PhD Fellow Opportunity, Science Philanthropy Alliance

2017-12-18T09:34:39+00:00 December 18, 2017|

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Status: Full time, Exempt

Reports to: Executive Director

About the Alliance

Science Philanthropy Alliance is a group of funders that have come together to increase philanthropic support for basic scientific research to accelerate scientific discovery in the 21st century. We accomplish this by understanding the opportunities and complexities philanthropists face in the daunting quest to fund basic science. We provide advice and learning opportunities for individuals and foundations so they can help answer scientific questions, solve big problems, and further our knowledge about the natural world. We empower them to advance their own science interests and priorities. We do this by utilizing our deep connections in the worlds of science and philanthropy. By serving as impartial advisers to philanthropists, promoting collaboration among those who are interested in this vital stage of scientific discovery, and bringing together donors and top scientists, the Alliance aims to substantially increase philanthropic funding for fundamental research, and create a community of funders for discovery-driven scientific inquiry.

Key Areas of Responsibility

The fellow will have a unique opportunity to develop an understanding of the basic science philanthropy landscape, primarily through supporting the work of the president, executive director and advisor in managing the relationships with members, advisees, and other organizations and individuals. Reporting to the executive director, the fellow will work as a part of a team to ensure a high level of advising services to high-net-worth individuals and foundations. This may include analysis of best practices in science philanthropy and creating “how to” materials for new philanthropists. The fellow may also undertake research projects, some of which will be in partnership with Alliance member organizations. In addition, the fellow may assist in other Alliance projects, such as event planning of scientific workshops in support of advising efforts, or providing content for the Alliance website and social media about the importance of basic science and basic science philanthropy. Upon completion of the fellows program, the fellow will be knowledgeable about philanthropy, understand the basic science philanthropic landscape from the lens of multiple stakeholders, and be well prepared to transition to their next position in a role that serves to support effective funding for basic science research.


  • Deep curiosity about a wide variety of scientific fields, particularly climate science or ocean science
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, particularly in drafting and editing a variety of materials with scientific content (letters, white papers, summary documents), as well as preparing presentations with scientific content (PowerPoint)
  • Have a creative approach to problem solving and the ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities
  • Be proactive with a sense of urgency, a clear set of priorities, and a strong work ethic
  • Unimpeachable integrity and trustworthiness; a fine-tuned sense of discretion in the handling of confidential and sensitive matters
  • Ability to inspire enthusiasm about the Alliance mission
  • Ability to forge close working relationships with staff at Alliance member organizations and with Alliance advisees
  • A high level of energy, self- confidence, persuasive charm, self-motivation, and initiative in order to function at peak levels in a fast-paced, high-expectation environment
  • Able to maintain composure under pressure
  • Comfortable working in relational data bases (Salesforce) and Microsoft Office suite


Should possess at least three of the following:

  • Education: PhD
  • Experience as a climate scientist or ocean scientist
  • Experience with nonprofit or governmental organizations
  • Experience in research, communications and/or marketing within a research-related institution, foundation, or a non-profit organization dedicated to science
  • Experience in science communications for a lay audience
  • Experienced researcher and writer in a science field

Term of Employment, Compensation, and Start Date

The fellow will be appointed for one year, but a continuation for a second year is possible after a review. The salary will be commensurate upon experience. The start date is January 2018.


To apply for this position, please send your cover and resume to

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