NOTE: This is a 6-month term-limited position.


Conservation X Labs' innovation team is hiring! We have a 6 month consultancy position available in Wash DC for an innovation & science program officer. This may evolve into a longer term position, depending on organizational needs and performance. This person will be responsible for helping Conservation X Labs (CXL) & the USDA Agricultural Research Service Innovation Division - ARS X - run an internal competition to source and reward novel, creative, transformative ideas. Duties include co-designing & implementing an open-innovation competition exclusively for ARS scientists around emerging agricultural pests and pathogens, such those evolving into new habitats and ecological roles with climate change. The innovation and science program officer will help design the application and evaluation materials; arrange and leading regular interactions/meetings with federal and non-federal scientists and technologists; work with a marketing coordinator and ARS leadership to write an effective strategy to recruit scientists to participate in the competition; help identify and manage a high-level review panel; and design and run a final event to incubate the best ideas that come out of the competition.


  1. Advanced degree in ecology & evolution, agricultural science, veterinary science, entomology, plant and animal pathology, or other relevant discipline with a demonstrated understanding of agricultural pests and pathogens and/or the biology of invasive species, plus at least 1-2 years of work experience in science policy or innovation science or practice that involves leading a collaborative scientific initiative or working on open innovation competitions such as prizes or challenges. Applicants with multidisciplinary backgrounds who want to work on big problems welcome.

  2. Experience coordinating actions within a US federal agency or in collaboration with US federal scientists.

  3. Working knowledge of open innovation and collaboration science to inspire new ideas and invention.


  1. Exceptional writing and communication skills in English, including the ability to mentor others in developing a compelling narrative around their scientific research.

  2. Excellent public speaking, moderation, and extemporaneous synthesis abilities around complex questions in ecology & evolution.

  3. Ability to translate ideas, work plans, and scientific and technical information into relatable, approachable and inspiring presentations and media.

  4. Ability to work independently and take the lead on tasks to see them through to completion, and recognize when to collaborate with others.

  5. Ability to prioritize and manage multiple deadlines, maintain a high degree of judgment, and work well under pressure, including reacting to rapid change with adaptation and grace.

  6. Well-organized and highly attentive to detail.

  7. Ability to conduct due diligence around ideas and innovations, and help shape ideas and innovation for further development.

  8. Ability to reframe problems and harness systems thinking.

  9. A desire to make the impossible possible in the face of environmental change.


  1. Lead the design and implementation of open innovation competitions based on a set of deliverables and design criteria set by the client, along with the best available science.

  2. Serve as an ambassador between CXL and ARS, including maintaining a clear line of communication and process for disseminating information between the entities. 

  3. Manage the competition process, including finalizing the call to action for applicants, recruiting applicants, designing the application, designing and overseeing the evaluation of applications, and all activities necessary to meet the deliverables of the project. These activities will include organizing and leading meetings with federal and non-federal scientists and technologists and maintaining regular communication with our collaborators at ARS.

  4. Oversee the creation and implementation of an effective marketing strategy focused on inspiring scientists to participate in an organization wide competition as detailed by ARS.  

  5. Using qualitative and quantitative data, design and implement metrics to measure the success of the project. 

  6. Assemble a diverse and high-level review panel to evaluate applications and manage the evaluation process

  7.  Design and manage a final event to incubate the top ideas that come out of the competition. This includes managing the logistics for the event (e.g. venue, catering, travel, run-of-show) and designing the agenda for the event. 


  1. Regularly brief CXL staff on the progress of the competition and delegate tasks as needed to ensure that the project stays on task.

  2. The contractor is expected to participate in CXL staff meetings and other topical discussions to integrate with CXL and maintain a thorough knowledge and understanding of general business, office and departmental procedures, including all CXL policies and procedures as they apply to this position.


This position reports directly to the Director of Open Innovation and interacts with all members of the CXL team, ARS leadership, ARS scientists, and CXL vendors and consultants.


Although this is a consultancy position, it will require daily engagement with CXL open innovation team members, including irregular travel, work, and meetings at the CXL office in Washington DC. The exact working hours and days are flexible and can be negotiated. This position will require some public speaking and presentation.


Send a cover letter and resume to daremightythings@conservationxlabs.org with “Science and Innovation Program Consultant Application” in the subject line.

CXL is committed to creating and cultivating a diverse workforce and inclusive environment where every employee and contractor has the right to work in surroundings that are free from all forms of unlawful or intentional discrimination.  It is our policy to hire, promote, transfer, terminate, and make all employment related decisions without regard to an employee’s gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical condition), gender expression, race, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, religious creed, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, genetic information, medical information, military condition, military or veteran status or any other basis prohibited by applicable local, state, or federal laws.   


This position description intends to describe the general nature and level of work required to adequately provide the services assigned to this position.  It is not intended to include all duties and responsibilities.