The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) offers a unique recruitment opportunity for an Assistant Project Scientist in Climate-Smart Agriculture with UC SAREP. UC ANR operates a statewide network of researchers, educators and support staff dedicated to the development and application of knowledge to address local agricultural, environmental and (community) health issues. Research, outreach and education from local Cooperative Extension offices serves all 58 counties from 70+ locations throughout the state. Our mission is to bring the University of California's research, extension and education programs directly to Californians to support:
Sustainable, safe, and nutritious food production and delivery
Economic success in a global economy
A sustainable, healthy, and productive environment
Science literacy and youth development
By working and living among those we serve, UC ANR expands the University of California's reach to engage all people and communities in California, ensuring equal access to the UC system.
The Project Scientist will support the mission of the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), which 'supports and conducts research and education on agriculture and food systems that are economically viable, conserve natural resources and biodiversity, and enhance the quality of life and equity in the state's communities.' The Project Scientist will work in research and outreach to advance understanding of soil health and adoption of climate-smart farming practices to enhance the climate-resilience and overall sustainability of California cropping systems.
Purpose and Clientele:
The Project Scientist will provide scientific leadership and capacity-building support for a nascent extension network involving multiple project partners across California, ranging from UC Cooperative Extension to Resource Conservation Districts and agricultural non-profits. The focus will be on farmer-to-farmer learning and best practices for monitoring and extension of soil health and other climate-smart farming practices in a diverse range of California annual and perennial cropping systems. The position will work with partners to develop on-farm soil monitoring protocols to establish a statewide baseline of soil health data for both extension and future research needs, assist partners in implementing soil monitoring protocols in the field when necessary, collect soil monitoring data from all partners and soils analysis labs, and compile and interpret soils analysis results. The position will assess partners' training needs and assist in identifying and organizing online and occasional in-person training opportunities. The position will also collaborate with partners to lead in writing extension-oriented materials on soil health and related farming practices, work with the PI to research future funding opportunities, develop a fundraising strategy and write grant proposals to continue the work of this statewide network beyond the period of this seed grant.
Major Duties and Responsibilities:
Soil Health Assessment (55%):
Review of literature and tools for soil health assessments, including indicators and their suitability for predicting soil functionality on the farm. Focus on California, Mediterranean-type climate conditions and cropping systems, including perennial tree and vine crops and annual field and horticultural crops. Select the most salient indicators for initial roll-out in this project.
Work with PI and hub managers to determine the best available on-farm soil monitoring sites, for a total of at least 40 sites statewide. Utilize accepted soil science standards to select sites that cover a range of California cropping and climate conditions and representative soil types, and 'control' sites in neighboring field or non-cropped land.
Utilize sound soil science principles to develop and teach a standardized soil sampling protocol and farmer-led soil assessment techniques to hub managers and producers, through written instruction, video, and in-person demonstration.
Work with PI and co-PIs to develop a data collection protocol for soil management practices, cropping systems, and climate at soil sampling sites, to be used as scientific baseline data as well as for extension purposes
Obtain results of sample analysis from soil analysis lab and compile and conduct statistical analysis to correlate farming practices with soil analysis results
Create explanatory notes and templates for reporting soil analysis results back to farmers
Collaborate with and assist SAREP survey research colleagues on design and implementation of producers and extension managers surveys and interviews for evaluation purposes and to assess farmers' perceptions of soil health
Work with collaborators to write reports and articles for journal articles and other types of publications on soil health indicators and participatory soil health assessment.
Statewide Network Coordination (15%):
Coordinate regular statewide network meetings (approx. every 6 weeks) and professional capacity building trainings - a) with PI, conduct informal needs assessment of network hub managers located around the state and set agendas based on expressed needs; b) organize virtual meeting logistics; c) facilitate meetings; d) work with PI to identify and arrange for guest speakers to join virtual meetings (and occasionally in-person) to provide trainings
Research new funding opportunities, including government and foundation grants, for ongoing work on soil health assessment and continued support and expansion of the extension network
With oversight from the PI and co-PIs, and other collaborators, write and submit grant proposals
Project Management (10%):
Work with PI to develop a project monitoring and evaluation plan, track project progress of all collaborating entities, and compile metrics to demonstration project milestones and achievements
Write project reports as required by funder
Assist PI and business manager in budget oversight and planning for expenses; follow through with administrative staff on submission of expense requests, such as speaker honoraria, travel reimbursements, purchase requests, external contracts, etc.
