Director, Lunar & Planetary Institute

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Archive Date: 
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
LPI / Universities Space Research Association
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science, technology and education. USRA works across disciplines including planetary science, Earth science, heliophysics, astrophysics, space exploration, engineering and technology, and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental and applied research to management and operations programs and facilities. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the science, technology, engineering and education communities to develop and deliver sophisticated and forward-looking solutions to U.S. Federal agencies and other sponsors, in a timely and effective manner.

Position Summary:

USRA is seeking a Director to provide scientific leadership for, and management of, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and to maintain it as a premier research center in support of NASA’s strategic goals in planetary science and exploration of the solar system. The Director will oversee multiple activities carried out by the LPI, including: conducting cutting-edge scientific research through grants and contracts; running highly successful conferences and workshops, including the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; training and providing resources for early-career researchers; connecting the public to planetary science through a variety of events and activities; and providing extensive library and digital resources to the planetary science community. The LPI enjoys a strong partnership with the Astromaterials Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, facilitated by the close proximity of our two organizations.

In addition to ensuring the smooth operation of the Institute, the Director will identify new opportunities to leverage the base funding provided by NASA to strengthen and broaden the funding for research at the LPI. The Director is expected to lead and further develop the LPI vision and mission by engaging the LPI team, LPI Science Council and the planetary science community at large.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities

  • Meet all the obligations and commitments in the LPI Cooperative Agreement with NASA.
  • Provide supervision of and guidance to a staff of permanent and temporary scientists, conference planners, education and public engagement professionals, library and communications professionals, and administrative staff, and provide direction to matrixed business, IT, and human resources staff. Mentor and develop staff.
  • Maintain excellent relationships with NASA HQ, NASA/JSC, and other NASA customers through regular interactions
  • Maintain a presence in the appropriate research fields, which should include maintenance of an active research program with ongoing publication and funding activities.
  • Develop and maintain a high profile with the planetary science community through participation on and leadership of review and advisory panels (e.g., National Academies and NASA panels).
  • Develop tactical and strategic plans to ensure that the Institute remains responsive to NASA goals for planetary exploration.
  • Identify and pursue new initiatives within the scope of the LPI Cooperative Agreement and in consultation with appropriate stakeholders

Required Qualifications:


  • Ph.D. in one of the following fields: geosciences, planetary sciences, physics, astronomy or associated fields, plus at least 10 years of experience past the Ph.D. level.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Must have at least 5 years of proven management experience for multi-disciplinary programs and/or scientific organizations.
  • Proven record of writing and obtaining large research/mission grants or contracts funding.
  • Interest in science communication through public engagement and outreach.
  • Familiarity with multiple planetary disciplines, e.g, astrochemistry, astrobiology, solar system exploration, etc.
  • Demonstrated record of mentoring early - to mid-career scientists and developing future diverse workforce.


  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.


  • Frequent travel may be required.

Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita.  Review of candidates will begin immediately.  Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis
Talent Acquisition
Universities Space Research Association
Street Line 1: 
7178 Columbia Gateway Drive
Zip/Postal Code: 
United States of America
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis