Climate Change & Ecosystem Ecology Science Fellow

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Various, , US


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation’s most effective environmental action 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 a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our staff helped write some of America’s bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff of more than 500 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy and communications experts, and others, work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing.

Position Summary:

The planet is beset by two interrelated crises: climate change and ecosystem collapse. Experts have identified large-scale conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems as critical strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, deliver negative emissions and safeguard the world’s biodiversity. Accordingly, NRDC is prioritizing the conservation of wild, ecologically- and carbon-rich habitats, including calling on nations of the world to adopt an ambitious plan to help safeguard nature and life on Earth by protecting 30 percent of the world’s land and 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030 (“30 by 30”). NRDC is seeking a Climate Change and Ecosystem Ecology Science Fellow for a fulltime, two-year post-doctoral Fellowship.  The Fellow will provide subject matter expertise and conduct multidisciplinary research and analysis on land-based carbon sequestration and ecosystem functioning within the context of climate change.


Specific topics and projects undertaken by the Fellow will include:

  • Reviewing and analyzing available scientific literature about Ecosystem Carbon Dioxide Removal (ECDR) approaches, with specific emphasis on how these strategies relate to the “30 by 30” biodiversity goal;
  • Identifying gaps in existing data that need to be considered prior to deployment of these ECDR strategies
  • Assessing the range and robustness of existing estimates of forest climate mitigation potential in United States and the temperate rain forests of Chile, the risks to these sinks and developing criteria for identifying the greatest opportunities for increasing these sinks;
  • Assessing the range of existing estimates for ecosystem-wide carbon in Canada’s Boreal Forest, where is this carbon located, the drivers that could lead to its release, and the range of estimates for potential carbon loss from various drivers;
  • Establishing reliable estimates for potential soil carbon sequestration in agricultural soil sinks in the United States, identifying factors that account for the range in existing estimates and creating criteria for the identification of geographic areas of opportunity for accelerating the adoption of climate-mitigating practices;
  • Analyzing carbon removal potential for these ECDR pathways including volumes needed to meet climate goals, costs, benefits and drawbacks, and barriers and opportunities;
  • Organizing and hosting a workshop of internal and external experts to discuss and seek feedback on the results of the analysis;
  • Developing a policy and implementation roadmap for NRDC to help speed deployment of ECDR in the identified regions, including short- and medium-term opportunities, in close collaboration with NRDC legal, policy, and science staff;
  • Identifying and assessing political and societal barriers to deployment.

The Climate Change and Ecosystem Ecology Science Fellow is supported by NRDC’s Science Center and its Science Fellows program, which is a key element of the Science Center’s mission to enhance NRDC’s scientific capabilities and provide resources and support for policy and advocacy work. The Science Fellows program provides young scientists interested in working in the science, policy and advocacy arena with professional experience and on-the-job training; it is an excellent opportunity to refine existing skills and build new ones, develop professionally, publish work, and gain important competencies.


The Fellow will be based in our San Francisco, CA office (preferred) or our Washington, D.C. or New York, NY offices.


The Fellow’s core responsibilities will include:

  • Reviewing and assessing existing, peer-reviewed literature and datasets related to:
    • Forest ECDR in the United States, Canada’s Boreal Forest, and the temperate rain forests of Chile and
    • Agricultural soils in the United States;
  • Conducting a gap analysis of where additional data and information are needed and develop strategies for producing or obtaining it;
  • Drafting a report of analytical findings;
  • Developing and hosting an expert workshop to present and seek feedback on the findings and producing a report based on the input received at that workshop;
  • Creating a technical and policy roadmap for how NRDC can advance forestry- and agriculture-based ECDR in the U.S. (forestry and ag), Canada (forestry), and Latin America (forestry).


The following qualifications are required:

  • A doctoral degree in ecosystems ecology, forest carbon science, soil science, or a related field, and familiarity with natural climate solutions and associated literature. The ideal candidate would have already completed one post-doctoral position on these subjects. A candidate with a Master’s degree and relevant academic and/or work experience may also be considered.
  • Expertise in land-based carbon sequestration and ecosystem functioning and a desire to bring to bear that expertise on public policy.
  • Deep understanding of scientific methods and processes and ability to provide thorough assessments of current scientific research relevant to core job functions.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Comfort with public speaking.
  • Ability to work with various stakeholders, including other NGOs, government employees and officials, scientists, industry employees, and members of the community.
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills.

The following qualifications are desired:

  • Expertise in interpreting and analyzing carbon sequestration data.
  • Familiarity with data modeling, design, and interpretation.
  • Experience with environmental policy analysis or advocacy.
  • Media training and/or experience giving media interviews.

NRDC is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. We are equal opportunity employers and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. Consistent with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.


To apply, please visit and upload your resume and cover letter through our online portal.  We would like you to upload any additional papers or project work that you think would showcase your abilities. Due to the high volume of resumes, only qualified candidates will be contacted. Please no phone calls, emails, faxes or in-person resume drop-offs. Please reference where you saw this posting. NRDC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development