Visit hub organizations in person occasionally to assess progress on project, assist with in-person soil sampling training
Lead in organizing the final culminating project summit
Website Management and Outreach (5%):
Coordinate with Toby O'Geen's lab at UC Davis and other website contractors to provide project priorities and guidance on soils-related content for the network website, which will include soils mapping and associated user interfaces, and a soil metrics database to make baseline data available for producers and potential research users
Work with SAREP Communications Coordinator and other UC ANR staff to create postcards, videos, social media posts, and other outreach materials about the demonstration network and website resources
Give in-person and virtual presentations about soil health assessment and the extension and demonstration network approach at relevant agricultural sector, extension, and professional meetings
Reporting Relationship: The project scientist serves under the administrative guidance of the Academic Coordinator for Agriculture and Environment, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Qualifications and Skills Required Required Qualifications: Education: A minimum of a Ph.D. degree in Soil Science, Ecology/Agroecology, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Plant Sciences (agronomy, pomology, etc.) or a related field is required at the time of appointment.
In-depth understanding of soil science concepts and soil health indicators and variables
Excellent field knowledge and 2-3 years of experience in implementing soil sampling protocols, especially in an agricultural context
Knowledge of soil science literature and current debates within the discipline relating to carbon sequestration, climate change effects on soil, the role of farming practices in soil health, and related topics
In-depth knowledge of statistical methods in soil science
Commitment to advancing sustainability and climate resilience in California cropping systems
Commitment to collaborative, partnership-focused approaches to research and extension
Ability and means to travel on a flexible schedule as needed to drive to various locations around California, including to the North Coast Region and as far as Ventura County. Proof of liability and property damage insurance on vehicle used is required. Must possess valid California Driver's License to drive a County or University vehicle.
Skills in translating complex scientific concepts, especially relating to soils, to lay language for outreach to the broader agricultural community
Excellent verbal and written communication skills for conducting outreach
Meeting facilitation skills
Strong familiarity with California soils and range of typical perennial and annual cropping systems found across the state
Prior experience in extension, especially with community-based outreach, participatory research and extension, farmer-to-farmer learning, or related approaches
Patience, perseverance and tact in working with a range of different stakeholders and collaborators, with different priorities and values, and for navigating complex institutional relationships and politics
Skills Required: To be successful, a Project Scientist requires skills in the following:
Technical Competence and Impact
Interact with collaborating scientists to achieve project objectives.
Collect and analyze data for agency reporting and journal publications. Participate in extension education and outreach activities.
Demonstrated excellence in written, oral, interpersonal and information technology communication skills.
Skills to communicate and extend technical information to diverse audiences are required.
Participation in professional societies and conferences and ability to give presentations at seminars and continuing education functions.
Collaboration, Teamwork and Flexibility
Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively as a team member with others.
Able to adapt as circumstances warranted.
Promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
Demonstrated commitment to ongoing self-improvement - both professionally and as a person.
About UC ANR
The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) consists of a network of scientists and educators working in partnership across the California. We are committed to developing and supporting healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities, and healthy Californians. UC ANR administers UC Cooperative Extension UCCE), which is responsible for program development and delivery in the counties throughout the state of California.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce and will honor your experiences, perspectives and unique identity. We encourage applications from members of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ+ community members, and others who demonstrate the ability to help us create and maintain working and learning environments that are inclusive, equitable and welcoming.
The Assistant Project Scientist position is a definite term appointment. The position is a one-year renewable term appointment with a merit cycle every two years. The performance in the position will be evaluated annually. The position will be extended based on the continued need for the position, performance and availability of funding.
'Please note that successful applicants are responsible for ensuring work authorization without need of employer sponsorship for the duration of the appointment period.'
University of California Cooperative Extension
As a University employee, you will be required to comply with all applicable University policies and/or collective bargaining agreements, as may be amended from time to time. Federal, state, or local government directives may impose additional requirements.
The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.
As of January 1, 2014, ANR is a smoke- and tobacco-free environment in which smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products, and the use of unregulated nicotine products (e-cigarettes), is strictly prohibited
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About University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
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