Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Cattle Nutrition

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?

Program Overview

The Office of Chief Scientist (OCS) is the nexus of science at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), ensuring that the science that is the backbone for all EDF policy positions is based on the best available information. To be most effective in this role, OCS provides programmatic support for all scientists at EDF and fosters relationships with scientists outside the organization. The OCS team works on projects across all of EDF’s programs, translating natural and social science basic and applied research into actionable ideas for colleagues who are designing programs and projects. The fellow will work with OCS and report to a Senior Scientist in OCS.


EDF’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) team aims to lay the foundation for a future in which farms, ranches and forests support thriving communities, help stabilize the climate and increase the resilience of people and nature to the stressors of global change. Guided by science and economics, we strategically focus on pulling levers for systemic change (e.g., policy, finance and environmental markets, collaborative and adaptive processes) to support more resilient agricultural production that generates significant environmental improvements (such as reduced water pollution, increased flood protection, reduced GHG emissions, and land conservation).


Overall Function

The objective of this project is to determine whether advanced ruminant feeding recommendations, developed with an understanding of regional feed chemistry, is a means to enhance milk production and profitability for farmers while lowering greenhouse gas emission intensities in India. The Fellow will define baseline Indian farmer behavior, attitude, and practices that shape current feeding practices of buffaloes and cattle in an Indian state with low milk production efficiency through the survey or from information already collected by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB); build a regional feed ingredient library for inclusion in and improved utility of the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) and alternative models; develop a region-specific feeding recommendation for improved animal performance (i.e., reduced methane intensity as predicted by CNCPS); show farmers the potential to enhance profitability; and provide proof-of-concept data to NDDB to promote positive policy reform. Research outcomes will include survey data of demographics, economic status, behaviors, attitudes, and practices before and after the project; a feed library and feeding recommendations for the Indian test region(s); and peer-reviewed publication of the experiment.


Key Responsibilities

Tasks will include but are not limited to:

  • Partner with the Indian government in a transparent and strategic manner to understand current practices and constraints, and align with policy creation.
  • Survey farmers to define demographics, economic status, farm characteristics, and behaviors and attitudes that shape their feeding practices.
  • Define the supply and chemical composition of regional feeds.
  • Develop and apply the CNCPS and NDDB ration balancing models for regional feed ingredients.
  • Conduct a proof-of-concept study comparing standard feeding practices to adoption of nutrient-balanced feeding recommendations on farms in India.
  • Compare estimates of methane intensities using CNCPS to measurements of methane emissions using milk fatty acid profiles +/- other methods.
  • Write and publish findings in a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Participate in advancing EDF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (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.


  • A recent Ph.D. or equivalent in animal science, dairy science, ruminant nutrition, etc.
  • Demonstrated interest in the nutrition, health, and productive efficiency of dairy cattle as well as international and sustainable development, environmental impacts of dairy production, and/or Indian agriculture.
  • Familiarity with agriculture in India strongly preferred.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Must be well organized, motivated, and detail-oriented.
  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize and meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work in a team setting and have the ability to work independently when projects are due.
  • Demonstrated self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds.
  • Demonstrated initiative and problem solving skills.


This position can be located at Cornell in Ithaca, New York (for direct access to the Cornell team and laboratories), with occasional travel to India as needed.



2 year fellowship starting between July 1, 2023 and September 1, 2023


Application Materials

Interested applicants should attach their cover letter and resume to the EDF application, together with sample peer-reviewed paper or other writing sample.

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 68,250 - 68,250 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.