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Senior Research Lead - Sustainable Cities

Are you an experienced scientist with a passion for sustainable cities? Earthwatch is recruiting a senior research lead to develop and lead our sustainable cities research, a key area of our new Strategy.

Deadline: 20 January 2019

Location: Oxford, UK, with occasional travel
DepartmentEngagement and Science
Reports to: Director of Engagement and Science
Direct reports: Research Manager(s)
Salary: £36,000 to £41,000 per annum, gross
Contract: Full time, Open-ended
Deadline for application: 20 January 2019
Interviews: 1st InterviewsW/C 4 February / 2nd Interviews - W/C 11 February


Are you an experienced scientist with a passion for sustainable cities? Do you have a strong track-record in designing, disseminating and securing funding for solution-focused research? Are you interested in working in partnership with international researchers, resource managers, businesses and communities to influence urban policy and planning? Earthwatch is recruiting a senior research lead to develop and lead our sustainable cities research, a key area of our new Strategy.

Earthwatch is an international environmental NGO. Our mission is to empower people to save our planet. We do this by creating knowledge and inspiring action through hands-on science and environmental engagement. We address big environmental challenges by working together with individuals, communities and organisations. We aim to create a global community that values and nurtures a sustainable planet.

Applicants must have the right to work in the UK; Earthwatch is unable to support visa applications.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.


Role purpose:

To lead Earthwatch Europe’s sustainable cities research team and develop, deliver, disseminate and raise funds for innovative applied research in this field, including citizen science programmes. Develop Earthwatch’s expertise and track-record in sustainability solutions, focused on urban climate resilience, pollution control and biodiversity.

Key deliverables:

  • Lead the delivery of research within Earthwatch Europe’s new sustainable cities focus area, including complex programme elements, management of senior external relationships and overseeing research delivered by the team
  • Generate new project ideas and lead the development of new research projects and programmes that engage and empower public, business and third-sector audiences and provide important evidence to inform the creation and effective management of sustainable cities
  • Secure funding for new projects and programmes through partnership building, independent bid writing (research funding and trusts and foundations) and by providing subject matter support to the corporate development team, adhering to Earthwatch processes and standards
  • Work closely with the engagement and learning teams to optimise opportunities for public engagement, learning and personal action at both programme development and project delivery stages
  • Build and maintain a broad knowledge base and extensive international network among research, engagement and technology partners, NGOs and (inter)governmental institutions working on sustainable cities. Ensure you are well informed about current and upcoming environmental/engagement concerns, knowledge gaps, technologies and opportunities for influencing, partnerships, programme development and fundraising
  • Engage with key regional, national and international decision-makers, including from policy, business and resource management, identify and pursue opportunities to influence national and international policy.
  • Perform statistical and geographical data analyses and write peer reviewed publications
  • Work closely with the communications team to create maximum impact through targeted communications, including peer-reviewed papers, conference presentations and popular articles. Operate as expert in the media
  • Work closely with relevant programme managers to ensure research is delivered to time, within budget and in concert with other programme needs, including engagement, learning, IT and communication
  • Line-manage research managers, overseeing and giving direction to projects they are delivering and supporting their professional development
  • Contribute to wider organisational priorities as required


Person specification:


  • Strong scientific background (PhD or equivalent in a relevant topic) and broad expertise on sustainable cities, in particular related to climate resilience, pollution and urban biodiversity, evidenced by a strong track-record of relevant peer-reviewed publications. Demonstrable knowledge of national and international legislation, upcoming innovations and wider agendas relevant to sustainable cities
  • A strong track-record in designing, delivering and disseminating innovative, impactful and applied research and experience in using a wide range of research techniques
  • An excellent understanding of how to create impact through knowledge dissemination, learning, stakeholder engagement and influencing decision makers
  • Written/spoken fluency in English and excellent written and presentation skills. As a strong communicator you are used to speaking publicly to a wide range of academic and non-academic audiences and you have a demonstrable passion and enthusiasm for environmental issues, which enables you to engage others. Credible and persuasive, able to represent Earthwatch externally
  • A proven track-record of successful fundraising through research grants, trusts and foundations and/or corporate partnerships, providing you with good understanding of the requirements of each of these fundraising channels
  • Strategic thinker and leader, able to inspire and convey information clearly and concisely and translate strategy into actionable plans which deliver against organisational objectives
  • Highly collaborative, working effectively with other disciplines, across the organisation and internationally in virtual teams. Excellent interpersonal skills, able to build effective relationships and manage partnerships
  • Flexible, self-motivated and goal-oriented with proven ability to manage competing requirements, prioritise, deliver appropriate quality on time and within budget
  • An established international network among relevant academics, NGOs, (inter-) governmental institutions and funders
  • Commitment to the mission and values of Earthwatch


  • Experience with effective policy influencing
  • Personal enthusiasm for citizen science with a good understanding of volunteer motivations and current developments in the field
  • A track-record of innovating, using and embedding new technologies and insights
  • Previous line management experience
  • Fluency in one or more other languages
  • Media experience and experience in writing popular science articles and blogs

The above list of job deliverables is not exclusive or exhaustive and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

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