The Rodale Institute currently maintains an apple orchard on their main campus and nearby Schantz Fruit Farm and is seeking to expand research on perennial fruit systems. With input from institute staff and project collaborators the Perennial Systems Scientist is responsible for developing, implementing, and leading Rodale Institute’s research activities in relation to production of small fruit, tree fruit, nuts and other forms of perennial orchard management using regenerative organic methods. The incumbent will also support the researchers at Regional Resource Centers with research activities in relation to orchard management as needed.

Key responsibilities of this position include designing, implementing, and leading impactful and innovative research projects focused on advancing organic and regenerative organic orchard management in the northeast region with emphasis on productivity, profitability, environmental protection, soil health, and food quality. Administrative duties will include project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, budget development and management, and staff monitoring and supervision. Additional key responsibilities will include external grant acquisition from private and public sources, preparing and submit peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications, supporting Rodale Institute’s outreach, education and consulting programs, and building relationship with external entities and stakeholders.

This position reports directly to the Chief Scientist of Rodale Institute, Main Campus

Essential duties & responsibilities:


  • Plan and execute critical research projects related to Rodale Institute’s Mission.
  • Develop and implement a research program focusing on orchard production and management using regenerative organic methods, with a focus on improving soil, human and planetary health.
  • Set up on-farm trials to address relevant, current, cutting-edge research topics and questions that will benefit regional farmers, researchers, extension agents and the greater scientific community.
  • Build professional relationships to advise, define, and foster the expansion of research priorities in the Northeast US.
  • Review scientific literature and publications of peers continually to keep current on research.
  • Evaluate trial protocols and indicators in terms of their potential to facilitate the transition of farms and farmers to organic.
  • Collect, process and analyze data in a professional manner. Interpret and report results.
  • Ensure that our commitments to partnerships are completed according to our contracts and agreements.
  • Successfully write grants in partnership with Rodale Institutes grant office
  • Communicate regularly with departmental staff at Rodale Institute’s home office.

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Lead project team to achieve research/project goals.
  • Prepare and present periodic updates and status reports to Rodale Institute’s leadership team.
  • Ensure continuous performance improvement.
  • Supervise program personnel to ensure timely execution and completion of project goals, including exemplary research planning, execution of experiments, reporting, and assessment and publication of project results.
  • Work with related department staff members in program monitoring/development, creation of publications, and education and outreach activities, and linking the farmer networks.
  • Ensure adequate resources and sufficient technical guidance to achieve project success in keeping with Rodale Institute goals and objectives.
  • Facilitate outside collaboration when possible in all aspects of the research.
  • Participate in the hiring and training of project personnel.
  • Foster a professional, creative, and enjoyable working environment that is sensible and enhances the synergies of the multicultural and diverse staff of the Institute.
  • Establish and maintain excellent working relationships with representatives from diverse organizations.


  • Assist in interpreting/disseminating information about our research project work to varied audiences including scientists, farmers, extension, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and the general public.
  • Present scientific results from research trials at organic/sustainable agriculture industry conferences, workshops and trade shows.
  • Provide informational tours about our research programs to interested visitors as requested.
  • Prepare and give invited oral presentations to the scientific community, governmental decision-makers, private environmental groups and farmers on soil health management and assessment and other research topics as requested.
  • Develop and assist with the publication of research papers, invited book chapters and interpretive publications to promote the Institute’s Mission.
  • Provide farmers, extension agents and producers with guidelines in print, web, video, webinar and field day/conference formats.
  • Maintain currency with scientific publications on soil health, regenerative and organic agriculture.
  • Ensure that Rodale Institute research publications are commonly cited by scientists and researchers.
  • Make our research accessible to farmers and the general public.

Grant Proposals/Reporting

  • Research, develop and write grant proposals to support projects and to obtain funds for existing and future projects within the existing framework of the department’s mandate.
  • Submit at least 4 grant proposals per year to State, Federal, Foundational, or corporate funding sources
  • Plan, monitor, and oversee project budgets and grants expenses.
  • Prepare grant reports as required by funding partners


  • Ph.D. in horticultural science (viticulture, pomology, ornamental horticulture, hardwood, and softwood trees production) with research experience in one of the following fields: new plant development and breeding, plant environment interactions, IPM, plant pathology, entomology, plant physiology, fruit quality, plant growth and development, agroforestry, and soil management and fertility.
  • Demonstrated success in developing research programs.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated success in receiving grant proposals for related programs and projects.
  • Excellent presentation and interpersonal communication skills, with all audiences


  • This position will require periodic travel.

Additional information:

  • Other Expectations: Be honest, respectful and take ownership of our work and mission.
  • To apply: Please send cover letter and resume to Director of Finance/HR, Elaine Macbeth,
  • About Rodale Institute: Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For seventy years, the Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet.

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