund research
  • Seeking opportunities to serve as an external expert, including, e.g., attending conferences; publishing scientific papers, blogs; participating in media requests as necessary
  • Contributing to review of relevant policy proposals as appropriate
  • Applying expertise to new topical areas while still exercising the highest professional responsibility and ethical conduct
  • Contributing to the advancement of internal and external strategic initiatives relating to areas of expertise
  • Contributing to the advancement internal and external diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
  • Acting as a resource and mentor for colleagues with less experience
  • Working both independently and collaboratively in a team
  • A doctoral degree in relevant scientific field, such as sustainability, energy systems, applied mathematics, industrial ecology, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, environmental economics, or the like
  • Experience with mathematical modeling techniques and systems thinking
  • Comfort maintaining high degrees of analytical rigor and scientific integrity while navigating uncertain data environments
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to conduct multi-criteria and cross-disciplinary analysis
  • Ability to apply technical analysis to public policy issues
  • Commitment to environmental advocacy
  • Commitment to NRDC’s values and mission

  • Experience in the policy sector
  • Experience communicating with non-technical audiences
  • Expertise in energy technologies, energy systems, emission reduction scenarios and pathways, energy or environmental economics, risk analysis, decision analysis, fossil fuel supply chains, public health impacts, and/or other areas relevant to development and application of the climate test
  • Expertise with supportive tools, such as statistical analysis, data visualization, programming, and or data science.

NRDC is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in our work and in our workplace. We believe that celebrating and actively welcoming diverse voices and perspectives is essential to solving the planet's most pressing environmental problems, and we encourage applications from candidates whose identities have been historically under-represented in the environmental movement.

We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a supportive working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and is commensurate with skills and experience. For this position, the salary is $83,000 to $95,000. Internal equity considerations will be reviewed before making a final offer.

As a science-based organization, NRDC aims to do our part to help contain the COVID-19 public health crisis. For the sake of health, safety, and equity, we ask that people be vaccinated unless they have an approved medical or religious accommodation or other exemption in accordance with state and local law. We consider a person to be vaccinated two weeks after receiving one full course of a CDC-approved vaccine. In accordance with state or local law, new hires will be asked to attest to vaccination, those wishing to do so may request medical or religious accommodations or other exemptions via NRDC Employee Relations. NRDC treats all vaccine-related data confidentially, in keeping with local, state, and federal laws.

To apply, visit and upload your résumé and cover letter. Please mention where you saw this posting and upload any additional materials that showcase your abilities. Due to the high volume of applications, we will contact only those candidates we would like to interview. Please no phone calls, emails, or in-person résumé drop-offs.

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