Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Resilient Agriculture

Environmental Defense Fund
New York City, New York (US)
Closing date
Feb 8, 2023

View more

Atmospheric Sciences
Career Level
Education Level
Relocation Cost
Sector Type

Job Details

Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Resilient Agriculture

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 Fellow will be an EDF employee, joining the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Team at EDF, which focuses on the challenge of ensuring global food security while maintaining rural livelihoods and reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture – all in the face of a changing climate. The CSA team, which includes biophysical and social scientists, economists, policy experts and project managers focuses on opportunities for climate mitigation and adaptation in cropping and livestock systems in the U.S. and EDF’s other core geographies. We work to advance the scientific understanding of agricultural systems, and to translate the science into action through engagement with farmers, agricultural lenders, food supply chain companies and policy-makers. The Fellow will closely engage with the Systems Agronomy for Global Development team at Cornell, the joint EDF-Cornell Sustainability Leadership Program, and a thriving community of scientists across EDF and participate in ongoing meetings with program and policy staff across the organization.

Overall Function

The Fellow will work closely with the agricultural teams at EDF and Cornell and will report directly to the co-P.I.’s (Dr. Eileen McLellan at EDF and Dr. Andrew McDonald at Cornell). They will use downscaled climate data together with crop and hydrologic models to identify (i) U.S. cropping systems at greatest near-to mid-term risk (i.e., through mid-century) of drought, or heat-induced crop failure from climate change, and (ii) priority locations where crop diversification or changes in cropping intensity will benefit food production, farmer income and the environment. The Fellow will then work with EDF experts in finance, business, policy and social transformations to articulate transition pathways for these priority locations, including identifying potential drivers of systemic change to accelerate transformation. We anticipate that the Fellow will lead the writing of two or more peer-reviewed publications related to this work, and will make significant contributions to white papers, policy briefs and other materials used in our advocacy work.

Key Responsibilities

Specific tasks will include, but are not limited to:

  • Assemble down-scaled climate and hydrologic data.
  • Couple climatic information with dynamic crop models to evaluate the impact of anticipated changes on crop yield, yield variability, water resources and (in some cases) crop quality.
  • Identify adaptation opportunities for specific crop-region combinations, with an emphasis on alternative crops which would be more resilient to climate change that could be produced without negative impacts to farm income and rural economies, and would avoid or moderate environmental externalities (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, habitat loss).
  • Evaluate transition pathways to alternative cropping systems, including time-scale for action, enabling factors, and constraints to adoption.
  • Write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and presenting project results at scientific workshops and conferences.
  • Contribute to white papers, reports, fact sheets, policy briefs and blogs on the importance of adaptation, crop- and region-specific adaptation options, and pathways to agricultural system transitions.
  • Nurture ties to the broader research communities through formal presentations, hosting/participation in workshops, informal contacts etc.
  • Participate in the EDF-Cornell Sustainability Leadership Program for post-doctoral fellows and other professional development opportunities.
  • Participate in advancing EDF’s 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. in agro-climatology, process-based agronomy, crop systems ecology, or related area.
  • Strong analytical skills, including demonstrated experience with dynamic models of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, data-driven analytics, and spatial modelling. 
  • Experience with statistical computing (e.g. R or Python).
  • Demonstrated record of scholarly publications.
  • Interest in expanding expertise to new areas, and to the science-policy interface
  • Ability to work with and communicate effectively with both scientists and non-scientists.
  • Aptitude and inclination towards creative problem solving with transdisciplinary approaches.
  • 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.


The Fellow will be based in EDF’s office in New York City, with travel to Cornell and to other EDF locations as needed.


This is a 2-year position, with an anticipated start date of June 2023.

Application Materials

Interested applicants should attach their cover letter and resume to the EDF application, together with any publications relevant to the above project.

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.


With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. This leading green group, with programs from Boston to Beijing, has tripled in size over the past decade by focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches. You can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and a focus on results are a way of life.

Find Us
SUITE 1300
United States

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert