Post-doctoral Fellow, Ag Soil Carbon Storage

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.  

Socioeconomic Influences on the Realizable Scale of Storage


Solving the climate crisis requires a suite of strategies, including efforts to increase carbon stocks within natural systems like forests, soil and oceans while reducing net greenhouse gas emissions from these systems. The idea of large potential increases in carbon stocks within the biosphere has led to bold proposals with varying levels of science-based understanding of the realizable scale, efficacy or potential tradeoffs involved. The situation risks under-delivering on the climate benefits possible by drawing attention and investment to efforts with limited or even damaging impacts.


This Post-doctoral Fellow position joins a cohort of 4 other post-docs working on EDF’s Nature-based Climate Solutions (NbCS) project. The overall intent of this project is to address two of the largest 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 market confidence in the integrity of carbon credits available for purchase. The NbCS team conducts research and convenes stakeholders to find agreement on the science, policy frameworks, measurement and accounting standards that underpin high-integrity credits. The project focuses on natural climate solutions where we can 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, agricultural soils and oceans.


With this Fellow, EDF seeks to refine existing spatial estimates of the magnitude of potential agricultural soil carbon storage by incorporating realistic social and economic constraints and geospatial uncertainty. Datasets for the US and possibly 1-2 other countries will be developed to demonstrate the influence of these constraints on the potential pool sizes currently framing the voluntary and regulatory discussion of agriculture’s contribution to the climate solution. We will collaborate with other environmental non-profit organizations to refine the current maps of carbon storage potential. The resulting syntheses and conclusions will provide the basis for sound policy development to enable global net zero emissions by 2050.


Overall Function


Environmental Defense Fund seeks a recent Ph.D. recipient to conduct research and analysis of social and economic constraints on realizing the full biophysical potential of carbon storage in agricultural soils. The focus will initially be the midwestern corn/soy landscape but will expand to cover the contiguous US and potentially 1-2 other countries. The fellow will identify and convene experts to develop specific questions for spatial analysis, analyze datasets, and develop spatial syntheses to estimate the realistic scale of this nature-based climate solution. Results will be integrated with the spatial estimates of biophysical soil C storage on existing data platforms.


Key Responsibilities


  • Collect and synthesize spatial socio-economic datasets that influence the potential size of the agricultural soil carbon pool;
  • Identify and coordinate workshops of scientists, economists, and social scientists to identify datasets and analyses necessary to develop the realistic magnitude of this nature-based climate solution;
  • Use analytics to integrate and synthesize the input received, focused on catalyzing data-driven science and advocacy;
  • Write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and reports/fact sheets/blog posts for general audiences on the realistic versus theoretical potential of nature-based climate solutions;
  • Maintain and build ties to the academic/research communities, through outreach, presentations at workshops and conferences, informal contacts, etc.;
  • Pursue projects and collaborations in their own areas of interest;
  • Participate in EDF’s professional development program for post-doctoral fellows.



  • recent Ph.D. in geography, agricultural economics or related science with interest in working at the interface of science and policy
  • Strong spatial analytical, statistical and synthetic skills
  • Demonstrated record of scientific work
  • A track record of peer-reviewed publications, leadership of a research project, and presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Superior oral and written communication and networking skills
  • Familiarity with nature-based climate solutions
  • Interest in and demonstrated capacity for translating scientific theory into real-world applications and practice
  • Ability to work with and communicate effectively with researchers and non-scientists
  • Ability to work as a member of a highly collaborative team in a fast-paced environment




This Fellowship will preferably be based in EDF’s Washington, D.C. office, but is open to other locations and remote postings.




This position is a two-year post-doctoral fellowship.


Application Materials



Please apply to this position using a CV, a letter of interest, and any publications relevant to the above project. 

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.