Senior Air Quality 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 that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, 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 the Core Values that allow us to experiment courageously in our work while staying true to who we’ve been as an organization for 50 years. Are you a results oriented individual who is passionate about creating environmental solutions that make a lasting difference in the world? Do you respect diverse perspectives, talents and contributions? Do you value innovation and enjoy designing and using a wide range of problem-solving tools? Do you embrace environmental goals with a sense of optimism while taking into account real-world dynamics? If you have integrity and a strong desire to uphold a commitment to science, rigorous analysis, intellectual honesty and ethical action, then EDF is the place for you.

Location is flexible: preference for Austin, San Francisco or Boulder but this role can be based in any EDF office. 


Overall Function


The Senior Air Quality Scientist will be a core member of an interdisciplinary team working to demonstrate and scale “hyperlocal” air quality assessments patterned on the work of EDF and partners using Google Street View cars or dense stationary monitoring networks. The senior scientist will provide scientific leadership and contribute to the team’s goal of refining hyperlocal data collection, analysis and presentation approaches that, in turn, increase the adoption and impact of air pollution mitigation strategies in diverse geographies across the world. The senior scientist will also play a key role in coordinating and managing science-based partnerships in China and Europe. Initial areas of inquiry include: development of quantitative metrics that enable characterization of fine-scale air pollution data across communities; characterization of the information content afforded by fixed and mobile data collection, separately and in tandem; and, for mobile datasets, demonstration of methods to reduce the amount of data needed to reveal fine-scale spatial patterns of urban air pollution by accounting for effects of temporally variable meteorological conditions and background pollution. This work is expected to result in scientific publications, “in-house” analyses for use by other staff, and written materials aimed at policy makers, journalists, and the public at large.  


The Senior Air Quality Scientist will report to the Associate Chief Scientist.


This is a 2-year term position. Upon conclusion of the term, the term may be renewed based on funding and programmatic need.


Key Responsibilities

  • Conduct original research and data analysis to demonstrate insights from hyperlocal air quality measurements, as well as identifying potential use cases and limitations of hyperlocal approaches
  • Provide expert scientific guidance to EDF’s air quality research portfolio and program/executive-level strategic decisions
  • Coordinate research projects conducted by other organizations in collaboration with EDF (e.g., universities and outside contractors)
  • Lead efforts to convene worldwide experts to facilitate discussions of science advancements and emerging issues related to air quality science
  • Synthesize scientific results and insights from recent literature and communicate that information to a multi-disciplinary team, including EDF scientists, policy experts, and corporate and community partnership specialists, as well as external partners
  • Publish papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and write reports/fact sheets/blog posts for general audiences
  • Represent EDF externally, including scientific conferences and workshops, meetings with community groups and advocacy organizations, policy makers, and the media
  • Support EDF’s development team, including communicating with donors and foundations and writing proposals to secure funding
  • Manage additional staff




  • Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science or a relevant specialty in the natural sciences, engineering, or environmental studies
  • 5+ years research experience
  • Demonstrated ability to process and interpret large datasets of air pollution measurements to derive policy-relevant insights
  • Experience connecting scientific research to real-world policy and in bridging the worlds of advocacy and academia
  • 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.
  • Record of independent research and publication in peer-review literature
  • Management skills and ability to mentor others
  • Established network of contacts within the scientific community, preferably including in Europe and China
  • Ability to work at the cutting-edge of air quality science and remain up-to-date with scientific literature
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to convey scientific concepts to non-scientists
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively with diverse colleagues in a fast-paced, dynamic and entrepreneurial environment
  • Intellectual agility, comfort working across disciplines in a matrix organization and willingness to learning new skills (on-the-job training will be provided to familiarize the successful candidate with media and policy skills and issues)
  • Strong quantitative skills (statistical analysis, geospatial analysis, programming)
  • Willingness to travel internationally and work across different time zones
  • Fluency (reading, writing and speaking) Mandarin Chinese a plus

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.