Agricultural Soil Carbon Scientist

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace where innovation and results are a way of life.


EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We seek talented candidates who share our Core Values of Respect, Results, Innovation, Optimism, and Integrity, and support our Commitment to Diversity.  

Agricultural Soil Carbon Scientist

Location: Washington, D.C and U.S. Remote



EDF’s Nature-based Climate Solutions (NbCS) project addresses two of the biggest barriers to effective carbon credit markets: lack of clear scientific understanding and consensus on the realizable carbon storage or removal potential of the vast array of natural carbon sinks, and lack of confidence in the integrity of carbon credits in the marketplace. The NbCS team conducts research and convenes stakeholders to find agreement on the science, measurement and accounting standards that underpin high-integrity credits. The project focuses on solutions that will accelerate carbon storage most quickly because of the scale of the potential storage and the current interest in those credits. These include the management, use and protection of tropical and temperate forests, and management of cropland soils and oceans.



The Office of the Chief Scientist (“OCS”) seeks an early career soil scientist (“Scientist”) to work collaboratively with other EDF scientists, economists, and program experts to help develop and advocate for science-based, economically sound policies on negative emissions in cropland systems. The Scientist will develop and coordinate research and interact with researchers and agricultural experts within and outside of EDF to expand the foundational evidence behind net carbon sequestration in agricultural soils so we can identify the role of agriculture in meeting global climate goals. 

The Scientist will conduct cutting-edge research to address questions associated with three crucial gaps identified in our understanding of how soil management can help maximize agricultural contributions to reducing greenhouse gas concentrations:

  • Lack of a clear scientific consensus on the realizable net GHG mitigation potential of increasing soil carbon stocks - including the interplay of C and N fluxes
  • Lack of effective, economically viable methodologies for quantifying incremental changes in net carbon sequestered
  • Lack of agreement on addressing uncertainties associated with permanence, additionality, reversals, and leakage in existing monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) protocols

Initial focus will be on row crops in the U.S. and then will expand to additional geographies and agricultural efforts. The Scientist will conduct literature reviews, data identification, convene workshops of experts, and advance the science through peer reviewed publications as well as white papers and blogs for less technical audiences.

The Scientist will report to a Lead Senior Scientist in OCS and will work closely with colleagues across OCS, Ecosystems and Political Affairs to ensure that EDF’s action, advocacy and communications on cropland soil carbon are science-based. On-the-job training will be provided to familiarize the successful candidate with specific issues, media and policy work.



  • Conduct rigorous analysis that will lead to the development and refinement of our understanding of the scale and measurement of net carbon sequestration in cropland soils.
  • Identify high priority research needs via literature review and synthesis, communication, and workshops with experts from other institutions, and discussion with the internal EDF scientific team focused on agricultural soil carbon storage and related GHG fluxes.
  • Expand research efforts on critical questions in the larger research community and stay abreast of literature relevant to soil carbon; develop and manage grants provided to external researchers.
  • Write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and reports/fact sheets/blog posts for general audiences to advance the science around soil carbon.
  • Synthesize and disseminate research and soil carbon information for EDF scientists, economists, lawyers, and policy specialists and make recommendations on approaches for outreach to stakeholders and influencing policy based on scientific results.
  • Work with colleagues to develop work plans and create data-sharing and other agreements necessary for research completion.   
  • Pursue projects and collaborations in her/his own areas of interest.
  • Develop and help implement field data collection protocols.
  • Participate in scientific conferences and working groups as relevant.
  • Lead and mentor research analysts, interns, and fellows.
  • Ensure excellent coordination and communication with internal and external collaborators.
  • Participates 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
  • Travel as required for research, coordination, and communication purposes.



  • A recent Ph.D. in the natural sciences, agricultural sciences, or environmental science, with relevant scientific training and experience. Prefer at least 2 years of relevant experience post-Ph.D.
  • A passion for environmental protection, a commitment to rigorous analysis, creativity (and a dose of pragmatism) in the real-world application of scientific theory to practice, and knowledge of relevant environmental policy issues
  • Strong quantitative skills (environmental modeling, data management, statistical analysis and geospatial (GIS) analysis)
  • Solid understanding of carbon and nutrient cycling in agricultural systems or issues of permanence, reversal, additionality, and uncertainty associated with carbon credit identification
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to communicate complex ideas in writing and orally to multiple stakeholders with different levels of expertise, including the public and industry.
  • Initiates and maintains a strong network of contacts within scientific community on these issues
  • Experience in publishing peer-reviewed papers and presenting at scientific conferences
  • Ability to synthesize, interpret, and communicate scientific data in an advocacy setting and for non-scientific populations
  • Experience in leadership of a research project, mentoring and collaboration
  • Experience in carrying out several independent research projects simultaneously
  • Demonstrates self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds


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.