Email Print Share
SBE 13-001

Dear Colleague Letter - Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Employment Opportunity

DATE: October 17, 2012

The Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) announces a nationwide search for a Program Director in Environmental Behavioral and Social Science. Formal consideration of applications will begin Nov. 9 and will continue until a selection is made.

We are interested in an expert with broad expertise and experience in environmental behavioral and social science, to start as early as possible in 2013 and by September at the latest. Candidates from all specializations within the behavioral and social sciences will be considered, but to be eligible, candidates must have a Ph.D. or equivalent professional experience in the relevant discipline, plus six or more years of successful research, research administration and/or substantial managerial experience in academe, industry, or government.

NSF and SBE actively support interdisciplinary scientific activities in the area of the environment, primarily through special programs and competitions such as the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) and Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES). Primary responsibilities for this Program Director will be to participate in, coordinate, and, when appropriate, take primary responsibility for environmental behavioral and social science activities. S/he will assist the efforts of other SBE Program Directors in advancing basic, fundamental behavioral and social science research as well as its integration with research from other fields to address issues related to the preservation and enhancement of environmental quality and the sustainability of natural systems, economic activity, and social well-being. The Program Director also will assist in the management of a standing program within the BCS division on a limited basis and as appropriate for his/her expertise. The Program Director would report to the BCS Division Director.

Specific responsibilities for this position may include the following:

  • Participate in cross-cutting activities related to sustainability and other environmental activities within the Foundation and potentially across the federal government;
  • Work cooperatively across the Division, Directorate, and Foundation, and with other agencies to accomplish the mission of NSF;
  • Participate in interagency meetings, coordinating groups, special task groups, staff meetings, and site visits;
  • Allocate program and/or competition resources to maintain a balance of support to meet the field’s needs;
  • Take action on all proposals in a timely manner;
  • Maintain an effective merit review system and post-award action process;
  • Assess trends and opportunities in the field with assistance of advisory panels and other relevant NSF, interagency, and community-based groups;
  • Pursue EEO goals with regard to diversity and inclusion in selection of reviewers, panelists, and grantees;
  • Represent relevant programs and competitions to the scientific community and the public;
  • Establish contacts and maintain active involvement in the program field through participation in meetings and conferences and by undertaking other relevant activities;
  • Pursue a personal scholarly research agenda, with results presented at professional meetings and published in academic journals, as workload permits;

Applicants must be familiar with a broad spectrum of the behavioral and social sciences research community, as well as with the issues being addressed in the field of environmental science. The position requires effective oral and written communication skills, and familiarity with NSF programs and activities is desirable. The incumbent is expected to work effectively both individually within specific NSF programs and as a member of crosscutting and interdisciplinary teams. The incumbent must also demonstrate a capability to work across government agencies to promote NSF activities and to leverage program funds through interagency collaborations.

The position may be filled with one of the following appointment alternatives:

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 IPA assignments are generally made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement for up to an additional three-year period. The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated funding toward the assignee's salary and benefits.

Visiting Scientist Appointment: Visiting Scientist Appointments are 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: Temporary Excepted Service Appointments are 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 visit:

Applications will be accepted from US Citizens. Due to a recent change in Federal Appropriations Law, only Non-Citizens who are permanent US residents and actively seeking citizenship can be considered for Federal appointments (i.e., Visiting Scientists, Engineers and Educators (VSEE) program, Temporary Excepted Service). Therefore, you are required to provide documentation that confirms you are actively seeking citizenship at the time you submit your application. Non-citizens who do not provide documentation will be considered only for the IPA program.

How to Apply: Applicants should indicate within their cover letter and subject line of the email that they are applying for the position of Program Director in Environmental Behavioral and Social Sciences. Please submit a cover letter and curriculum vitae to Dr. Amber Story at