Position Summary:

The Staff Scientist is a key member of JRA’s Advocacy Program, and acts as the lead staff person collecting, interpreting and translating scientific information to support JRA’s policy agenda and broader advocacy work. JRA’s Advocacy team develops strategies to address threats to river health utilizing a range of advocacy, science and legal tools as needed. This position will report to the JRA’s Senior Advocacy Manager/Riverkeeper.

Essential Functions:

The Staff Scientist provides scientific analysis supporting JRA’s policy priorities and conservation goals. The Staff Scientist builds and facilitates relationships with partner organizations, coordinates scientific monitoring programs in the watershed, and synthesizes and interprets scientific data to further JRA’s programmatic work.  The Staff Scientist works collaboratively with the Advocacy team to advance initiatives that protect and restore the river through policy making, regulatory compliance, land stewardship and individual actions. Key duties include:

  • Lead JRA’s James River Watch program, to track water quality and share river conditions with the public. Guide the planning and implementation of JRA’s flagship water quality monitoring program across ~30 sites statewide.
  • Oversee the organization of JRA’s scientific datasets including but not limited to James River Watch and State of the James. Perform data analysis and assist with the production of reports.
  • Identify new or existing datasets to help track trends in water quality, climate change, fisheries, or other priority topics. Pursue opportunities to expand JRA’s scientific monitoring of river health through citizen science and strategic partnerships in the region.
  • Expand and diversify the constituency for healthy rivers by raising public awareness of river issues and providing training for citizen scientists/advocates.
  • Provide major support for JRA’s migratory fish passage and culvert assessment program, working with partners to prioritize regional fish passage projects and implement efforts to enhance aquatic connectivity.
  • Act as a voice for JRA working to convey scientific concepts and material to a variety of audiences including but not limited to public hearings, stakeholder advisory groups, media events, and other public speaking engagements.
  • Monitor regulatory activities with the potential to impact river health and draft comment letters on permits, policies, and regulations related to water quality or JRA’s advocacy priorities.
  • Support the Advocacy/Riverkeeper team with pollution response activities: investigating and helping to resolve reports of spills or other issues affecting the health of the river.
  • Educate a variety of audiences including the general public, students, landowners, business leaders and policy makers about the James River.

Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required, masters degree prefered, with 3 years experience in a science, fisheries and/or policy related field.
  • Must have strong initiative and be a self starter. Excellent at problem-solving, meeting deadlines and schedules, and overall time management.
  • Experience researching information from divergent sources and compiling it into a cohesive reporting structure.
  • Familiarity with water quality sampling protocols.
  • Knowledge of regulatory or other policy-related initiatives.
  • Ability to coordinate volunteer groups – including communicating with and working with diverse audiences.
  • Strong communications, analytical skills, teamwork, integrity, and reliability.
  • Physical requirements – lift and carry a min. of 25 lbs.
  • Ability to work occasional weekends and evenings.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license, safe driving record.


JRA offers a dynamic and flexible work environment. Pay will be commensurate with experience. This position is full-time, exempt. JRA is an equal opportunity employer.

To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter by email to admin@thejamesriver.org or by mail to:

James River Association
Attn: Jamie Brunkow
211 Rocketts Way, Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23231

Resumes will be reviewed as they are received.  The position will remain open until filled, but interviews will be scheduled with qualified candidates starting March 25, 2020. Otherwise, no calls or visits, please.