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Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Methane Quantification

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

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Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Methane Quantification

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 Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have a longstanding collaborative partnership that accelerates problem-solving research relevant to national and international environmental policy discussions. The David R. and Patricia D. Atkinson Foundation has generously provided fund for this 2-year postdoctoral science fellowships, co-led by Dr. Donglai Xie at EDF and Dr. John D. Albertson at Cornell University.

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 Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability is the hub of collaborative sustainability research at Cornell University, forging vital connections among researchers, students, staff, and external partners. The center’s funding and programming accelerate groundbreaking research within and across all of Cornell’s colleges and schools. In turn, the center is the university’s home to bold ideas and powerful new models that ensure people and the planet not only survive, but thrive.

Within EDF, the Postdoctoral Science Fellow will be fully integrated with the Global Methane Science team, attending weekly calls where current methane science advancements are discussed and reviewed, as well as the weekly Canada Methane Science calls, where Canada specific science studies are discussed and coordinated. Within Cornell, the Fellow will be a team member of Dr. Albertson’s group, which is focused broadly on fugitive emissions quantification of multiple species (methane, ammonia, hydrogen) using a wide range of measurement technologies.

Overall Function

The Fellow is expected to study the temporal variation and quantification of the methane emissions from large oil and gas production regions. The desired outcomes of this project include improvements to regional methane emissions quantification methodology and a strategy for annual methane emissions quantification using snapshot mass balance measurements. Anticipated work products include publications on: 1) Temporal variability of large oil and gas production regions and strategy for annual methane emission quantification. 2) Regional methane emission measurement protocols with time-varying emission sources and non-ideal meteorological conditions.

Key Responsibilities

Tasks will include but are not limited to:

  • Research and gain deep insights into existing emission models in literature that are capable of simulating intermittent methane emissions from oil and gas production.
  • Adopt an exiting emissions model, or develop a new model if necessary, to study the temporal variability of oil and gas emissions sources to characterize the underlying temporal variability of regional-scale methane emissions form oil and gas production operations.
  • Employ a mesoscale meteorological model for uncertainty characterization and to reveal the interplay of time-varying surface methane emissions and non-steady meteorological processes and their combined impact on the variables measured by the aerial mass balance approach.
  • Verify the model predictions with EDF’s methane emission dataset obtained from previous measurement campaigns in Canada.
  • Provide support to the EDF advocacy team with policy related findings;
  • Participate 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.


  • A recent PhD in Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science, Engineering, Earth System Science, or a related field.
  • Strong atmospheric transport modeling and simulation skills.
  • Knowledge on methane emissions from oil and gas production.
  • Familiarity with various oil and gas production types and processes.
  • Strong quantitative data analysis skills and knowledge in statistics; preference for proficiency in Python or a similar language allowing analysis of large data sets.
  • Proficiency in geospatial data analytics and tools (e.g., geostatistics, ArcGIS, QGIS).
  • The ability to communicate complex ideas in written and oral form to multiple stakeholders with different levels of expertise, including the public, industry, and government policy makers.
  • Intellectual agility and comfort with working on a wide variety of environmental topics.
  • Ability to work independently and support a multi-disciplinary team, using independent judgment to plan, prioritize, and organize a diverse workload in a fast-paced environment.
  • An interest and commitment to solving environmental problems through collaborative projects based on rigorous science and solutions-focused advocacy.
  • Demonstrate self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds.


This position can be located in Cornell, or any offices of EDF in USA, or remotely anywhere within US and Canada. The candidate should be able to travel to Canada.


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

Application Materials

Interested applicants should attach their cover letter and CV to the EDF application, along with a 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.


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.

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