Senior/principal scientist, product development and innovation



Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2024


We’re looking for a principal/senior scientist in product development and innovation to help us create a more sustainable food system. You want to apply your scientific creativity to improve aged cheeses made from plants and develop new categories of fermented cheeses and other foods. You love getting your hands dirty in the kitchen and doing thoughtful science at the bench to really understand the discoveries that you make. Most importantly, you share our values. This position is based in Oakland, CA and offers competitive salary and equity.

About Plonts

Our food system represents a whopping 34% of global carbon emissions and is the primary driver of species extinction and deforestation. Within food, the biggest single problem is cows. Cows outweigh humans 🤯 and account for over 10% of carbon emissions. Dairy alone produces more carbon than all of aviation. But the problem is that cows and their milk taste really good, and no amount of guilt will ever stop us from devouring them. The only solution is to create sustainable products that are better than cows on two factors: taste and cost. Plonts is a public benefit corporation that discovers and designs microbial communities that transform inexpensive, sustainable plants into new categories of fermented foods. This approach allows us to create plant-based products that are absurdly delicious and cheaper than their animal-based counterparts. We are starting with the most resource-intensive and addictive dairy product: 🧀.

About The Position

You will be working with us to accelerate the discovery of cultured foods in our product innovation team. We find that we make the best products when we combine the power of scientific analysis with the creativity of human intuition. So when we approach product challenges, we take both bottom-up (building from fundamental principles in physics, chemistry, and biology to food products) and top-down (creating with science- and intuition-led product development and then working back to fundamental sciences) approaches. Our research team is a bunch of science nerds who love to develop products and product/food nerds who love to dive into science. This position falls in the latter camp. Some of your responsibilities will include:

  • Designing and executing science-inspired food experiments to test novel ingredients and processing in cheese made from plants
  • Working with suppliers, advisors, and partners to learn and generate new ideas for formulations and processes
  • Collaborating with internal and external partners to analyze food samples to understand mechanisms behind physical and chemical properties
  • Creatively tackling large, difficult food challenges that may not have a clear problem statement or solution space
  • Specifically working to improve cheese texture (melt, stretch) and flavor using scientific principles
  • Build a company where mission and money meet
  • This position is full time and not remote


  • A PhD in Food Science plus 8+ years of product experience OR an MS in food science and 10+ years of product experience
  • A track record of defining hard problems, designing and executing creative experiments, and delivering substantial product improvements and innovations
  • High curiosity in food and science, with an ability to quickly learn new topics
  • Belief in “clear is kind” communication, with a bias towards direct, open conversation
  • Conviction in our mission and values

What do you get out of it?

  • You’ll work on global sustainability problems via a hands-on, tasty product
  • You'll get to wear many hats and learn what it takes to build an early-stage startup in sustainability and biotechnology
  • An opportunity to have a systemic impact on the food system
  • A chance to build the kind of place where you’d like to work

If interested, what should you do?

We build relationships thoughtfully, and this approach takes time. Over multiple conversations, we will seek to understand how we can support you, and hopefully you will find out whether we are a good fit for your goals or simply a bunch of nutcases.

To apply, please email with a resume and responses to the following prompts (a conversational, unpolished tone is fine):

  1. What motivates you right now? When you think about your short life, what motivates you for the long term? And most importantly, why? Where did those motivations come from?
  2. What are the most important things that you are striving to improve in yourself? What are you doing to work on them? And how would that work either amplify a superpower or cure an achilles heel?

Plonts is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status or disability status. But we acknowledge that we are flawed humans within a flawed society. We do our best and apologize and learn when that’s not enough.

Oakland, CA