Job Opportunities

Learn more about SMD job opportunities:

 

Announcement of Civil Servant Program Scientist Positions in NASA HQ’s Planetary Science Division

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate has an anticipated need for one or more civil servant scientists with expertise in planetary science to serve as Program Scientists in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Division is responsible for the scientific exploration of our Solar System and for improving our understanding of planets.  The Planetary Science Division (PSD) anticipates hiring one or more new Civil Servants to in a Program Scientist role.

NASA Program Scientists tackle a wide variety of challenges. These include: developing, operating, and maintaining Research & Analysis grants programs; serving as the Headquarters scientific lead for one or more Planetary Science missions; and helping implement and communicate the Planetary Science Division’s strategic goals. Program scientists can have substantial influence on strategic planning and can help shape the long-term scientific direction of missions and programs that they oversee.  

It is preferable but not required for most Program Scientists in the Planetary Science Division have at least 6 years of post-Ph.D. experience. The ideal candidate will be skilled at working in a collaborative team environment; will be able to adapt to work simultaneously on numerous programs and missions; and will be able to foster productive relationships with staff working on the space missions they oversee, and with the US planetary science community at large. Disciplinary expertise in one or more areas of planetary science is essential, but the ability to place this knowledge in the broader context of planetary science is equally important for the success of the Division’s programs.

Application Details

This is a fair and open competition, and all U.S. Citizens and Status candidates may apply.

This will be a Direct Hire Authority (DHA) announcement through https://www.USAJOBS.gov/, so it will only be open for 3 working days. The short period that the announcement is open is due to the type of hiring authority, which streamlines the hiring process and assists with rapidly filling competitive positions. It is not a reflection of the openness of the position. Advance notice of the vacancy is being provided to allow interested scientists to prepare. In order to apply for this position, you will only need to submit your resume and answer the screening questions and supplemental information through USAJOBS.

Given the short period the announcement will be open, it is a good idea to log into USAJOBS before and update your username, password, resume, etc., to facilitate the timely submission of an application.

Candidates interested in being notified when this job opportunity is posted on USAJOBS are encouraged to sign up for a notification using the features of the USAJOBS website.


 

Announcement of Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Detail Program Scientist Positions in NASA HQ’s Planetary Science Division

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate has an anticipated need for one or more IPA detailee scientists with expertise in planetary science to serve as Program Scientists in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Division is responsible for the scientific exploration of our Solar System and for improving our understanding of planets.  The Planetary Science Division (PSD) anticipates bringing on one or more new program scientists through either a detail arrangement (for current NASA civil servants) or under the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA).

NASA Program Scientists tackle a wide variety of challenges. These include: developing, operating, and maintaining Research & Analysis grants programs; serving as the Headquarters scientific lead for one or more Planetary Science missions; and helping implement and communicate the Planetary Science Division’s strategic goals. Program scientists can have substantial influence on strategic planning and can help shape the long-term scientific direction of missions and programs that they oversee.  

It is preferable but not required for most Program Scientists in the Planetary Science Division have at least 6 years of post-Ph.D. experience. The ideal candidate will be skilled at working in a collaborative team environment; will be able to adapt to work simultaneously on numerous programs and missions; and will be able to foster productive relationships with staff working on the space missions they oversee, and with the US planetary science community at large. Disciplinary expertise in one or more areas of planetary science is essential, but the ability to place this knowledge in the broader context of planetary science is equally important for the success of the Division’s programs.

Application Details

Under authority granted to NASA in the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-201, 118 Stat. 461 (5 U.S.C. 9801 et seq.)), the initial IPA appointment will be for up to two years, with the possibility of reappointment up to a total of six years. The Intergovernmental Personnel Act provides for the temporary assignment of personnel between the Federal Government and state and local governments, colleges and universities, Indian tribal governments, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations; all applicants must be from an IPA-eligible organization.

This provides a unique opportunity for scientists to gain insight into Planetary Science policy and programs, to better understand the proposal review process, and to run scientific programs with multimillion-dollar budgets.

The time spent at NASA Headquarters allows visiting scientists excellent career growth: some return to their home institutions to continue academic research, while others move on to management and leadership positions in the Federal government, academia, at observatories, or in the non-profit sector. Training and mentoring programs are available, on both a formal and informal basis, which further enables our visiting scientists to advance their careers. NASA also offers its visiting scientists regular travel back to their home institutions.

Applicant Eligibility:  Not every employee of a non-Federal entity is eligible to participate in the IPA program. The following lists indicate which employees of eligible non-Federal entities are eligible and which are not eligible to participate in the IPA program:

Eligible:

  • Employees of non-Federal entities provided that they occupy a career position and have been with the entity for at least 90 days.
  • If an employee changes from one non-Federal entity to another, he or she does not have to begin a new 90-day period provided that both organizations are eligible to participate in the IPA program.
  • Since non-Federal entities do not always use the precise terms that are used in the Federal Government, it is important to examine the actual situation. For example, a university professor may not be called permanent, but may have worked at an institution for many years and is expected to continue working there. In such a case, the individual would be eligible to participate.

Not Eligible:

  • Students employed at institutions of higher education in research, graduate, or teaching assistant positions.
  • Elected officials of state and local governments.

