Senior Scientist

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

Washington, DC, US

The Position

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent national nonprofit whose scientists and engineers work to solve some of our planet’s most pressing environmental and safety problems. UCS combines technical analysis and effective organizing and advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for stemming the tide of global warming, sustainable food policy and agriculture, energy and transportation, fighting misinformation and reducing the threat of catastrophic nuclear war.

Within UCS, the Food and Environment program is working to achieve our vision of a just, equitable, & sustainable food system, from farm to fork. The Senior Scientist will bridge our team’s analytical work in agroecology, health, and economics with our efforts to bring a lens of social justice and racial equity to federal food policy. Join our amazing team of scientists, organizers, and advocates to lead food system research at the intersection of natural and social science.


Develop publicly-resonant scientific analyses and other written communications
Plan, design, and conduct research on relevant scientific and policy issues, for example around the societal benefits of agroecological farming practices and systems.
Prepare compelling written materials ranging from short fact-sheets to longer reports, testimony, blogs, and peer-reviewed journal articles.
Maintain scientific and policy expertise
Maintain and develop comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of the policy and scientific/economic developments relevant to sustainable agriculture/food systems.
Provide scientific support for the program and serve as a scientific advisor.
Cultivate relationships and represent UCS
Maintain strong working relationships with colleagues in academia, government, NGOs, and industry.
Serve as compelling spokesperson to media, policymakers, farmers, and others, through both writing and speaking.
Develop program goals, strategies, and tactics
Apply technical knowledge to the formulation of public policy proposals and advocacy strategies that advance the program’s goals.
Review and critique current agricultural policies, propose new policies to address new problems, develop and recommend action plans.
Perform other duties as directed.

Qualifications and Experience

Position requires a Ph.D. in agronomy, rural sociology, or related agricultural, biological, or social science. Expertise on topics such as water quality, soil health, conservation agriculture, racial equity, and social justice is strongly desired. Experience relating physical science to social science and integrating quantitative and qualitative methods is desired. Position requires excellent writing and public speaking skills; strong analytic and project management skills; understanding of the role of science and advocacy in shaping public opinion and policy debates; excellent interpersonal skills; and ability to work effectively both independently and as a member of a team.

Position requires at least five to seven years of comparable and relevant experience in scientific and/or public policy work in sustainable agriculture, food systems, and/or environmental issues; knowledge of scientific, economic, and public policy issues related to agriculture, food systems, and environment; demonstrated ability to produce analyses on science policy issues and write about complex policy and scientific matters for a lay audience; evidence of strong analytical skills. Experience managing scientific and technical groups while utilizing project management techniques and supervising research staff is desired. Less experience may be considered, and the annual salary will be adjusted according to experience.

May spend extended periods at computer terminal. Some overnight travel required, up to 20% time.

At UCS, comparable training and/or experience can be substituted for degrees when appropriate.

UCS is an equal opportunity employer continually seeking to diversify its staff. In particular, we’re dedicated to broadening opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy. We’re also committed to building an inclusive workplace culture where talented people of widely diverse backgrounds can thrive. We’ve adopted this commitment because we believe the inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives will improve our work and produce better societal and environmental outcomes for all, including historically disenfranchised communities. We are actively seeking people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join us in this work.

Compensation, Hours and Location: This is a full-time position based in UCS’s Washington, DC office. For those who meet all position requirements, the salary is around $88,000 annualized. UCS offers excellent benefits and a rewarding work environment.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, salary requirements, how you learned about the position via email to [email protected] and include “Senior Scientist” in the subject line. Preferred writing samples include published papers on combined natural and social science or materials explaining science to lay readers. Email materials in Word or PDF format only. No phone calls, please. Deadline: June 25, 2018, or until filled.