Sonoma Ecology Center

Senior Scientist

Compensation: $30-35/hour, 75% – 100% full-time equivalent
FSLA: non-exempt
Reports to: Caitlin Cornwall, Research Program Manager


Who We Are

Sonoma Ecology Center’s mission is to work with our community to identify and lead actions that achieve and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley. Our main activities are Research, Education, and Restoration. Sonoma Valley, the Sonoma Creek watershed, is our home base, our lab. We strive to create models for other communities. We work outside Sonoma Valley to share successes, learn from others, and address processes and forces that affect Sonoma Valley. SEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1990.

Each year, we provide in-depth environmental science instruction to over 1200 students, manage over 4,000 acres of public and private land including Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, raise thousands of native plants and restore critical native habitat, and provide research and technical support on timely issues affecting the region. We have over 20 professional staff and manage numerous grants and contracts, often in partnerships with other nonprofits and agencies that significantly leverage our work and impact.


Research Program

SEC’s Research Program has four tasks. We focus on meeting needs that no one else is addressing.

  1. Produce and collect information that a) helps people appreciate and steward the lands and waters of Sonoma Creek watershed, and b) deepens collective knowledge about the Sonoma Creek watershed to inform watershed management.
  2. Monitor: track conditions and trends in Sonoma Valley’s ecological assets. Example: benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring, gaining/losing streams.
  3. Research: elucidate relationships among ecological elements, such as dynamics, dependencies, symbioses, or vulnerabilities. Example: limiting factors analysis for steelhead.
  4. Prioritize: identify and rank where particular actions should be taken, or not taken, to achieve desired outcomes. Example: priority locations for invasive weed management
  5. Communicate conditions, vulnerabilities, priorities, and opportunities to our staff, our community, decision-makers, and funders. Example: water scorecard.
  6. Steward data, knowledge, and work records related to SEC’s technical work and to Sonoma Valley.
  7. Engage policymakers and agencies to improve the policies and practices that affect land use, wildlife, and natural resources in Sonoma Valley.

The Senior Scientist will lead scientific research and monitoring at SEC (items 1-3 above), and help increase the budget of the Research Program.


Responsibilities Include, but are Not Limited to:

  1. Design and supervise multiple research and monitoring projects over time. Sequence projects so they build on each other toward meeting the Program’s roles above. Ensure the integrity of our data and our published conclusions. Track and delegate management of project budgets and deliverables.
  2. Obtain funding to maintain and expand the Program, assisted by Grants Manager.
  3. Take lead responsibility for stewarding, presenting, sharing, and analyzing 25 years of environmental data from Sonoma Creek watershed. Supervise the upgrade or replacement of the Sonoma Valley Knowledge Base.
  4. Report to long-time Research Program Manager Caitlin Cornwall. Work as a peer with long-time GIS Manager Alex Young. Hire and supervise up to 2 project specialists and/or technicians as funding allows.


Priority topics for the next two years:

  1. Monitoring program expert review and revision. Funded.
  2. Streamflow and surface water supply in relation to watershed health, salmonid recovery, and groundwater management.
  3. Water quality monitoring, in some combination of benthic macroinvertebrates, physical/chemical monitoring, suspended sediment, bed/bank erosion, temperature, and streamflow. Funded.
  4. Working with consultant and Restoration Program staff to plan long-range restoration activities on Sonoma Creek between Kenwood and Glen Ellen. Funded.
  5. Engaging a motivated, tech-savvy community in citizen science. Awaiting funding decision.
  6. Monitoring fisheries status and recovery. Awaiting funding decision.
  7. Tracking vegetation changes after fire, working with Parks agencies. Not funded.
  8. Ongoing report card on ecological health status, in comparison to target conditions, for the community and government stakeholders. Not funded.
  9. Develop and implement feasible measures of terrestrial vertebrate abundance and condition over time. Not funded.




Physical Demands and Work Environment

Work is performed in the field and in the office.  In the office, one will use a computer, phone, copier, and may sit for long periods of time. Fieldwork includes bending, stooping, kneeling, reaching, climbing, crawling, kneeling, wading or standing in water, and standing for long periods of time. The candidate must be able to safely lift and carry up to 60 lbs. One will be exposed to inclement weather, including rain, heat, exposure to the sun, high winds, and cold.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety precautions are often required.  Sonoma Ecology Center is a drug-free workplace and an EEOC employer. Evening and weekend work is sometimes required for public meetings, presentations, or fieldwork.

All qualified applicants will be given equal consideration without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, breastfeeding, veteran, military status, genetic information, and marital status or familial status.



After successful completion of a 90-day introductory period, full-time employees are offered:  a) eligibility to enroll in one of two Kaiser Permanente health insurance plans, of which Sonoma Ecology Center pays half of the employee’s monthly premium, b) paid (prorated) holidays, c) vacation accrual, and d) the ability to enroll in a self-funded TIAA 403(b) account. Sick accrual begins upon hire.


How to Apply

Please send your cover letter, resume, and three references, preferably in one document, to Caitlin Cornwall, Research Program Manager, at and to Celina Briggs, Human Resources Specialist, at Absolutely no phone calls, please. If you need assistance in the application process or during the interview process, please contact Celina. We will try to provide reasonable accommodations when considered appropriate.

For more information about Sonoma Ecology Center, visit