Founding Soil Scientist (Contract / Part-time)

  • Willow
  • Remote
  • Jan 04, 2022
Part time role Biology Chemistry Communications Engineering: Materials Marketing Product Manager Research Supply Chain Sustainability Consulting Advocacy & Policy

Job Description

Founded in 2020, Willow is the world’s first carbon negative lawn + garden brand. We’ve developed a line of better-for-plants and better-for-planet products that are designed from the ground up to reverse climate change. By taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and turning it into high-quality growing products, we’re uniquely positioned to scale a meaningful climate solution, all while giving consumers and businesses best-in-class soil products. We’re on a mission to capture one billion tons of CO2, and are just starting to build our team.


To achieve our mission, it won’t be enough to design the most sustainable soil products on the market; they have to work. As the Founding Scientist and second hire, you will be responsible for leading our product development strategy as we optimize for both efficacy and environmental footprint. No gardening brand has defined success on these terms before, so we are seeking a brilliant, driven, and passionate leader to spearhead our formulation, optimization, testing, and validation.

In addition to formulation and testing–the two core aspects of this role–we are looking for someone who is potentially excited to share their experiments and learnings with the world. As we scale, we have a powerful opportunity to build awareness and convene experts around the importance of soil health and carbon sequestration. We hope that this person will be excited to help drive this.

This is a part-time role at an early-stage, venture-backed climate startup. It will be highly dynamic and move quickly, will be designed to be remote and flexible around your schedule, and has the opportunity to grow into a full-time role as we evolve. 

Reports to: CEO


  • Formulation + Optimization
    • Define success: help select the metrics we want to optimize for (ie nutrient targets, yield improvements, water retention, customer reviews, etc.) 
    • Manage a continuous-improvement process for our formulations, optimizing for both product efficacy and environmental footprint
      1. First, optimize the formulation of our overly-simple flagship potting soil: biochar, OMRI compost, and mycorrhizal fungi
      2. Then, propose, test, and refine additional ingredients in an ongoing journey to perfect our “recipes”
    • Work closely with our Lifecycle Assessment consultant to determine and reduce the carbon footprint of our formulations
    • Expand our product line over time (ie citrus mix, cacti / succulent mix, etc.)
  • Testing + Validation
    • Conduct nutrient analyses and greenhouse / field tests, perhaps through a lab partner(s) you select, for label and product claims (ie yield, water retention, organic certifications, etc)
    • Build and present findings in multiple formats (label, website, white papers, social media, presentations, etc.) for both the general public and, perhaps, the scientific community
    • Long-term: pursue IP / patent work around our research and formulations
  • Bonus: Content + Learning
    • Share your work with the world: photos + videos of your experiments, written and visual explanations, seminars, etc. You would be backed by a team of marketing folks (designers, video editors, copywriters, etc.) but we’d be looking to you for content and storytelling. 
    • Act as a science spokesperson for the brand across multiple channels: website, blog, social media, packaging, events, etc.
    • Build a soil and plant science dream-team advisory board to support our endeavors across researchers, academics, industry experts, etc. This is a unique opportunity to convene the world’s experts around a shared mission. 


  • Deeply passionate about our mission to solve the climate crisis by turning CO2 into high-quality growing products
  • PHD, MS, or equivalent level experience in agronomy, soil science, agricultural sciences, environmental science, natural resources, or related field
  • Demonstrated ability to design and lead research programs to answer specific questions and/or solve problems
  • Broad awareness of consumer garden products and practices; hands-on experience is desirable.
  • Interest in developing partnerships with the scientific community, farmers and ranchers, non-profits, corporations, agricultural retailers and industry, and government agencies.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to do high quality, independent work in a dynamic organization


This is an opportunity to become an early member of a high-growth start-up, with a high focus on your personal career development and continuous learning opportunities. You’ll find a supportive culture of continuous growth and empathy.

We believe that optimism, having fun every day, and not taking ourselves too seriously will be powerful cultural tools to scale our impact, and we're looking for folks to help us build that culture.

We also offer:

  • Competitive pay
  • Flexible work scheduling
  • Equity grants and options for the right candidate


Organization Type


Organization Size



Carbon Removal & Utilization Engineering, Consumer Goods, Food & Agriculture, Pollution & Waste Reduction, Materials & Manufacturing