The Research Director is responsible for facilitating and implementing research activities at the Regional Resource Center with input from departmental staff and project collaborators.

Key responsibilities of this position will include leading research/projects focused on the development, implementation and execution of research programs. Administrative duties will include project implementation activities, monitoring and evaluation responsibilities, and staff assignments, monitoring and supervision. Additional key responsibilities will include the publication of peer reviewed articles, relationship building and grant writing to secure working funds.

Essential duties & responsibilities:

  • Research
    • Plan and execute critical research projects related to the Rodale Institute’s mission.
    • Organize a research base with research focusing on soil health and/or the links between soil health and human health. This could include any or all of the following: side by side comparisons of organic and conventional production, cover crop systems experiments, nutrient quality analysis of grains/vegetables, milk quality analysis, weed management, compost and compost extracts, and the integration of livestock/grazing and cash crop systems.
    • Review scientific literature and publications of peers continually to keep abreast of current research, including current trends and questions.
    • Set up on-farm trials and demonstrations at Regional Resource Center to address relevant, current, cutting-edge research topics and questions that will benefit regional farmers, researchers, extension agents and the greater scientific community.
    • Evaluate trial protocols and indicators in terms of their potential to assess soil health or impact the transition of farms and farmers to organic.
    • Test high-quality, high-temperature organic compost blends made from various materials; manure, food and leaf-waste materials and vermicomposting
    • 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.
    • Build professional relationships that foster the expansion of our work.
    • Successfully write grants in partnership with Rodale Institute’s 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 CEO and Chief Scientist on programs and projects.
    • Ensure continuous performance improvement.
    • Adequately supervise Regional Resource Center research staff to ensure timely execution and completion of project goals, to include 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 in linking the farmer networks.
    • Ensure adequate resources and sufficient technical guidance to achieve project success in keeping with Rodale Institute goals and objectives.
    • Involve outside researchers and farmers as collaborators 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.
    • Report directly to Chief Scientist.


    • Assist in interpreting/disseminating information about our research project work to varied audiences including scientists, farmers, extension, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and the general public.
    • Present scientific results from research trials at organic/sustainable agriculture and compost 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 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 compost 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.
    • While working with the Development Director, submit at least 4 grant proposals per year to State, Federal, Foundational, or corporate funding sources
    • Plan, monitor, and oversee specific project budgets and grants expenses.
    • Formulate a budget that represents current projects and future objectives. Meet with the Finance Director and CEO quarterly to review status of programs and proposals.
    • Prepare weekly/quarterly/annual grant reports as required by funding partners.


  • Ph.D. in, soil science, systems ecology, biology, microbiology or other related field.
  • 2+ years’ experience in similar role which includes management experience.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong leadership skills.
  • Willingness and ability to travel.
  • Demonstrated success in receiving grant proposals for related programs and projects.
  • Excellent presentation and interpersonal communication skills, with all audiences.
  • Be honest, respectful and take ownership of our work and mission.

Additional information:

  • Position Type: Full time
  • Location: Rodale Institute Midwest Organic Center, Iowa
  • To apply: Please send a resume and cover letter to Director of Finance/HR Elaine Macbeth at
  • 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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