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DRL 19-005

Dear Colleague Letter: Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Employment Opportunity for Program Director Positions (Open Until Filled)

September 26, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

The Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) announces a nationwide search for temporary Program Directors at the National Science Foundation. Applications will be reviewed beginning October 15, 2019.  

DRL is seeking a program officer with expertise in research or development of media in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) education. This includes but is not limited to expertise in one or more of the following areas: education media (broadcast TV/film/radio/web-based); transmedia production; interactive media; and assessment of STEM learning via media products.

DRL supports innovative research, development, and evaluation of learning and teaching across all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in both formal and informal learning settings, and in any age group. A major goal of DRL research and development awards is to enhance the science of broadening participation in STEM. DRL programs support innovations in theory, methods, measurement, development, and applications in STEM education.

Duties and Responsibilities

Successful candidates will be expected to work collaboratively with staff and other program officers primarily in the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program but may work in other DRL programs as appropriate. They will also be expected to work closely with staff across divisions and directorates on cross-cutting programs of importance to the mission of the Agency.

NSF Program Directors have an unparalleled opportunity and responsibility to ensure NSF-funded research and development activities are at the forefront of advancing fundamental knowledge. In support of that, Program Directors are responsible for extensive interaction with academic research communities, formal and informal educational organizations, industry, as well as interaction with other Federal agencies that may lead to development of interagency collaborations. Within this context, Program Directors solicit, receive and review research and education proposals, make funding recommendations, administer awards and undertake interaction with research communities in these fields. The position requires a commitment to the highest research standards and ethical conduct, a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.


Candidates must have a Ph.D. in a STEM or media related field, plus after award of the degree, six or more years of successful media development, production, research/evaluation administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position; OR a Master's Degree in an appropriate field, plus after award of the degree, eight or more years of successful   development, production, research/evaluation administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

A successful candidate will have experience in research, production, or distribution of a range of education media and will be knowledgeable about trends and emerging media technologies.  The ability to mentor or support researchers and developers in the area and to evaluate proposals and work products is essential.  Ideal candidates will have expertise in a STEM discipline or STEM learning. Expertise in quantitative and/or qualitative research methodologies is highly desired

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

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment: 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. For additional information regarding IPA positions, please visit the NSF website at:

Visiting Scientist, Engineer or Educator (VSEE) Appointment: A VSEE appointment 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 as Federal employees. 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 one year and may be extended for an additional year by mutual agreement. For additional information regarding VSEE positions, please visit the NSF website at:
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 status 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: and

It is NSF policy that NSF personnel employed at or IPAs detailed to NSF are not permitted to participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.  Failure to comply with this NSF policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from Federal Service or termination of an IPA assignment and referral to the Office of Inspector General.

Applications will be accepted from U.S. citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require non-citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, non-citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. This also applies to individuals considered for Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignments to NSF. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit a current curriculum vitae and a statement of interest to with “Program Director Position and this DCL number in the subject line of the email.

Along with your application, please provide responses to the following:

Quality Ranking Factors

  1. Knowledge of and contributions to STEM learning via one of the areas listed above.
  2. Evidence of collaborative work with evaluators, researchers, and designers of learning media products.
  3. Research, analytical, and/or technical writing expertise as evidence by publications, presentations or other documents.
  4. Ability to interact, on a peer basis, with practitioners, administrators, senior scientific and managerial personnel in governmental agencies, academia, non-profits, and the private sector.