Job Opening for Senior Economist on Food Systems at Union for Concerned Scientists

Senior Economist, Food Systems Food & Environment Program

Washington, DC Office

The Position

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent national nonprofit whose scientists and engineers work to solve some of our planet’s most pressing environmental and safety problems. UCS combines technical analysis and effective organizing and advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for stemming the tide of global warming, sustainable food policy and agriculture, energy and transportation, fighting misinformation and reducing the threat of catastrophic nuclear war.

Within UCS, the Food and Environment program is working to achieve our vision of a just, equitable, & sustainable US food system, from farm to fork. We’re looking for a Senior Economist who can join us in making a difference in the way we grow, produce, distribute, and consume food. In service of these goals, the Senior Economist will conduct applied economic research on market failures and externalities across a broad range of food and agriculture topics, including: land tenure, labor, agricultural production, value chains, natural environment, food security, nutrition, public health, and more. You’ll contribute your expertise and perspective to developing food and agriculture policies that support social equity and local/rural/regional economies. And you’ll be part of an amazing team of scientists, organizers, and advocates who work hard every day to make our food system one that we can all be proud of.


  • Develop publicly resonant economic analyses and other written communications
    • Initiate, design, and conduct applied economic research on market failures and externalities across a broad range of topics affecting social equity and local/rural/regional economies, including: land tenure, labor, agricultural production, value chains, natural environment, food security, nutrition, public health, and more.
    • Prepare compelling written materials on your analyses and other topics, ranging from short fact sheets to longer reports, testimony, blogs, and peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Cultivate relationships and represent UCS
    • Serve as compelling spokesperson to media, policymakers, farmers, and others, through both writing and speaking.
    • Maintain strong working relationships with colleagues in academia, government, NGOs, and industry.
  • Maintain economic and policy expertise
    • Maintain and develop comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of economic developments relevant to sustainable agriculture and food systems.
    • Provide applied analytical support for the program and serve as an economic advisor.
  • Develop program goals, strategies, and tactics
    • Apply technical knowledge to the formulation of public policy proposals and advocacy strategies that advance the program’s goals.
    • Review and critique current agricultural policies, propose new policies to address new problems, develop and recommend action plans.

Qualifications and Experience

Position requires: Ph.D. in economics, particularly applied agricultural, resource, or environmental economics, or other advanced degree in financial analysis, public policy or a closely related field. Candidates must be analytically oriented and have leadership and project management skills. Candidates must have the ability, knowledge, and flexibility to conduct applied economic research on market failures and externalities across a wide range of issues related to food, agriculture, social equity and local/rural/regional economies. The position also requires a comprehensive understanding of the appropriate use of economic and technical information in the policymaking process. Excellent written and verbal communications skills are required, including demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with policymakers and the public, as well as with economists and other professionals. Secondary expertise on one or more topics related to water quality, soil health, conservation agriculture, food supply chains, nutrition programs, racial equity, social justice, and/or local and rural economies is helpful but not required.

Position requires at least five to seven years of comparable and relevant experience in applied agricultural, environmental, resource, or food system economics or other appropriate discipline; knowledge of scientific, economic, and public policy issues related to agriculture, food systems, and environment; demonstrated ability to produce reports on economics and policy issues, and to write about complex policy and economics matters for a lay audience; and evidence of strong analytical skills. Less experience may be considered, and the annual salary will be adjusted according to experience.

May spend extended periods at computer terminal. Some overnight travel required, up to 20% time.

At UCS, comparable training and/or experience can be substituted for degrees when appropriate.

UCS is an equal opportunity employer continually seeking to diversify its staff. In particular, we’re dedicated to broadening opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy. We’re also committed to building an inclusive workplace culture where talented people of widely diverse backgrounds can thrive. We’ve adopted this commitment because we believe the inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives will improve our work and produce better societal and environmental outcomes for all, including historically disenfranchised communities. We are actively seeking people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join us in this work.

Compensation, Hours and Location: This is a full-time position based in UCS’s Washington, DC office. For those who meet all position requirements, the salary is around $88,000 annualized. UCS offers excellent benefits and a rewarding work environment. Information about the organization is available at

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, salary requirements, how you learned about the position via email to and include “Senior Economist” in the subject line. Preferred writing samples include published papers on combined natural and social science, or materials explaining science to lay readers. Email materials in Word or PDF format only. No phone calls, please. Deadline: July 27th, 2018, or until filled.

Ricardo J. Salvador
Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program
Union of Concerned Scientists | 1825 K St. NW, Suite 800 | Washington, DC 20006 |202.331.6956


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