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Senior Scientist Search 2021

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Thank you for your interest in our 2021 Senior Scientist search! 


The Position

  • Full job description and link to application process (link removed because the position has been filled)
  • Harvard University benefits information

The Harvard Forest welcomes full participation by individuals with disabilities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the search committee (see FAQ), or contact our administrative team at A webpage with complete accessibility information and building floormaps will be available later this summer!

The search committee hosted an informational webinar and Q&A on July 20. Here are the slides and the full audio transcript.

Harvard Forest Research & Education

The Harvard Forest Community

FAQ (drafted by the search committee)


  • Who is on the search committee?
  • What makes Harvard Forest a great place to be a researcher? 
    • [A mix of contributions by individuals on the search committee.] The opportunity to work with a great group of collaborators on cutting edge science.  The ability to complement a diverse array of scientific topics with a research program that you develop at Harvard Forest.  An increasing committment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and especially to recognizing the vital role of Indigenous researchers and land stewards past and present. We are associated with a network of networks.  As a research department with a 4000-acre land base, the Harvard Forest is connected to many departments and schools across Harvard University and other institutions.  This person will join a team of 6 senior scientists whose diverse research interests, collaborations, and contributions to student mentorship are foundational to achieving the Forest's mission and shaping its second century.
  • Are non-U.S. citizens eligible to apply?
    • Regretfully, Harvard is unable to provide work authorization and/or visa sponsorship for foreign nationals for this position.
  • I don't see a way to include all my individual application documents (cover letter, CV, research statement, diversity statement, contact info for 3 references) in the online app system. How should I handle this?
    • Please submit all your documents as one combined PDF.
  • Do I need to include reference letters in my application?
    • No; you only need to provide the contact information for your references when applying.
  • Has COVID-19 policy added any logistics or considerations to this position?
    • Harvard requires COVID vaccination for all Harvard community members who will have any on-campus presence.

Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons (learn more here).

  • Are senior scientists expected to be in the office 9-5 M-F, or is it possible to flex schedules and do partial remote work (e.g., working from home 1 day/wk)?
    • Harvard has a flexible work policy, and COVID closures have encouraged wider use of this option. Our senior scientists and many of our other staff have been remote for the past year and a half. All of these staff will be returning physically to campus this fall, many with a hybrid schedule of 2-3 days per week on campus, and 2-3 days per week working from home. 

  • What career stages will be eligible/competitive in applicants?
    • We encourage applications from all career stages, including recently graduated PhD students, although postdoctoral or similar experience is required.  The position and the expectations for it will be developed based on the successful applicant’s unique background. 
  • What disciplinary focus will be eligible/competitive in applicants?
    • We are not targeting any specific discipline.  We are open to a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to forest ecology, carbon cycle, tree physiology, hydrology, atmospheric chemistry, urban ecology, soil science, wildlife ecology, remote sensing, social science, etc. However, we are hoping to find a researcher who can utilize the land and research infrastructure at Harvard Forest while also complementing ongoing research programs at Harvard Forest and Harvard Forest’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) grant-funded program.
  • How much do you plan to weight the number of grants received by applicants?
    • We will be evaluating all metrics of scholarship, engagement and impact. We are looking for someone who will build a vibrant research program at Harvard Forest and contribute to our shared mission, vision and values. Grant activity will be considered in relation to career stage and disciplinary funding opportunities.
  • Should the research program be focused on forests? In New England?
    • Yes. Harvard Forest is distinct in that it has a departmental focus on the forests of New England. The researcher will be expected to integrate their work into that theme. That said, the researcher need not focus their research exclusively on the forests of New England.
  • Is this person supposed to replace the recently retired Senior Research Fellow, Aaron Ellison?
    • Not at all.  While Aaron serves as an example of what a HF Senior Scientist can achieve, this researcher, like all HF employees, will make their own unique contribution.
  • To whom will this position report?
    • The senior scientist will report to the Director.
  • What is the status of the Harvard Forest Director position?
    • Professor Noel Michele (Missy) Holbrook will continue in the role of Director until a new faculty Director is hired.
  • Is this position lining up to be the next director?
    • No, there is no strategic nexus between this position and the new director position. The next director of Harvard Forest will be hired through a senior faculty search process at Harvard, which will have different criteria than this position.
  • How does a researcher build a research group at Harvard Forest?
    • Each senior researcher has different needs and approaches to building their research group, but in general, HF scientists secure external funding (e.g., from NSF, USDA, NASA, Private Foundations, etc.) to support a team of one or more research assistants and/or post-doctoral fellows. In addition, HF scientists often host visiting researchers from other universities, funded either through the Bullard Fellowship program or other sources. And, there are opportunities to work with undergraduate students through the Summer Research Program and other internship programs.  
  • What mechanisms are there to have graduate students as a Senior Scientist?
    • Harvard Forest Senior Scientists can serve on Harvard University graduate student committees but may not serve as their major professor. Harvard Forest Senior Scientist frequently maintain adjunct appointments at other Universities (e.g., UMASS, BU, UNH), which often allows for advising students.
  • What mechanisms are there to have post-docs as a Senior Scientist?
    • HF researchers frequently employ and mentor a combination of post-docs and research assistants with external grants or start-up funding.
  • Does the position require any teaching?
    • This is a 100% research position.  However, the researcher will be expected to mentor undergraduates in the Summer Research Program and contribute to other educational activities (co-curricular programs) for students from Harvard and elsewhere.
  • What is the job security in this position, and how does it compare to a tenure-track faculty position?
    • This is a unique position with similarities and differences to both research staff positions and tenure-track faculty positions. The position includes PI rights and is funded by Harvard Forest, but scientists are expected to develop and maintain an externally funded research program. There are no teaching expectations for the position. The position is not a term position, as tenure-track positions are. The position is not a tenured position,  but it is a position with no end date.
  • Once hired, how will this position be evaluated?
    • The researcher will report to the Harvard Forest Director, who will work in consultation with the researcher to determine specific goals for research and grant productivity, service to HF and the broader community, education, and outreach. All staff at Harvard Forest have an annual performance review process.
  • What facilities are available to the researcher in this position?
    • The researcher will receive office space for them and their staff in Shaler Hall, the main office building on the Harvard Forest Campus. In addition, depending on their needs, the Researcher may also receive dedicated laboratory space and/or use of the extensive field research infrastructure. They will also be able to access the extensive Research Computing and library facilities of FAS at Harvard University. 
  • What will the start-up package include?
    • The scope of any start-up package will vary based on the needs of the scientist and will be negotiated with the Director.
  • How does compensation work?
    • The Senior Scientist will be a Grade 59. Salaries for new hires usually fall below the midpoint of the given range; salaries are determined based on prior experience and internal equity considerations. In addition, there is an opportunity to raise supplemental salary through grant funding. Senior Scientists can earn up to three months of additional compensation by placing up to three months of their salary on grants.
  • Can the person in this position be based on the main campus in Cambridge?
    • No. This is a Harvard Forest position. While we hope the Researcher will collaborate with their colleagues in Cambridge, the scientist will be based in Petersham, at Harvard Forest.