Associate Scientist of Climate Smart Spatial Planning, Conservation International

Posted by: CAKE Team
Post Date: 11/27/2023
Opportunity Type: Job
Organization/Grantor: Conservation International
Position/Title/Fund: Associate Scientist of Climate Smart Spatial Planning
Type/Term: Full-time, Permanent
Location: Arlington, VA / Seattle, WA / Santa Barbara, CA
Deadline: December 6, 2023

Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork, and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, biodiversity, and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples, and local communities to help people and nature thrive together.

To proactively prepare for the projected impacts of climate change and escalating human development pressures, strategic land use planning is needed to balance growing demands placed on land for agricultural and renewable energy production with the urgent needs of biodiversity conservation and nature-based climate solutions. Recent research has emphasized the urgency of using land more efficiently as the global land squeeze will increasingly place the land area needed for people’s food, feed, and fiber security, and the land required to support a stable climate and healthy ecosystems, in direct conflict with one another. As such, there is an urgent need to develop and implement forward-looking land use planning that can simultaneously support thriving human and natural communities – and provide countries with a tractable pathway to achieving multiple commitments (e.g. NDC, NBSAP, SDG).

This Associate Scientist position, housed in Conservation International’s (CI) Moore Center for Science, will lead methodological development technical analysis, stakeholder engagement, and project coordination associated with the joint CI-UCSB project 'Spatial Planning for Climate Change: Land Use for Conservation, Agriculture, and Energy' (SPARCLE). The project, part of the CI-UCSB Climate Solutions Collaborative, will help develop the science of integrated spatial planning across multiple sectors under scenarios of development and future climate change. Further, the Associate Scientist will engage decision-makers and other interested parties to integrate the science of climate-smart planning into conservation action and broader land management decision-making as part of CI’s ‘Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions’ initiative.

The Associate Scientist will also serve as a technical knowledge resource for additional research projects in support of CI science related to biodiversity and climate change. This will involve conducting new analyses and developing tools that provide CI and its partners with the most salient data and proper contextualization of results needed to make science-based decisions for conservation. The position is ultimately responsible for contributing to research projects and/or serving as a technical resource to help implement CI’s mission of empowering societies to sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity.

This position is based in Arlington-VA, Seattle-WA or Santa Barbara-CA.


  • Lead the development of novel methods, and use systematic conservation prioritization tools to identify climate-resilient land management choices that balance the needs of conservation with those of the agriculture and energy sectors.
  • Manage a multi-year applied research project, with responsibilities that include work planning, budget tracking, management of student research fellows, and stewarding productive relationships with scientific collaborators and other program partners.
  • Recruit, create, or critically review spatial data for use in the integrated planning framework. including biodiversity and ecosystem metrics, development pressures across agricultural, energy, and mining sectors, land use projections, and keeping up to date on relevant scientific literature.
  • Write reports and develop materials for internal decision-makers and external stakeholders. Lead or contribute to 2 or more publications per year in peer-reviewed and highly visible scientific journals. Ensure consistency with CI’s intellectual property rights prior to publication and/or release of data.
  • Develop aesthetic data visualization and communication materials for more effectively sharing scientific data and results to technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Serve as a technical resource and play an analytical and supporting role in various projects that further CI’smission.
  • Promote capacity building by sharing technical best practices and working collaboratively to instill effective information sharing across CI programs and units.


  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, ecology, biology, or related discipline with 4 to 6 years of relevant work experience.
  • Expertise with spatial planning and prioritization tools (e.g., ‘prioritizr’, Zonation, Marxan).
  • Fluency in spatial analysis tools (e.g. ArcGIS, QGIS, R spatial, Google Earth Engine).
  • Familiarity with data associated with projected scenarios of climate change and development/land use.
  • Experience in communicating technical concepts to non-expert audiences through presentations, outreach materials, and data visualizations.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills requiring knowing when to use courtesy, tact, and/or diplomacy.


  • Graduate degree in environmental science, ecology, biology, land system science, energy, agriculture, or related discipline with 2 to 4 years of relevant work experience.
  • In-depth knowledge of problems and solutions related to conservation, biodiversity, and climate change on global and local scales.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to effectively prioritize and produce high-quality work under time constraints.
  • Expertise working with terrestrial biodiversity data sets and informatics.
  • Demonstrated experience in scientific writing and peer-reviewed publications.
  • Working proficiency in Spanish, French, or Portuguese.

Working Conditions:

  • Work is performed in a typical office environment.
  • Frequent travel: > 25% may be necessary.
  • Flexibility in work schedule to accommodate time differences between HQ and the region may be necessary.
  • Guidance on flexible work arrangements will be shared during the interview process.
  • This position has funding for 3 years.
How to Apply:

Apply online. Please submit a resume and cover letter.