Environmental Defense Fund: Social and Behavioral Science Research Fellow

Apply here. Applications due Friday, January 13 2017.

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for this position.

Website: www.edf.org

Location: New York, NY

Fellowship Position

Position title: Social and Behavioral Science Research Fellow

Department: Office of the Chief Scientist

Reports to: Senior Scientist

Address of fellowship placement: 257 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010

Department Description

The Office of Chief Scientist is the nexus of science at EDF, ensuring that the natural and social science that is the backbone for all EDF policy positions is based on the best available information. To be most effective in this role the Office of Chief Scientist provides programmatic support for all scientists at EDF and fosters relationships with scientists outside the organization. The OCS team works on projects across all of EDF's programs, translating natural and social science basic and applied research into actionable ideas for colleagues who are designing programs and projects.

Position Description

The Social and Behavioral Science Fellow will work in OCS integrating cutting edge social and behavioral science concepts into EDF's program. The Fellow will work with EDF scientists to design studies and experiments conducted independently by EDF or in partnership with researchers in top universities throughout the world (Cornell University, University of Michigan and Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá among others). The work of the Social and Behavioral Science Fellow will serve to promote the application of diverse social science concepts throughout EDF's programmatic work.

EDF's social scientist translates basic behavioral science findings into actionable ideas that can be put to use in our work and facilitates connection between EDF staff and external social/behavioral scientists with targeted expertise relevant to each program. EDF's social scientist is also responsible for developing original lines of research that add value to the organization and establish our reputation as a center for high caliber social and behavioral science work. The
Social and Behavioral Science Fellow would serve as the primary support for EDF's Senior Social Scientist. 

Below are some examples of projects in which the Social and Behavioral Science Fellow would participate, grouped by program and with sample responsibilities. The work of the Senior Social Scientist is very dynamic so the number and nature of projects varies over time—the list below only includes ongoing projects.

Marketing and Communications:

  • Design, analyze, visualize data from experiments designed to boost the effectiveness of communications campaigns and mobilize our online activist base.
  • Assist in the development of experiments that would increase the participation of minorities and millennials in environmental organizations. 

US Climate and Energy:

  • Assist in the design and the running of studies and experiments on the impact of EDF's recent work on extent and size of leaks in the natural gas distribution system in urban centers across the country.
  • Assist in the design and programming of online experiments on the perceived risk and benefits of clean energy production among the general public and on studies linking these perceptions to intentions to support policy that promote clean energy production and consumption.

Oceans Program:

  • Assist in the creation and analysis of data from survey studies in fishing communities in Mexico and the Asian Pacific.
  • Assist in the design of field experiments and communication campaigns that would be implemented in Mexico and other countries to promote acceptance of conservation programs intended to protect specific species.

Office of the Chief Scientist:

  • Organize workshops and meetings intended to foster academic partnerships between EDF and academics in universities throughout the country.
  • Under guidance of EDF's Social Scientist advance studies currently in design that test the application of well-known social psychological and cultural psychological phenomena to efforts to engage ethnic minorities across the country on environmental issues.
  • Although the Fellow will be primarily focused on social and behavioral science, he/she may be called upon from time to time for research support on any number of initiatives depending on need.

Examples of specific responsibilities, projects, tasks, and/or other duties of the Fellow include:

The Social and Behavioral Science Fellow will be expected to:

  • Conduct thorough literature searches relevant to a variety of issues, synthesizing and translating it for the practitioners and EDF, most of whom do not have an extensive background in social or behavioral science.
  • Work closely with EDF’s Senior Social Scientist in the design of new studies and experiments for both specific program work as it develops and for EDF's own basic and applied science research.
  • Carry out analyses of data collected from the experiments and studies and then synthesize key findings into reports and presentations. For this, the Fellow will be trained in multivariate regression by the supervisor, if the Fellow is not knowledgeable.
  • Assist in the preparation of materials for scientific conferences and of manuscripts for peer review and publication.
  • Design and program experiments online using platforms such as Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, or programming from code.


  • Recent undergraduate degree in social or behavioral science field;
  • Experience with survey and experimental methods in psychology or sociology; 
  • Proficiency with statistics, preferably with experience in multivariate regression;
  • Strong interest in social psychology, decisionmaking, and cross-cultural psychology;
  • Preferred majors: psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, environmental engineering, or environmental science.
  • Spanish language fluency would be a plus, though it is not necessary.

Professional Development

As member of the EDF science team, the Social and Behavioral Science Fellow, will receive many benefits EDF grants its scientists including ability to attend conferences, participation in off-site writing retreats, use of EDF’s peer-reviewed journal subscriptions, and full access to EDF’s foremost scientists and experts. The Fellow will also be encouraged to network within the organization, join internal working groups, attend substantive meetings on a variety of issues, coauthor papers, and present research at conferences. This position is ideal for recent college graduates seeking research experience to strengthen their graduate school application.