The mission of AST is to support forefront research in ground-based astronomy; to help ensure the scientific excellence of the U.S. astronomical community; to provide access to world-class research facilities through merit review; to support the development of new instrumentation and next-generation facilities; and to encourage broad understanding of the astronomical sciences by a diverse population of scientists, policy makers, educators, and the public at large. The Division supports research in all areas of astronomy and astrophysics as well as related multidisciplinary studies. Because of the scale of modern astronomical research, the Division engages in numerous interagency and international collaborations. Areas of emphasis and the priorities of specific programs are guided by community recommendations, which have been developed and transmitted by National Academies decadal surveys and other reports, and by various federal advisory committees.
The candidate(s) selected for this position will have responsibility in one or more of the following areas: management oversight of mid-scale instrumentation and/or science awards; management oversight of facilities; interaction with other NSF programs, Federal and international agencies and organizations; management of proposal merit review, award recommendations, and post-award management. Program Directors are expected to bring their scientific expertise to the activities of the Division and to serve as a liaison between the astronomical community and NSF, disseminating information about NSF and Division activities and opportunities. Candidates are expected to work with the astronomical research and education community to broaden the diversity of participants and promote equity and inclusion across NSF programs.
The responsibilities of the NSF Program Director are constantly evolving. The Program Director is guided by the goals of NSF’s Strategic Plan: (1) transform the frontiers of science and engineering; (2) stimulate innovation and address societal needs through research and education; and (3) excel as a Federal Science Agency. The core strategies NSF staff employ include developing intellectual capital, strengthening the physical infrastructure, integrating research and education, and promoting partnerships. Duties may include some combination of the following:
Advising and assisting in the development of goals, objectives, and plans for research programs and infrastructure. Implementing recommendations of Federal advisory committees (such as the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee) and their subcommittees, and of National Academies studies.
Evaluating, assessing, and advising division management about astronomical community needs for computational and data infrastructure, especially support for hardware, software, and algorithm development.
Conducting appropriate oversight of Major Multi-user Facilities (MMF) in operation or under construction, including activities such as review of budgets and annual program plans, and possible divestment, re-purposing, or transition of individual facility components.
Supporting MPS/AST management with all aspects of MMF planning, construction, and operations.
Working with peers and agency officials to plan, evaluate, facilitate, and oversee directorate-wide activities related to MPS facilities, and with the Office of the Director to determine how to assess the priorities of large projects MPS-wide.
Preparation of major facility award and decision packages for the National Science Board and internal review boards, potentially requiring the formation of internal and external advisory structures and including coordination with other agencies.
Planning, evaluating, coordinating and supporting mid-scale projects and their impact on major facilities.
Developing and executing partnerships with other Federal agencies, international organizations, and private, state, and independent organizations within the United States, for both mid-scale and large facilities.