Deputy Director - NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

NFS’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NSF’s OIR Lab) is an AURA-managed center headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.  NSF’s OIR Lab operates the Gemini Observatory, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, Mid-Scale Observatories (MSO, which includes Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory) and Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) in the United States and in Chile.  OIR Lab is the US national center for ground-based observational nighttime astronomy, and has sites of operations in Hawai`i, Arizona, and Chile.  OIR Lab launched in October 2019, with 450 FTEs and an ~$80M USD annual budget.

OIR Lab is seeking a Deputy Director to work in close partnership with the Director to lead the lab, and to develop and execute strategic and long-term plans.  The Deputy Director will be responsible for a substantial portion of the internal operation, including oversight of key operational departments and staff.  The Deputy Director will coordinate OIR Lab-wide activities and work closely with the observatory directors (Gemini, MSO, Rubin Operations, and CSDC) and services group directors (Engineering, Science, and Center Operations) in support of organizational objectives.  This opening presents an exciting opportunity to lead and shape this new national lab.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at OIR Lab.  Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

We seek an individual with an interest in both the strategic and operational aspects of running a national scientific facility in a culturally diverse environment. The successful candidate will have a history of progressively responsible experience in a major scientific organization and/or department, and experience in observatory operations, strategic planning, and budgetary planning and/or financial management.  The successful applicant will also possess the ability to lead teams of diverse backgrounds and cultures and foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

The position is based in Tucson, Arizona. 

Activities and Functions of the Job:

  • With the OIR Lab Director, lead in the development and implementation of OIR Lab’s strategic long-range and annual program plans.
  • Champion and manage OIR Lab-wide changes, with initial primary focus on the integration of each Program into the OIR Lab structure, including changes necessary to enable an effective integration.
  • Provide oversight and direction to shared service divisions and professional service pools.
  • Work with the OIR Lab Director and the Program and Service Directors to set priorities, optimize resources, and resolve conflicts across all OIR Lab programs.
  • With the OIR Lab Director, represent the Lab to oversight and advisory bodies and other stakeholders. Represent the OIR Lab at conferences and other functions.
  • As appropriate, serve as the Director’s proxy when unavailable.
  • Demonstrate leadership in recruiting a diverse workforce, in setting an equitable and inclusive culture in the Lab, and in expanding the culture through the hiring, mentoring, advancement and delegation of responsibility to individuals from historically underrepresented populations and engagement with under-served communities.
  • With the OIR Lab Director, ensure that the program is executed in a manner consistent with funding agency and AURA policies.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Ph.D. in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or closely related field.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Several years of experience managing people and projects.
  • Demonstrated critical analysis, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion, including mastery of the skills needed to manage the efforts of a large, diverse workforce.
  • Experience in strategic planning and/or budgetary planning/management.
  • Interest in leading teams through organizational change.
  • Interest in both the strategic and operational aspects of running a national, scientific facility.

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Demonstrated ability to build high-performing teams 
  • Experience leading teams through organizational change
  • A successful track record of increasing management responsibility in a major scientific organization and/or department.
  • Experience managing geographically dispersed teams
  • Record of research in astrophysics or domain-appropriate equivalent

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required. Given the international nature of NSF’s OIR Lab, you will need to travel to the various observatory sites (Arizona, Chile and Hawai`i), and occasional work at high elevation summit sites may be required (summit elevations range from 6,800 feet to 14,000 feet).

All applicants must submit a CV and a cover letter that describes their interest in this position and relevant experience.  The cover letter should explicitly address experience in, and vision for, diversity and inclusion at OIR Lab. Please include a list of 3 professional references with one being related to your current position.  Please provide contact information for your references in your application.

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates.

For full consideration, please submit your application by April 1, 2020.  This position will remain open until filled.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The requests for self-identification in the application process are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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