Physical Scientist (Program Director)

Alexandria, Virginia
Sep 27, 2020
Sep 30, 2020
Full Time


The National Science Foundation is seeking qualified candidate for a Physical Scientist (Program Director) position for the Geospace Facilities (GF) program in the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) within the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO), Alexandria, VA.

For more information on GEO please click here .

For more information on AGS please click here .

Learn more about this agency


AGS supports fundamental research into the physical, chemical, and biological processes that impact the composition and physical phenomena and behavior of matter between the sun and the surface of the Earth. This includes a wide variety of important processes that impact humans and society, such as weather, climate, air quality and space weather. Specific programs include studies of the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of earth's upper and lower atmosphere and its space environment, and research on climate processes and variations.

The Geospace Section (GS) funds research and facilities to add new understanding to how the geospace system responds to driving from the Sun. Specific research areas and activities supported by GS include:
  • Studies of physics and chemistry of mesosphere through the outer thermosphere and ionosphere,
  • Investigations of the plasma environment of magnetosphere,
  • Explorations of the Sun and how its energy output is transported to the Earth,
  • Examinations into origins and nature of space weather.

The Geospace Facilities Program promotes basic research on the structure and dynamics of the Earth's upper atmosphere through the support of several large incoherent-scatter radar facilities. The radars are located at widely distributed sites throughout North and South America, including Alaska, Northern Canada, Puerto Rico, and Peru. Each of the incoherent scatter facilities is also equipped with powerful optical and electromagnetic diagnostics instruments. Research efforts utilizing these facilities have strong links to the Geospace Section science programs: Aeronomy, Magnetospheric Physics, Solar-terrestrial Research, and Space Weather Research.


Working closely with colleagues in the Geospace Section, AGS, and throughout NSF, the incumbent will have primary responsibility for the programmatic oversight, award management and lifecycle planning of the AGS-funded geospace observing facilities. Specific duties will include:
  • Manage solicitations, programs and budgets for operating geospace observing facilities.
  • Conduct program reviews and other evaluations.
  • Work with NSF science program officers to ensure that the utilization of the geospace observing facilities is well-coordinated, technically feasible and equitable.
  • Working with colleagues, the scientific community and facility managers, lead the development of long-range plans for the AGS geospace observing facilities.
  • Serve on intra-agency, interagency and international committees involving geospace observing facilities.
  • Undertake other program officer responsibilities as needed. Develop solicitations and Dear Colleague Letters. Manage proposal review, ensuring a rigorous and fair process with appropriate participation by members of underrepresented groups.
  • Proactively support NSF's strategic goals in the area of broadening participation.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Background investigation.
  • Selective Service registration required for male applicants, unless exempt.

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. Foreign Talent Definitions

You will need to successfully complete a background security investigation before you can be appointed into this position.

All online applicants must provide a valid email address. If your email address is inaccurate or your mailbox is full or blocked, you may not receive important communication that could affect your consideration for this position.

This position is in the bargaining unit.

Please preview "Evaluations" section and "Qualifications" for additional requirements and Quality Ranking Factors.


Candidates must have a Ph.D. in a Physical Science, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

The successful applicant should demonstrate not only knowledge in atmospheric or geospace science but also a commitment to high scientific standards, considerable breadth of scientific interest and receptivity to new ideas. Also necessary are a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity and ethics, decisiveness, and an ability effectively to lead individuals and teams across a variety of institutional cultures within Federal and state government agencies, legislative bodies, and private sector organizations.

This position is outside the competitive civil service.

You must meet eligibility and qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


Additional information

Relocation expenses MAY be paid contingent upon the availability of funds

This announcement is open to (All US Citizens OR current NSF employees) who meet citizenship and eligibility requirements.

Federal Appropriations Law requires that Non-Citizens meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered.

This announcement may be used to fill like positions in other organizations within the National Science Foundation.

NSF has determined that all of its positions are eligible for telework. Work suitable for telework depends on job duties; therefore, employees must receive approval from their supervisor for telework and have a telework agreement in place. Entering into a telework agreement is voluntary.

The Selected Candidate(s) may be subject to a background investigation.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

You will be evaluated on the extent and quality of your experience, expertise, education, and research activities relevant to the duties of the position. In some cases, additional assessment processes may also be used.

We strongly encourage you to specifically address the Quality Ranking Factors below. This will ensure that you receive full consideration in the evaluation process.

Quality Ranking Factors
  • Knowledge and understanding of the mission and goals of the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as how NSF interacts with the scientific community.
  • Demonstrated ability to cooperate and work with peers in other scientific disciplines and to advocate program plans and policies to individuals in the Foundation, other government agencies, and academic institutions.
  • Ability to organize, implement and manage a proposal-driven grant program, allocating resources to meet a spectrum of goals, including ensuring integrity and consistency in the grant award/decline management process.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide intellectual leadership to achieve results that significantly enhance the strength and potential of the national geospace science research community.
  • Proven expertise in managing research-related projects and/or programs, including strategic planning, development of budgets and schedules, resource management, identification and mitigation of risk, and program evaluation.
  • Demonstrated research, analytical, and technical writing skills that evidence the ability to perform extensive inquiry into a wide range of significant issues related to research programs and facilities and make recommendations based on findings.

  • To preview questions please click here .

    Background checks and security clearance

    Security clearance

    Drug test required

    Position sensitivity and risk
    High Risk (HR)

    Trust determination process

    Required Documents

    All applicants must submit a resume in any format, and may also submit a cover letter.

    In order to be considered for federal appointments, Non-Citizens must affirm that they meet the Appropriations Law eligibility criteria 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. Non Citizens who are exempt from the Appropriations Law requirements due to their status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on December 16, 2009 must provide a statement with their application noting their exemption with documentation of proof of status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on that date.

    You are strongly encouraged to submit a current performance appraisal and/or letter(s) of recommendation and a supplemental statement that describes how your background relates to the Quality Ranking Factors (QRFs) listed in the Qualifications and Evaluation Requirements section of this announcement. This information will be used in the evaluation process.

    We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey . This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.

    You should upload your letter of recommendation(s) or the individual(s) can email the letter of recommendation(s) to ; please ask him/her to put your name and the job announcement number in the subject line.

    Transcripts are not required; however, please indicate the year that each degree was obtained on your application materials.

    All uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date.

    If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

    Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

    Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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