Defend Our Health seeks Senior Director of Research

Thursday, March 14, 2024

About the employer

Join the fight for public health and environmental justice! Everyone has a right to safe food and drinking water, healthy homes, and products that are toxic-free and climate-friendly. Defend Our Health (Defend) works nationally and at the state level to address environmental and public health problems, progressing equity and justice. We effectively advocate for evidence-based upstream policy and business solutions to reduce or eliminate exposures to toxic chemicals in water, food, and products. We believe that individual action is essential for driving change but it cannot fully solve the systemic environmental health crises we face.

About the position

The Senior Director of Research will lead Defend’s science strategy by conducting and guiding action-oriented research, data, and analysis for the organization. They are responsible for ensuring the scientific integrity and authoritative basis for Defend’s advocacy campaigns, organizing projects, and policy and practice recommendations. This position will develop and manage study designs, data collection, and analysis of results, as well as monitor emerging literature and science, and advise on the translation of evidence into action for a variety of audiences.

Who we’re looking for

We’re looking for a seasoned leader with a high-level of scientific training and experience in applying science in the public interest. The successful candidate will be an effective science translator, data analyst, and persuasive advocate for evidence-based practice improvement, and have a demonstrated commitment to environmental and social justice.

Reporting to

The Senior Director of Research reports directly to the President and CEO.

Major responsibilities

  • Conduct and Lead Action-Oriented Research
  • Conduct and Lead Data Analysis
  • Interpret and Translate Science
  • Team Management and Development
  • Grant Proposal Support
  • Program Management and Leadership

Specific duties

Conduct and Lead Action-Oriented Research

Conduct applied research and data analysis to understand and develop solutions to address plastic pollution and to phase out PFAS and other harmful chemicals. Oversee all analytic testing projects, ensuring proper study design, methodology, sample collection, and analysis and interpretation of relevant data.

Conduct and Lead Data Analysis

Oversee and guide effective data collection, analysis, and visualization methodologies in support of program objectives and Defend’s mission.

Interpret and Translate Science

Maintain awareness of the best available science and break down program-relevant scientific findings and data for communication with non-technical audiences, including policy makers and the media, in support of our strategic framing and messaging. Use both technical and persuasive writing to share complex information effectively with diverse audiences.

Team Management and Development

Pursue ongoing professional development for themself and direct reports (research coordinator, research analyst, research interns, and community scientists). Select, train, and evaluate the performance of Research division staff. Grow and staff our science advisory council.

Grant Proposal Support

Grow the Research department and Defend’s core activities through the development of persuasive grant proposals in collaboration with our pre-award team.

Program Management and Leadership

Be a leader within the organization, engage in strategic planning, and conduct longer term research and data analysis projects that anticipate and advance organizational goals and strategic objectives. Lead a research division that leads to positive change, developing and managing associated budgets, goals, and objectives.

Minimum qualifications

  • A PhD degree (or a demonstrated equivalent level of expertise) in a relevant field such as environmental science, biochemistry, biostatistics, environmental or bioresource engineering, toxicology, or epidemiology
  • At least 7 years of directly relevant professional experience
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct quantitative analysis of complex datasets
  • Experience with statistical analysis and data visualization software (such as R, SAS, Stata, SPSS, ArcView, GIS, or other analytical software packages)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, with demonstrated experience translating technical information into clear, persuasive formats to effectively reach diverse audiences
  • Prior program management experience, including program planning, grant writing, budget development, program evaluation, reporting, and managing work plans
  • Prior supervisory experience strongly preferred

Desirable qualifications

  • Expertise in environmental health science, green chemistry and engineering, or chemical industry market analysis
  • Multicultural competencies and non-English language skills, especially Spanish

Compensation and benefits

This is a full-time, salaried, exempt position with a salary range of $95,000 to $110,000, commensurate with experience and qualifications.

Defend Our Health offers a strong benefits package which includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, group life and disability, retirement match, family leave, and significant paid time off.


Work remotely with occasional travel to, or from, our headquarters in Portland, Maine.

How to apply

Go to, click on this position title, upload a cover letter, resumé, and scientific writing sample.

This position will remain open until filled.

Defend Our Health is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, protected veteran status, disability, age, or national origin.

For more information, visit us at

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