Local recruitment: Climate Resilient Water Systems Scientist

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

San Francisco, CA, USA 🇺🇸


Put your passion and skills to work for the planet. Climate change is the most urgent issue of our time, and we need people like you to help us build a vital Earth — for everyone.

We’re Environmental Defense Fund, a fast-paced nonprofit with a growing staff of more than 1,000 people in nearly 30 countries. We deliver game-changing solutions that cut climate pollution and strengthen people’s ability to thrive despite the effects climate change is already having. We work wherever we can have the most impact, from local communities to top companies to governments worldwide, and even in space.

Our culturevalues and commitment to diversity make EDF an exciting and meaningful place to work. Every job here makes a difference. Won’t you join us?

Application Instructions

We’d like to request for individuals interested in this role to please submit a cover letter as well as 1-2 additional writing/work sample attachments with their applications – all provided application materials will be evaluated cumulatively when selecting our slates. 

Job Location

There is a strong preference for candidates based in or near San Francisco, Sacramento, or the Central Valley in California. This role can either be performed 100% remotely or on a hybrid arrangement out of EDF’s office in San Francisco.

Travel Requirements

This position must be able and willing to support a 15-20% travel expectation per year.

Program Description

The Climate Resilient Water Systems workstream is dedicated to developing water policy and management solutions that balance water supply and demand and increase the resilience of water systems that support communities and ecosystems. The team has established a reputation as a trusted and credible partner with diverse stakeholders, governments, and water agencies; expertise in groundwater challenges and solutions; and as an advocate for transformational change in water policy and practices that incorporate ecosystem and environmental justice goals. The work currently is focused within California, the Colorado River Basin and Texas, with emerging efforts in other domestic U.S. and international locations. 

Overall Function

The Scientist, Climate Resilient Water Systems will support Climate Resilient Water Systems staff and work collaboratively with other scientists, economists, and practice experts, within and outside EDF, to help develop and advance implementation of science-based policies and practices to improve the resilience of freshwater systems for communities, agriculture, and ecosystems. 

The Scientist will support EDF’s land repurposing initiatives by providing technical support and leading analyses that will contribute to the co-development of regional water and land use management strategies. This work is currently centered in California, where climate change and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act are rapidly shifting the landscape of water management, but similar approaches are likely to be needed in other water stressed regions of the world. In addition, the Scientist will also support scientific efforts to create more resilient water and land systems in the Sacramento Valley. Based on interest and need, the Scientist will also consult on Climate Resilient Water Systems work in other water-scarce regions, possibly including the Colorado River Basin, Texas, New Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest, as well as emerging initiatives in other domestic U.S. and international locations. The Scientist will report to the Office of the Chief Scientist’s Senior Director & Lead Senior Scientist with a dotted line to Climate Resilient Water Systems.

Key Responsibilities

  • Conduct independent research projects simultaneously in alignment with Climate Resilient Water Systems’ strategies and goals.
  • Conduct research and analysis that will lead to the development or refinement of water management strategies and make recommendations on approaches for outreach and policy.
  • Engage fully in EDF’s advocacy for balanced and inclusive water management, through rigorous scientific and economic analysis, supporting the development of education and communications materials, participating in the development of strategy, and direct outreach to policy makers, other stakeholders, and the interested public.
  • Review and synthesize scientific literature related to California and Western U.S. water management and agricultural land use.
  • Ensure relevant science is appropriately deployed in EDF strategies, tools, and advocacy.
  • Participate in advancing EDF DEI goals in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected, included, and empowered to address the environmental and organizational challenges in alignment with EDF values.
  • Write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as reports, fact sheets, and blog posts for general audiences on water demand management strategies.
  • Support and, as needed, lead training workshops and peer exchanges, including regular meetings of the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program Statewide Support Entity.
  • Participate in scientific conferences and working groups related to EDF’s water priorities and relevant scientific expertise.
  • Lead and mentor research assistants, interns, and fellows.
  • Coordinate and communicate with the team and other EDF staff on relevant projects and initiatives, as well as with external partner organizations on science efforts.
  • Lead the development of relevant scientific efforts, such as establishing common metrics that can be used by Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program grant recipients to track and aggregate program benefits and outcomes.
  • Participate and collaborate with stakeholders as it relates to the scientific analyses and ecosystem restoration proposals of the San Joaquin Valley Collaborative Action Program, as well as relevant efforts taking place in the Sacramento Valley.
  • Design, execute, and manage relevant work planning, data gathering, data sharing agreements, and data analysis, including the work of other small internal and/or external teams as applicable
  • Additional relevant responsibilities as assigned.


  • Ph.D. in hydrology, engineering, or environmental sciences, related to land and water processes, with relevant scientific training and at least 2 years post-doctorate/professional experience required.
  • Strong research and quantitative skills (statistical analysis, modeling, spatial analysis) required.
  • Experience and familiarity with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Open and Transparent Water Data Act, Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program, and with the groundwater policies of other Western States preferred.
  • Familiarity with agricultural water use preferred.
  • Proactive, with a strong ability to work well independently, as well as collaboratively as a part of a team, with colleagues across various time zones.
  • Strong attention to detail, time management, and organizational skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate complex scientific ideas to a general audience in easy to understand terms through writing and orally.
  • Demonstrated self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds.
  • Extensive contacts within the scientific community, including experts on water management, agricultural production, and rural community engagement preferred.
  • Experience research in support of strategic planning; leading research projects; and presenting at scientific conferences.
  • Passion for community health and environmental protection, a commitment to rigorous analysis, and knowledge of relevant environmental policy issues.

Hiring Range

We offer a strong total rewards package encompassing competitive salary, robust benefits, and professional development opportunities consistent with a modern global organization.

The pay range for this role is 92,000 – 105,000 USD which takes into account factors such as candidate experience, skills, training, internal team equity and local norms.

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant’s qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development