Job Opportunities

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Job Opportunities


Heliophysics Division Director

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has an immediate need for an experienced science leader to serve as Heliophysics Division Director under an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) appointment.

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.

The incumbent will lead the NASA HQ Heliophysics team in running Research and Analysis programs of national and international scope, developing and operating a fleet of 23 missions in various stages of implementation and flight, and setting a strategic agenda for the future informed by the decadal survey, including both fundamental research and space weather related applied research, a crucial inter-agency activity. The incumbent will also advocate and speak for all of NASA heliophysics to various stakeholders, manage and oversee budget planning for NASA Heliophysics, and directly engage in providing overall strategy, guidance, and advocacy for all of NASA’s science programs in SMD. The Heliophysics Division Director reports directly to the SMD Associate Administrator (AA), and supports the AA in determining and presenting the Heliophysics Program to NASA senior management, the Office of Management and Budget, Congress, and the scientific community.

Specific responsibilities of this position include:

Leading a division of approximately 15 people at NASA HQ, including scientists, engineers, and administrative professionals responsible for managing the Heliophysics program, comprised of the Explorer Program, the Living With a Star Program, the Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, the Research and Analysis Program, technology development, as well as ongoing mission operations and data analysis. The Heliophysics portfolio has a total budget of approximately $700 million per year, covering 5 flight missions under development, 18 missions in primary or extended operations, a grants program of approximately 500 active grants, and several hundred civil service scientists and engineers at the NASA Field Centers.

Developing budgets, policies and priorities for the programs under his/her cognizance, including providing scientific and technical leadership required to guide implementation of relevant programs at the NASA Field Centers, other Government research laboratories, academia and private industry.

Developing rationale and justification to support the annual budget request for programs in Heliophysics Division. Develops, coordinates with other SMD divisions, and presents periodic reviews and reporting where required, including weekly reports, monthly and quarterly project reviews, monthly program reviews, and monthly SMD reviews.

Ensuring an effective program of research and analysis of Heliophysics science data and dissemination of results of the studies to the general public and to the scientific community through scientific publications, symposia, colloquia, press releases and press conferences.

Serving as the spokesperson, and liaison with the scientific community through advisory committees and other entities such as the National Academy of Sciences and NASA internal advisory committees. Being part of key conferences to provide updates and to receive input.

Coordinate ongoing and future Heliophysics with the international community and other Federal Agencies, as well as commercial partners, where applicable. Formulating future programs, developing a strategy for the implementation of these programs which is consistent with available resources, and establishing the feasibility of the flight mission components of the program, all in conjunction with a robust research and analysis program.

The incumbent will also be responsible for all aspects of organizational management, including selection of employees, assignment of duties, evaluation of employee performance, planning of employee training, and recommendation of awards, promotions, discipline and adverse actions. The incumbent will promote equal opportunity and diversity in the workforce through employment, development, advancement, and treatment of employees directly and indirectly supervised. Managerial responsibility extends to improvement in efficiency, cost efficiency, and timeliness of performance. The incumbent is responsible for compliance with occupational safety, health, environmental, and energy standards, orders, rules, and regulations applicable to the area of responsibility, and for creating an atmosphere of safety consciousness within the workplace and ensuring safe work practices in a safe work environment.

Ideal candidates will have a Ph.D. in a Heliophysics-related discipline, and have at least 5 years of experience leading teams in accomplishing research objectives. All candidates must possess demonstrated and excellent leadership and communication skills.

This position may require the incumbent to obtain and maintain a Top Secret/SCI clearance.

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:


  • 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.


Applicants should forward their resume or Curriculum Vitae to Mr. Leo Gomez at on or before October 13, 2017; any questions can be directed to Mr. Gomez at 202.358.1130.