Senior Soil Scientist

Point Blue Conservation Science

Point Blue Conservation Science

Petaluma, CA, USA
Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2024

Location: Petaluma, California (Hybrid)
Deadline to Apply: Position is open until filled, with review starting June 17, 2024
Position Type: Full Time, Exempt, 3 years (ideal start date 8/15/2024)

Compensation and Benefits: Salary is based on qualifications and internal equity. Estimated salary range for this position is $77,978-$94,687 annually. Point Blue provides a comprehensive benefit package including employer paid medical and dental for staff and 75% for dependents. Other benefits include life insurance, long-term care, long- and short-term disability, flexible spending accounts, and retirement plans as well as time off benefits.

About Point Blue:
Point Blue Conservation Science is a growing and internationally renowned non-profit with over 160 staff and scientists based in Petaluma, California. Founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, our mission and programs have evolved over time to include a broad range of conservation activity, from restoration to environmental education to innovative work in the field of regenerative agriculture. We have a proven track record of scientific excellence.

We recognize that increasing racial, gender, cultural, and other diversity, equity, and inclusion factors at Point Blue and in our partnerships is essential for the success of our mission, vision, and strategy. We are actively engaging in a process to create lasting organizational change. We seek applicants from all backgrounds to join our teams. We strongly encourage applications from people with backgrounds that are under-represented in the conservation community.

Job Summary:

The Point Blue Soils Program seeks a scientist with a strong background in soil biogeochemistry, soil microbiology, or pedology and expertise in process-based ecosystem models, data analytics, geospatial analysis, and/or machine learning. The Senior Soil Scientist will initially spend a majority of time facilitating the development and expansion of our Agricultural Carbon Monitoring Program database, interfacing with the Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM) within a partnership funded through a USDA Climate Smart Commodities Grant (the “ACTION” project). Collaborating closely with the Point Blue EcoInformatics Group, the Senior Soil Scientist will explore new data partnerships and work toward soil carbon database harmonization across California and US working landscapes. Beyond managing and basic analysis of agricultural ecosystem carbon data, the Senior Soil Scientist will explore options for data use in global biogeochemical models and new opportunities as they arise.

Although the initial work effort falls within the scope of our USDA ACTION project, the Senior Soil Scientist will contribute tangentially to multiple projects across the Soils Program portfolio. Projects include topics such as: climate-smart grassland restoration, microbial inoculation in conservation, rangeland conservation practice impact on carbon, soil health research and various other projects. The Senior Soil Scientist is expected to pursue new research opportunities, including potential funding of additional projects to advance Point Blue’s strategic plan. The Senior Soil Scientist is expected to have the skills to independently design scientific projects, collect and analyze data, and publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals as first and/or co-author and to communicate findings at scientific conferences and via non-scientific writing, outreach and workshops to a diverse broader community.

The position is based out of Point Blue headquarters in Petaluma, CA, with approximately four in-person meetings per month with the Soils Team and other colleagues. Otherwise remote work is optional.

Specific duties include, but are not limited to:

Scientific research and project management (70%)

  1. Support database design for the nascent Point Blue Agricultural Carbon Monitoring Program (within the ACTION project), including meta-data intake, data aggregation and synthesis, and final reports for applied conservation management.
  2. Create a vision for expanded data use from the ACTION project, including communicating project results via publications, ecosystem modeling efforts, conferences, field days and other workshops.
  3. Remain up to date on new research, initiatives, and new and existing collaborations in soil monitoring, specifically in a conservation of biodiversity, soil resource management, climate resilience and/or soil carbon context. Leverage this knowledge to expand the scope, potential harmonization, and research expansion using Point Blue soils data.
  4. Contribute to efforts to model working lands ecosystem carbon response to conservation practices using global biogeochemical models (e.g., DayCent).
  5. Generate novel ideas for new projects in soil research in both natural and working landscapes, collaborating with internal and external groups and initiatives.
  6. Contribute to the expansion of soils research within different departments at Point Blue and consult on soil science research, questions, and concerns of staff and partners.
  7. Manage and participate in occasional field days to collect soil and other environmental samples.

Support outreach and education (20%)

  1. Design presentations for Soil Team outreach and training, specifically supporting the Conservation Monitoring Ecologist in their work to create a national training program for Technical Assistance Providers participating in the Ag-C Monitoring Program.
  2. Explore options to contribute to research and grant development via project funding, coordination and implementation, from study design to publication of results.
  3. Support the ACTION project with the Director of Soil Research and Conservation and Project Manager to ensure grant deliverables, reporting requirements, and deadlines are met.
  4. May oversee Soils Program Staff (Point Blue Scientist levels I-II) as the team expands.
  5. Develops and maintains scientific collaborations; thinks outside the box to cultivate and coordinate new and diverse professional relationships to expand the Point Blue partner network.

Other Duties as Assigned (10%)

  1. Help to find and write grant proposals and contracts through relationship building.
  2. Perform special projects, research, and other duties as assigned, including the support and development of organizational diversity, equity and inclusion goals.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • In-depth technical knowledge of advanced soil science, with an emphasis in biogeochemistry, microbiology, or pedology, in either natural or working lands.
  • Knowledge of statistical theory and analysis, and ability and enthusiasm to consult on a range of experimental projects.
  • Knowledge of computer systems (including cloud-based systems) and software related to data management, analysis, and visualization, including R, and version control and collaboration tools such as GitHub.
  • High-level understanding of global processed based ecosystem models (our team currently implements DayCENT) and/or high-level ability to use Geographic Information Systems for mapping, analysis, and modeling, including ArcGIS and/or QGIS .
  • Field experience in conservation research is a necessity to best work with organizations and agencies involved in conservation and ecological research on natural and working lands.
  • Ability to design scientific experiments to understand soil processes and to sample, analyze, and interpret biotic and abiotic components of soil.
  • Ability to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing for scientific and non-scientific audiences, including effective visualization programs (e.g. PowerPoint, Mural, Canva etc.).
  • Develop technical content for varied audiences and purposes, e.g.: Publish manuscripts, lead competitive proposals, and assist with project reports.

Certifications and/or Licenses:

  • Valid California driver’s license and favorable driving history, and proof of auto insurance.
  • Ability to obtain relevant certificates, permits, or licenses related to working with soil.

Preferred Education and Experience:

This position requires a combination of education and experience in soil biogeochemistry, soil microbiology, or pedology with a Master’s Degree + 5 years experience or Ph. D. + 2 years experience.

Work Environment & Physical Requirements:

  • This position operates in a professional office environment and in remote field locations with uneven terrain, limited vehicle access, limited cell phone reception, and sometimes in a solitary capacity.
  • Routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, and filing cabinets.
  • Ability to hike in uneven terrain while carrying gear and/or backpack.
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds occasionally.

Position Type, Expected Hours of Work, and Travel:

  • This is a full-time position.
  • Days and hours of work vary depending on season, fieldwork, and timeline requirements.
  • Evening and weekend work may be required as job duties demand.
  • Travel to meetings and occasional field work across the US.

Apply: Please complete this application form. You will be asked to upload a 1-2 page cover letter and cv/resume. If you experience difficulty with the application process, please contact Must have eligibility/be legally authorized to work in the United States.

Point Blue is an equal employment opportunity employer and does not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, citizenship status, disability status of an otherwise qualified individual, membership or application for membership in an uniformed service, or membership in any other class protected by applicable law and will make reasonable accommodation for applicants with disabilities to complete the application and/or participate in the interview process.