Our organization

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent nonprofit that puts rigorous, independent science into action, developing solutions and advocating for a healthy, safe, and just future. We envision a peaceful, healthy, and just world where science serves people and the planet by guiding policy decisions, reducing risks, and improving lives.

For over five decades, we have been working as scientists, engineers, economists, advocates, and everyday people to create and advocate for innovative, practical solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing problems—from combating global warming and developing sustainable ways to feed, power, and transport ourselves, to fighting disinformation, advancing racial equity, and reducing the threat of nuclear war. Values informing our work include:

  • Science in the service of people and the planet.
  • Justice and Equity for people of all races and incomes—now, and for future generations.
  • Courage to take principled, science-based stands in the public arena.
  • Integrity to always examine evidence critically, openly, and honestly.
  • Democracy to promote a voice for all in government decisions.
  • Action inspiring and mobilizing people to build a healthier, safer, and more just world.

UCS’s Science & Innovation Program

The Director of Scientific Excellence is responsible for ensuring rigorous, independent science to enhance UCS’s effectiveness in developing solutions and advocating for a healthy, safe, and just future. This includes overseeing quality assurance and conflict of interest processes, developing scientific skills among staff, and ensuring organizational structures and processes support accessible knowledge and data. The Director of Scientific Excellence will work closely with the Director of Innovation and Collaboration to develop and implement effective strategies for the Office of Science and Innovation.

The Director will provide leadership and guidance on UCS strategies to bring scientists and robust science to bear on strengthening public policies. Seek and develop opportunities to strengthen UCS’ role and standing as a science-based organization. Scope includes but is not limited to emerging issues that do not fit well into existing programs and strategic opportunities to strengthen UCS relationships with the scientific community.

The Director will provide input on organization-wide and cross-program leadership issues and participate in setting longer-term directions for UCS related to ensuring excellent science, driving innovation, and enhancing collaboration and representation.

The Position

The essential job duties/responsibilities of the position are included in but not limited to the information listed below.

  • Ensure that strong science informs UCS advocacy positions.
  • Working closely with the President, Vice President for Science and Innovation, and Vice President for Programs, Policy, and Advocacy, provide leadership, guidance, and coordination of UCS strategies to bring scientists and robust science to bear strengthening global change policies in the U.S. and internationally.
  • Provide counsel to the President, Vice President for Science and Innovation, Management Team, and the UCS Board of Directors on scientific and strategic issues of priority concern, including troubleshooting, and assessing possible emerging opportunities for UCS engagement with the scientific community.
  • Identify and lead UCS initiatives to maintain standards of scientific excellence (including quality assurance and conflict of interest review processes) and ensure staff capacity to carry out policy-relevant research (e.g., develop and implement onboarding, professional development, and mentoring systems).
  • Support cross-program coordination among staff scientists and, as appropriate, program initiatives that engage with external scientists.
  • Strengthen relationships with scientific community & identify emerging opportunities.
  • Cultivate and maintain strong relationships with key scientists and science policy experts in academia, government and NGOs, and relevant scientific societies and institutions, and serve as lead liaison to distinguished members of the global change science community.
  • Encourage and facilitate the introduction of members of UCS’ scientific community to these networks and individuals.
  • Maintain a strong record of publication in peer-reviewed literature.
  • As appropriate, lead and/or participate in major external scientific collaborations.
  • Maintain and strengthen relationships with the scientists on the UCS Board and National Advisory Board and, as appropriate, facilitate their relationships with UCS staff.
  • Advise senior staff leadership in the deployment, coordination, and opportunities to strengthen UCS’s networks of physical, natural, social, and health scientists, engineers, and economists, and recruitment of these professionals as volunteers, members, colleagues, and advocates.
  • Under the Direction of the Vice President, Science and Innovation, lead activities to identify and address emerging science-based opportunities and issues, particularly those that do not fit well into existing programs or affect UCS’s relationship with the scientific community.

Donor Relations/Media Relations

  • In coordination with the Development Department and relevant program staff, brief major donors, foundation directors and program officers and members of the National Advisory Board.
  • Ensure effective representation of the UCS’s science-based commitment in priority development activities.
  • Support development of fundraising strategies and contacts, particularly as it applies to emerging cross-disciplinary initiatives.
  • Maintain and strengthen relationships with priority contacts.
  • In coordination with the Communications Department and Program Directors, serve as the senior media spokesperson on the scientific and as appropriate, related policy dimensions of global environmental change issues.
  • Represent UCS on these issues in key policy and public forums.


Qualifications and Experience

  • Position requires a degree in a relevant scientific field, and a sophisticated understanding of the role of science in shaping and motivating public policy on UCS issues.
  • Expertise in the scientific and related policy dimensions of climate and related global environmental change issues is required.
  • Strong team leadership and excellent communication skills are required, as is the ability to understand and navigate in public policy forums.
  • Must be able to engage and effectively communicate with scientists in a variety of disciplines, policymakers and other leaders in the public and private sectors, and the public.
  • Position requires ten or more years of successful comparable and relevant experience, including significant management experience, and demonstrated commitment to excellence in the application of science to public policy, especially on global change issues.
  • A strong reputation in the scientific community and a distinguished record of policy-relevant research is preferred, as is a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and support the professional development of scientific and other staff.
  • Experience with the media and public outreach and familiarity with scientist organizing strategies is highly desirable.

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

Supervisory Responsibility

No direct supervisory responsibilities. However, the position does require general oversight of the development and implementation of policy and advocacy strategies by all UCS programs, and supervision of staff on special projects or campaigns.

Physical Exertion

Little or no exertion; may require extended periods at a computer.


Significant travel may be required.

Key Words

Non-profit, Public Policy, Team Leadership, Scientific Community Relationships, Public Speaking, Relationship Building

UCS is an equal opportunity employer actively seeking to diversify its staff. 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 believe the inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives will improve our work and produce better societal and environmental outcomes for all, including historically disenfranchised communities.



This is a full-time remote/hybrid position. For those who meet all position requirements, the salary range is $129,001 to $145,130. UCS offers excellent benefits and a rewarding work environment. *CA Resident Only, we offer a 12% salary differential*

Information about the organization is available at http://www.ucsusa.org.

Comparable training and/or experience can be substituted for degrees when appropriate.

More about the team: Our team is made up of a dedicated group of researchers, scientists, communicators, campaigners, and advocates from wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive team and a collaborative and supportive work environment where all staff can thrive. We continually strive to create an environment which is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, parents, empty-nesters, and people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.

To Apply: We know there are great candidates who won’t check all of these boxes, and we also know you might bring important skills that we haven’t considered. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. Please upload a cover letter, resume, and writing sample. In the cover letter, please confirm that the listed salary meets your expectations. Upload materials in Word or PDF format only. No phone calls, please.

This position is NOT in the bargaining unit.

Covid Mandate for New Hires:

For in office roles, UCS employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees are considered fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC. All new hires who will be reporting to an office location must provide notice of their vaccination status and vaccination documentation, on or before their first day of work. For all others, UCS strongly encourages full vaccinations among its employees, up to and including booster shots, even if working remotely.

Deadline: Until filled.