Water Scientist

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Portland, OR, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Entry Level (0-2 Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 72 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.




The Nature Conservancy in Oregon is working to create a world where people and nature thrive. The Water Scientist develops and applies the scientific evidence base to guide The Nature Conservancy’s water related conservation strategies across Oregon. Working with multiple teams of conservation practitioners and scientists, they provide technical and scientific leadership and support. They are a leading voice for science within the Conservancy and with external partners and policy makers.


Applied Science to Support Conservation, Restoration, and Policy (50%)
The Water Scientist (WS) will lead the development and application of water related science to guide The Nature Conservancy’s strategies across Oregon. The WS will identify the evidence needed to evaluate and adapt existing and new conservation strategies that result in effective solutions for both people and nature. The WS will assess the impacts of land and water management, ecological restoration, and climate change for hydrological, biological, and socio-economic outcomes within Oregon’s freshwater and estuarine systems.  These outcomes may include but are not limited to groundwater quantities, surface flows, flood risk to communities, water quality, aquatic biodiversity, drinking and irrigation water provisioning, fisheries, and nutrient and carbon cycling.   

The Water Scientist will travel throughout Oregon to convene diverse perspectives. The WS will collaborate within and lead multi-disciplinary work groups with internal and external partners including agency, tribal, and academic scientists, as well as land and water managers and conservation practitioners. The WS will work with conservation initiative staff and external partners to develop and implement landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects.  The WS will work with conservation and government relations staff and partners to develop and promote science-based water policy that advances conservation objectives. 

Advancing Science (25%)
The Water Scientist will work both independently and with colleagues (internal and external) to advance conservation science in freshwater and estuarine systems; developing new tools, testable strategies and approaches, and leading scientific inquiry and problem-solving related to conservation and restoration.  Advancing science includes searching for alternative ways to approach and solve conservation problems.
Communication (25%)
The Water Scientist will communicate scientific findings and syntheses and the scientific basis for conservation priorities and actions to the general public, partners, media, and the scientific community. Communication channels will include but are not limited to peer-reviewed literature, other published materials and maps, presentations at meetings and conferences, news media, and field tours. They will also work with other Conservancy departments including government relations, marketing, philanthropy, and volunteer programs to educate and inspire Oregonians on the importance of conservation. 


  • Reporting to the Director of Conservation Science, serve as a core member of the Oregon Chapter’s Science Team and Conservation Science Lab Group with significant strategic and partnership responsibilities.
  • Contribute to Freshwater, Forests, Deserts, Coast, Stewardship, and Cities conservation initiatives via matrix project teams. 
  • Develop and manage the scientific evidence base to support water-related conservation and restoration strategies across Oregon.
  • Lead research and synthesis projects that guide conservation strategy and or public policy. Responsibilities include identifying questions, building multi-disciplinary collaborations that incorporate varied perspectives, designing analytical approaches, leading interpretation and application of results, developing communication strategies and materials, and managing project timeline and deliverables. 
  • Review water policy proposals / legislation and collaborate on the crafting of water policy concepts and proposals. 
  • Create, build, and maintain effective collaborations with academic, NGO, agency, and tribal scientists in natural and social science disciplines.
  • Provide support and leadership for conservation and restoration projects. 
  • Develop compelling written and oral communication. Design and implement strategic communications to support conservation efforts.
  • Lead and manage grants, contracts, and requests for proposals.
  • May supervisor staff on a project basis and coordinate fieldwork and logistical support for research, project development and monitoring.
  • Work statewide (up to 25% travel) in both office and field settings, potentially within variable weather conditions, at remote locations, in hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances. May require long and/or flexible hours.


  • Master's Degree in science related field and 2 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience. 
  • Experience managing staff, project, workloads and finances under deadlines.                                      
  • Experience synthesizing, interpreting and communicating scientific information.         
  • Experience preparing reports of findings.  
  • Record of serving as the primary author on peer reviewed publications in scientific journals.
  • Experience working and communicating with a wide range of people.


  • Multi-language skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.
  • PhD in water science related field (e.g., aquatic ecology, hydrology, fisheries) preferred and 4 years of experience OR equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Commitment to practical solutions to conservation challenges for nature and people. Experience designing and conducting applied studies to inform immediate and long-term conservation actions. 
  • Knowledge and experience with Pacific Northwest water related conservation issues. Including knowledge of climate change impacts on freshwater and estuarine systems and understanding of the prior appropriation system of western water law, TMDL policy, salmon recovery, and other Oregon water policies and programs.
  • Demonstrated experience with advanced quantitative and statistical analysis techniques.
  • Strong knowledge of common environmental science software applications (e.g., MS Office, Arc GIS, R).
  • Ability to negotiate and develop work programs with external partners including agencies, academics, and tribes.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead multi-disciplinary teams incorporating natural, physical, and social sciences.


  • The preferred hiring range for this position is $69,000-$74,200 annually.  




This position requires a valid driver's license and compliance with the Conservancy's Auto Safety Program. Employees may not drive Conservancy-owned/leased vehicles, rental cars, or personal vehicles on behalf of the Conservancy if considered "high risk drivers." Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at www.nature.org/careers.

Employment in this position will be contingent upon completion of a Vehicle Use Agreement, which may include a review of the prospective employee's motor vehicle record.




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