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Senior Conservation Data Scientist

Job Location

Washington D.C


Type of Job




Published By

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Published Date

May 5, 2022

About the job

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The Senior Conservation Data Scientist (Scientist) leads technology development and data science as part of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife, where we pioneer creative, pragmatic conservation solutions at the intersection of science, technology, and policy.  This unique combination of approaches is essential in an age of increasing threats to wildlife and static or dwindling resources for conservation. We identify current and emerging conservation challenges, develop solutions that improve conservation outcomes, and use a suite of techniques and partnerships to advocate for those solutions.


Reporting to the Director, the Scientist plays a key role in CCI by leading a team of developers and data scientists to generate new insights and tools that improve conservation. The incumbent is responsible for analyzing large and complex datasets relating to imperiled species; communicating the results through a variety of creative media; developing novel tools and resources to inform endangered species conservation; managing junior technical and scientific staff developing web-first conservation applications; mentoring and supervising interns; cultivating partnerships with other organizations to implement conservation strategies. The Scientist uses current and emerging data science methods, such as machine learning and computer vision, as well as classical statistical tools. The incumbent will also be Defenders’ lead in applying remotely sensed data, including satellite imagery, to better understand how land use decisions are affecting endangered species. The Scientist must be an ambitious, entrepreneurial, and creative self-starter driven by the opportunity to use empirical research to make smarter decisions about wildlife conservation. Background in endangered species science and policy, especially the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), is mandatory. A minimum of five years of work experience in this area is strongly preferred.


Primary and essential functions in which the position is the primary owner and driver; should not include functions that are generally delegated to other employees.

  1. Lead the CCI data and technology team.Manage junior staff, including application developers and data science interns, by providing direction and context guiding the development of public web applications and the platform.
    Ensure that projects and regular job requirements, such as weekly reporting, are completed in a timely fashion.
    Ensure direction from Defenders’ leadership, including the Director, is shared with and contextualized for supervisees.
  2. Lead data science to improve wildlife conservation.Use existing and emerging quantitative and computational methods to analyze data to determine how conservation is carried out and can be improved. Advise the Director on emerging trends in data science.
    Serve as Defenders’ lead scientist in the use of remotely sensed data, using data from Landsat and Sentinel 1 and 2 satellites, for example, to monitor species habitat status and compliance with wildlife laws.
  3. Share analysis results to shape outcomes.Create and publish novel online applications, written products, and other tools to help communicate new findings and advocate for better conservation approaches.
    Generate data visualization and exploration products using tools such as R/python, Google and Esri products, and other methods.
  4. Build new partnerships in and outside of Defenders.Create and manage new partnerships with other organizations to develop and apply innovative, technology-based tools and resources.
    Facilitate adoption of CCI work products by partners in order to improve wildlife conservation.
  5. Develop new tools.Brainstorm and prototype new tools that fill a need in wildlife conservation.
    Collaborate with Defenders staff, outside conservation organizations, and federal agencies to identify technical needs and opportunities to develop new methods and approaches to solving conservation challenges.
  6. Perform all other related duties as assigned.


Education: Bachelor’s (B.A./B.S.) degree or equivalent

Experience: 8 years of relevant experience; 3 years supervisory experience (if applicable)

An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.

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All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.


Defenders requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

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