 

Conflicts of interest

Duties and responsibilities to be performed for NASA must take into account possible conflicts of interest that may arise as a result of the assignee’s continued employment at his or her home institution. Before selection of an assignee, SMD will consider the particular matters on which the assignee would work, the interest of the assignee's home institution in those matters, and how the assignee's participation may affect the home institution's interest. SMD will also consider whether the applicant is involved in any outside activities that may create additional conflicts. These conflicts of interest arise as part of the Program Scientist’s role in the proposal review process, flight project lifecycle reviews, and policy implementations that may affect future procurements.

Additionally, assignees will not communicate on NASA's behalf with their home institution, continue to work on matters for their home institution, or represent their home institution or other third party to NASA or any other federal agency. Part-time IPAs may present unique conflict and representational concerns given their continued work with their home institution.

These opportunities may also be filled by NASA employees on detail from their Center.  Individual research time while serving as a visiting scientist is negotiable. Positions are available from June 2021, though the start date is flexible.

How to Apply:

IPA detailee applicants should email a cover letter and curriculum vitae as a single PDF file by April 30, 2021 to HQ-SMD-Applications@mail.nasa.gov.  

For more information about either IPA/Detail positions, please contact Stephen Rinehart at Stephen.A.Rinehart@nasa.gov.


 

Anticipated NASA Job Announcement:  Astrophysics Program Scientist

The Astrophysics Division within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) anticipates one or more openings this spring for a scientist to serve as a civil servant Program Scientist at Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Program Scientist will work as part of a diverse and agile team whose core values include excellence, integrity, transparency, teamwork and a growth mindset toward stewarding the nation’s space-based astrophysics program.

Responsibilities

NASA’s Astrophysics Division is responsible for the United States’ space-based astrophysics program. With an astrophysics budget (including the James Webb Space Telescope) exceeding $1.75 billion annually, NASA leads the nation to explore the universe, determine how it began and evolved, and search for extrasolar planets.

NASA’s Astrophysics Program Scientists have broad responsibility for advancing NASA’s astrophysics portfolio; serving as the Headquarters science leads for one or more missions; developing and shaping multimillion-dollar scientific research grants programs selected through competitive peer review; and leading NASA’s preparation for implementing the recommendations of the 2020 Decadal Survey. Program Scientists have substantial influence over high-level astrophysics strategic planning, as well as leading the long-term scientific direction of missions and programs that they oversee. 

Specifically, a Program Scientist within the Astrophysics Division will:

  1. Solve problems in implementing a balanced program across the breadth of astrophysics within technological, scientific, budgetary, and programmatic constraints. Provide solutions that are strategic and tactical, and are innovative as well as implementable, in alignment with the priorities of NASA.
  2. Orchestrate peer reviews that evaluate the scientific merit of proposals in all areas of astrophysics research across the thematic areas of the program (Physics of the Cosmos, Cosmic Origins, Exoplanet Exploration).
  3. Collaboratively define a long-term vision for the program and work collaboratively to implement it in a fast-paced environment, while leading diverse teams using influence rather than supervisory authority.
  4. Communicate, engage, and build consensus with multiple stakeholders, including the scientific community, external advisory committees, senior NASA leaders, and programs and projects at NASA Centers.
  5. Manage multiple responsibilities using effective time management and organizational skills.

 

NASA recognizes that candidates with non-traditional career paths, or individuals who are at earlier stages of their careers may have demonstrated experience in different ways. NASA encourages applications from such individuals.

Application Process

Please note that this is a fair and open competition that all U.S. Citizens and Status candidates can apply to.

This will be a Direct Hire Authority (DHA) announcement through https://www.USAJOBS.gov/, so it will only be open for 3 workdays. The short period that the announcement is open is due to the type of hiring authority, which streamlines the hiring process and assists with rapidly filling competitive positions. It is not a reflection of the openness of the position. Advance notice of the vacancy is being provided to allow interested scientists to prepare. In order to apply for this position, you will only need to (i) submit your resume and a transcript and (ii) answer the screening questions and supplemental information through USAJOBS.

Given the short period the announcement will be open, it is a good idea to log into USAJOBS before the job announcement opens and update your username, password, resume, etc., to facilitate the timely submission of an application.

A transcript demonstrating that you meet the education requirements for a Federal physical scientist will be required at the time of application. Given the short period that the announcement will be open, it is a good idea to obtain a transcript in advance.  Both the education requirements and the transcript requirement are explained in this archived NASA job ad: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/589658400.

Candidates interested in being notified when this job opportunity is posted on USAJOBS and opened for three days are encouraged to sign up for a notification using the features of the USAJOBS website.

Further Information

Candidates interested in this opportunity are encouraged to contact NASA well in advance so they can make a well informed decision on submitting an application during the very short (3 day) window when the job opportunity will be open for applications.  Questions about this anticipated opening for an Astrophysics Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters may be directed to Eric Smith, Chief Scientist, Astrophysics Division, eric.p.smith@nasa.gov, 202-358-2439.


 

Announcement of Fundamental Physics Program Scientist position in NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division

NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division of the Science Mission Directorate will soon solicit applications for a highly motivated individual to provide scientific leadership in pioneering scientific discovery and enabling exploration in its Fundamental Physics program, which focuses on the development of research using the space environment to advance knowledge and applications of quantum science and other fields of physics. The Program Scientist will work as part of a diverse and agile team whose core values include excellence, integrity, transparency, teamwork and a growth mindset toward stewarding the nation’s space biology and physical sciences program.