The Integrative Activities Section (IA) within the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) under the Office of the Director, announces a nationwide search to fill Program Director positions for infrastructure and convergence research programs. OIA works across disciplinary boundaries to lead and coordinate strategic programs and opportunities that: advance research excellence and innovation; develop human and infrastructure capacity critical to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise; and promote engagement of scientists and engineers at all career stages.
Formal consideration of interested applications will continue until these positions are filled.
IA supports major programs that invest in strategic activities that span the disciplinary spectrum, incubates new activities in this space, and explores emerging ideas. IA provides a flexible mechanism to support emerging program priorities. Sustained strategic investments include instrumentation, infrastructure and cross-cutting collaborative research.
In the Infrastructure/Instrumentation space, programs include: Mid-scale Research Infrastructure, which advances the nation’s capabilities for potentially transformative research and maintaining U.S. leadership in global S&E; and Major Research Instrumentation, which funds instrument development and acquisition in all of NSF’s research domains and enables primarily undergraduate institutions to advance undergraduate research.
Cross-cutting, Collaborative Research programs include: Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships, which invests in innovative, potentially transformative, complex research and education agendas that require large-scale, long-term awards and partnerships across academia, industry, national labs, and government and that train future scientists and engineers; and Growing Convergence Research (GCR), an opportunity for novel, interdisciplinary research that doesn’t yet have a natural home among disciplinary programs and targeted solicitations. GCR prepares teams to compete for larger scale convergence research awards through programs that support center-scale activities.
Convergence research is a critical mechanism for addressing complex problems focusing on societal needs. It entails integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. A distinct characteristic of convergence research, in contrast to other forms of multidisciplinary research, is that, from the inception, the convergence paradigm intentionally brings together intellectually diverse researchers and stakeholders to frame the research questions, develop effective ways of communicating across disciplines and sectors, adopt common frameworks for their solution, and, when appropriate, develop a new scientific vocabulary. Research teams practicing convergence aim at developing sustainable relationships that may not only create solutions to the problem that engendered the collaboration, but also develop novel ways of framing related research questions and open new research vistas.
NSF Program Directors have the primary responsibility for carrying out the Agency's overall mission to support innovative activities in fundamental research and education that contribute to the nation's technological strength, security, and welfare. This responsibility includes ensuring that proposed activities receive expert, fair merit review. Program Directors are also responsible for service in support of other NSF-wide activities and initiatives that together accomplish NSF's strategic goals, to 1) Expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning, 2) Advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges, and 3) Enhance NSF’s performance of its mission.
In support of these goals, NSF Program Directors are responsible for extensive interaction with the research community and other stakeholders including industry and other Federal agencies. 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. This requires expertise in appropriate disciplines to implement the proposal review and evaluation process for the program, as well as strong skills in written and oral communication. Successful candidates should be receptive to new ideas, have a strong sense of fairness, excellent judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.
The Program Director will be working with a second, experienced program officer to co-manage either the Infrastructure/Instrumentation portfolio or the Cross-cutting, Collaborative Research portfolio. The Program Director will contribute to developing new activities and new funding opportunities within these portfolios and to the merit review process for new proposals. They will also provide oversight of existing awards in the respective portfolios, including organizing or coordinating progress reviews and conducting risk management. All four programs in these portfolios are conducted collaboratively with teams of program officers from across NSF. The successful applicant will work with counterparts across NSF, as well as with other OIA team members, in developing collaboration and cooperation across the Foundation, supporting partnerships among academic and other research stakeholders, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the research enterprise. These IA Program Director positions are unparalleled opportunities to ensure NSF-funded activities are at the forefront of advancing research and education.
The position recruited under this announcement will be filled under the following appointment option(s):
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.
Candidates must have (1) a Ph.D. in any field of science or engineering supported by NSF, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position; OR (2) a Master’s degree in any field of science or engineering supported by NSF, plus after award of the Master’s degree, eight or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.
In addition, NSF is seeking people who are entrepreneurial in nature and have prior experience in roles related to either the development and management of research infrastructure implementation projects or the successful leadership of multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaborations. Experience in interacting, leading, or working with researchers from a wide range of disciplines and leading, building or facilitating the formation of teams to address complex research problems is of particular interest. As noted above, the positions require effective oral and written communication skills and a commitment to high standards of ethical conduct. The positions also require a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, attention to detail, good judgment and a high degree of personal integrity. The candidates are expected to function effectively as a member of crosscutting, fast-paced, and interactive teams and have a strong interest in advancing the research frontier. The candidate must also demonstrate the capability or potential to successfully engage external stakeholders through outreach to promote NSF activities, foster the inclusion of groups who are underrepresented in STEM, and to leverage program funds through inter-agency and intra-agency collaborations.
To apply, email a single PDF document that includes: 1) a cover letter explaining the reasons you are interested in the position, 2) a curriculum vitae (CV), and 3) a Citizen Affidavit, if applicable. The cover letter should describe how your experiences fit with the position of an IA Program Director (referencing the CV). It is preferred that application materials and questions be sent to the Office of Integrative Activities via email to OIA@nsf.gov with "IA Program Director" in the subject line.