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EAR 10-002

Dear Colleague Letter: Division of Earth Sciences, for Associate / Program Director, Deep Earth Processes Section, Multiple Programs

Date: June 24, 2010

The Division of Earth Sciences (EAR), Deep Earth Processes Section announces a nationwide search to fill Associate/Program Director positions using the NSF’s rotational programs, for the Section which includes the following programs:

Tectonics, Petrology and Geochemistry, Geophysics, Continental Dynamics, Instrumentation and Facilities, and EarthScope.

At the National Science Foundation (NSF), Associate Program Directors and Program Directors help administer specific research areas. They are NSF program managers who help solicit, receive, and review research and education proposals, make funding recommendations, and administer awards. They are also responsible for interaction with other Federal Agencies forming and guiding interagency collaborations and for service to Foundation-wide activities.

NSF program managers bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the Foundation’s overall mission to support innovative and merit-evaluated activities in fundamental research and education that contribute to the nation’s technological strength, security and welfare. As an Associate/Program Director, you will play an instrumental role in NSF’s mission to support innovative and merit-reviewed activities in basic research and education. To fulfill these responsibilities in the Deep Earth Processes Section, requires knowledge in one or more of the areas of tectonics, geochemistry, or geophysics, and a commitment to high standards; receptivity to a breadth of new ideas; and good judgment. In this process, you will get unique opportunities to influence, and even help lead, your scientific field.

In terms of your own development, you will:

  • Attend talks and distinguished lectures given by luminaries from all fields of inquiry from across the globe.
  • Increase your breadth of knowledge by reading and reviewing proposals that are not always situated squarely in your research area.
  • Gain intense learning experiences through serving with merit review panels where smart people engage in dialogue over topics that matter.

Formal consideration of interested applicants will begin August 1, 2010 and will continue until selections are made.  Persons wishing to apply for the positions are referred to the contact listed below.

Qualifications of a successful candidate include a PhD degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, an established record of research and education in a field appropriate to the position, and managerial experience in academe, industry or government, plus at least four years (Associate Program Director) / six years (Program Director) of successful research and research administration. The position requires effective oral and written communication skills; familiarity with NSF EAR programs and activities is highly desirable. The incumbent is expected to function effectively, both as an individual within the specific NSF Program, and as a member of crosscutting and interactive team in the Deep Earth Processes Section, the Division of Earth Sciences and more broadly with other parts of the NSF. The incumbent must also demonstrate a capability to work across government agencies to promote NSF activities and to leverage program funds through interagency collaborations.

As an Associate/Program Director you will likely:

  • Assist in implementing the proposal review and evaluation process for the program, including regular unsolicited proposals and special focus solicitations (some cross-NSF, interagency, or with international cooperation).
  • Conduct scientific/technical analyses of proposals received in the program.
  • Contribute, consistent with NSF directives, to the establishment or modification of the system of selection of ad hoc reviewers to meet NSF objectives and program needs.
  • Select individuals to provide objective reviews of proposals either as experts or as members of a panel.
  • Conduct programmatic reviews, determines funds availability, and evaluates similar or related projects, including internal and external liaison.
  • Negotiate technical and financial revisions of proposals as required.
  • Conduct final review of proposals and evaluations and recommends awards or declinations based on knowledge or resources availability and program goals and peer reviewer comments.
  • Evaluate projects and activities that are proposed or funded by conducting site visits and reviewing interim and final reports.
  • Negotiate interagency agreements with other Federal agencies for transfer of funds to assist in the support of research and education.   
  • Assist within the Program, across the Division, with other agencies, international partners, and the science community, in the development of science initiatives and opportunities. 
  • Assist in the improvement and development of internal management systems for use in Program responsibilities. 

Associate/Program Director positions recruited under this announcement may be filled with one of the following appointment options:

Intergovernmental Personnel Assignment (IPA) Act:  Individuals eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of State and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved.  Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two-year period.  The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated funding toward the assignee’s salary and benefits.  Initial IPA assignments are made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement.

Visiting Scientist Appointment:  Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act.  Visiting Scientists are on non-paid leave status from their home institution and placed on the NSF payroll.  NSF withholds Social Security taxes and pays the home institution’s contributions to maintain retirement and fringe benefits (i.e., health benefits and life insurance), either directly to the home institution or to the carrier.  Appointments are usually made for a one-year period and may be extended for an additional year by mutual agreement.

Temporary Excepted Service Appointment:  Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act.  Candidates who do not have civil service or reinstatement eligibility will not obtain civil service status if selected.  Candidates currently in the competitive service will be required to waive competitive civil service rights if selected.  Usual civil service benefits (retirement, health benefits, and life insurance) are applicable for appointments of more than one year.  Temporary appointments may not exceed three years.

For additional information on NSF’s rotational programs, please see “Programs for Scientists, Engineers, and Educators” on the NSF website at:

Individuals interested in applying for these positions should send a current CV and statement of interest to:

Dr. James H. Whitcomb
Section Head,
Division of Earth Science, Suite 785S
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230
Fax: (703) 292-9025