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Public Lab Research note


Job Posting: Research Coordinator

by thewrightjess | January 30, 2020 18:53 30 Jan 18:53 | #22440 | #22440

Start Date: Late March 2020

Location: Remote within the United States with the opportunity to work from our offices in New Orleans, LA or Brooklyn, NY

Terms: Full time

About Public Lab

Public Lab is a community, supported by a non-profit, that develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.

About This Role

Join our team and work to bring about a healthier and more equitable world through community science, open technology, and the pursuit of environmental justice.

This position is ideal for an early- to mid-career science communicator or hardware enthusiast who wants to be embedded in a diverse research community. It's a role for someone deeply curious and empirical who enjoys synthesizing, testing, and growing a body of practical knowledge with people who are striving to address complex problems together.

The Research Coordinator is part of Public Lab's Organizing & Research team, which ensures that people who come to Public Lab in pursuit of environmental justice are able to connect with others online and/or in-person to achieve locally meaningful outcomes. The Research Coordinator will build working relationships with scientists and technologists developing accessible environmental research methods, and community members who use them to monitor the environment, ensuring information is clearly presented on the Public Lab website. The Research Coordinator works to maintain environmental health topic pages on the website that succinctly present the current state of methodologies for monitoring or remediating the issue, and feature accessible pathways for newcomers to get started. Example practices include synthesizing materials into an at-a-glance view of the topic, highlighting activities new contributors can try for themselves, breaking out questions that could be answerable by someone with particular expertise or experience, and framing "next step" challenges to attract a contributor with specific skills sets.

This position will assist the Community Manager in managing fellowship teams working on specific research areas, coordinating their efforts, and editing their outputs to support further growth in the broader contributor community. This position will work with the Education and Kits teams to source and distribute hardware needed by frontline communities. This position works closely with Public Lab directors to meet strategic objectives for advancing the readiness of community science approaches to key environmental health issues.

This position reports to the Community Manager. This job requires occasional travel and work outside regular business hours.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Maintain coherence in a priority set of environmental research topics on the Public Lab website
  • Organize a regular practice of reviewing these environmental research topics by:
    • Collating and synthesizing materials shared by people working deeply on environmental topics to make them accessible for those who are exploring these issues as newcomers
    • Understanding, breaking down, prioritizing, and communicating steps to approaching environmental monitoring challenges on the website and through on/offline events, in a way that helps people see where they may make a contribution
    • Explaining what is currently within reach for key environmental health issues, at what cost of time and energy to get what quality of data, and usable for which purposes
    • Inviting people to contribute feedback, failures, requests, and ideas about environmental topic areas, with support from other program staff
    • Building relationships with people doing this work, and conducting interviews to tell their stories (with support from the Communications Manager)
    • Supporting fellows in their work, specifically around developing resources on environmental monitoring methods and hardware projects so that fellowship outputs clearly advance priority environmental research topics.
    • Convening monthly public work sessions and quarterly public presentations on environmental topics. These presentations may, for example, take the form of a "State of the Issue," explaining the methods used and their relationship to environmental governance, highlighting emerging directions in science hardware development for improving accountability and management
    • Consistently engaging the Public Lab community and other communities on questions and resources for environmental monitoring methods
    • Identifying environmental monitoring tools that address community priorities and fit the criteria for low-cost, accessible kits that can be hosted in the Public Lab store; working with the Kits Coordinator on sourcing components and drafting the item listings
    • Providing simple inroads, an onboarding ladder, and welcoming scaffold for people with different experiences and expertise to engage with and update topics on the Public Lab website
  • Contribute to the emergence of an equitable technology culture
  • Assist in moderation across the Public Lab website
  • Support the sustainability of community projects through grant writing and other fundraising initiatives
  • Maintain and adhere to nonprofit policies and procedures, Public Lab values, and the Code of Conduct.

Experience and Training:

Approximately 5 years of demonstrated job experience in a related field (science communication, investigative journalism, collaborative hardware, library science, ethnography, popular and technical writing, community organizing, advocacy) is required.

This position might be for you if you are:

  • Driven to uncover new knowledge frontiers with a journalistic curiosity.
  • An inveterate connector who loves to form bonds and deepen relationships throughout a network.
  • Excited about shaping a newly created role within a fast-moving team and are a natural leader who prioritizes learning and iteration over perfectionism.
  • Thinking strategically about what is needed for information to be useful, relevant, and accessible.
  • Passionate about explaining, such that others become motivated to act upon what they learn from you, as well as listening so that others feel valued by you.
  • An exceptional written and oral communicator: You're a collaborator and a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and attention to detail. You can translate complex work and the mission of Public Lab to diverse audiences.
  • Team-oriented: You work collaboratively, both in person and with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
  • Organized, thorough, and self-sufficient: You communicate consistently with your team, stay on top of your to-do list, and you don't miss deadlines.
  • An excellent problem solver: You're excited to take on diverse development challenges, identify where organizational operations may be improved, and propose solutions.
  • Tech-savvy: You are excited by technology and learning new programs with support from colleagues. You have experience using a variety of collaborative software such as Github, Slack, Google Docs, Dropbox, and CRM databases.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation is between $40,000-$45,000, based on experience and qualifications. Public Lab offers a benefits package that includes:

  • Three weeks starting vacation time, with a bonus week off during the winter holidays
  • 11 personal days
  • 12 federal holidays observed
  • 75% coverage of health/dental/vision benefits
  • 401(k) account
  • A six-week sabbatical after five years of employment.

To Apply

Please send a single document containing a cover letter and resume to jobs@publiclab.org with the subject line Research Coordinator by March 1, 2020. No phone calls, please.


Public Lab is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions, and identities to apply.


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