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Director, Earth from Space Institute

Universities Space Research Association
Columbia, Maryland (US), Remote
Closing date
Oct 9, 2022

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Earth and Space Science Informatics
Career Level
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type
Non-Government Organization/Non-Profit

Director, Earth from Space Institute

Full-time, Science


Columbia, Maryland, Columbia, MD, US

Greenbelt, Maryland, Greenbelt, MD, US

Washington, DC, Washington, DC, US

The perspective of observing our home planet from the vantage point of space enables studying the Earth’s atmosphere, continents, and oceans by measurements of geophysical parameters on a continuous basis. This perspective is increasingly accessible, and the volume of Earth observations from civil, commercial and defense satellites is growing at an ever-faster pace. The challenge for scientists, engineers and other users is to convert data into useful information that enables our scientific understanding and knowledge of the Earth system to make informed decisions for addressing societal needs.

USRA has established an independent research Institute dedicated to the study of Earth from Space (EfSI). The Institute continues to seek and attract funding from private and public sources, including foundations and corporate sponsors, collaborating with Federal agencies and collaborations with universities and other research centers and institutes to support its research activities.  The Institute will bring together diverse and interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers and applied practitioners focused on Earth system science and applications to the benefit of our nation and the world, as enabled by space-based observations. 

Position Summary:

The Director of the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) is responsible for the management of the institute and its scientists. This includes developing and implementing a strategy to achieve the EfSI purpose, recruiting and managing a diverse scientific team, communicating its activities, raising funds from private and federal sources, initiating studies to inform Federal agencies and the public decision-making, and leading symposia and workshops to bring together scientists and decision-makers to build greater resilience in communities affected by high impact extreme weather and climate events.  

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

Responsible for day-to-day management, technical direction, and oversight of the Earth from Space Institute and its staff

Maintains a presence and initiates studies that bring together diverse and interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers and practitioners focused on Earth system science and applications topics enabled by space-based observations 

Recognizes and leverages the Institute’s strengths to identify new opportunities and applications within the scope of the program and in consultation with appropriate stakeholders

Responsible for fundraising from both private and public sources to achieve the institute’s strategic goals, independently and in collaboration with universities and other research organizations

Organizes annual meetings and symposia to bring together the scientific and technical communities in a collaborative forum to exchange scientific results, form collaborations and inform decision-makers

Develops and maintains a high profile with sponsors and US academic institutions through participation and leadership in scientific, technical and organizational reviews and advisory panels

Communicates knowledge and understanding of the Earth system to assist decision makers for societal benefit

Meets financial objectives by forecasting requirements; preparing an annual budget; scheduling expenditures; analyzing variances; initiating corrective actions to ensure EfSI continues to grow as a vibrant research institute

Ensures compliance with USRA corporate policies and procedures

Other job-related duties as assigned



Ph.D. in related scientific or technical fields and demonstrated scientific and technical leadership in earth system science and applications


At least 20 years of research in an Earth system science with a major focus on Earth observations from space and their use for science and application

Experience with satellite remote sensing technologies, Earth science applications, Earth system modeling and data processing/big data

Demonstrated experience leading scientific and technical teams

Recognized international reputation in Earth system science

Prior or current NASA and/or NOAA program leadership and experience highly desirable, not required

Demonstrated fundraising ability is required.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities: 

Working knowledge of project scheduling tools and management

Knowledge of NASA missions, policies, and science organizations


Behave Ethically: Understand ethical behavior and business practices and ensure own behavior is consistent with these standards and aligns with the values of USRA

Build Relationships: Establish and maintain positive working relationships with others, both internally and externally, to achieve the goals of USRA. Excellent customer focus

Communicate Effectively: Speak publicly, listen and write in a clear, thorough and timely manner using appropriate and effective communication tools and techniques

Foster Teamwork: Work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, resolve problems, and make decisions that enhance fundraising effectiveness

Lead: Positively influence others to achieve results that are in the best interest of the organization.

Organize: Set priorities, develop a work schedule, monitor progress towards goals, and track details, data, information and activities

Plan: Determine strategies to move the organization forward, set goals, create and implement actions plans, and evaluate the process and results

Solve Problems: Assess problem situations to identify causes, gather and process relevant information, generate possible solutions, and make recommendations and/or resolve the problem

Working Conditions:

This position resides within a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage. This is largely a sedentary role.


Position is eligible for telecommuting.


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