Director, Energy and Minerals Group (Principal Research Scientist, Geology)

Job Details

Director, Energy and Minerals Group (Principal Research Scientist, Geology)

Illinois State Geological Survey

Prairie Research Institute

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) is a premier state geological survey serving the needs of the public, government, and industry with earth science information and research relevant to natural resources, environmental quality, economic vitality, and public safety. ISGS is part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.  Learn more at

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

ISGS is seeking to hire a Director, Energy and Minerals Group (Principal Research Scientist, Geology) to provide leadership, clear scientific vision, and direction to the sub-disciplines and staff members who comprise the Energy and Minerals Group; encourage multidisciplinary project-based research related to energy,  geologic storage (e.g., carbon dioxide, hydrogen, natural gas, geothermal, and compressed air), and mineral resource development; facilitate coordination, communication, and teamwork throughout the Survey, PRI, and with other components of the University, as well as state and federal government and with industry collaborators; and implement and administer research and service programs of the Survey. Coordinate and promote funding opportunities to facilitate innovative project-based research for the Energy and Minerals Group throughout the Survey and PRI.  Establish clear metrics for a diverse and inclusive workforce with a focus on transformative energy and minerals research. Position is based in Champaign, Illinois.

ISGS has a 20+ year track record of successfully obtaining significant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for applied subsurface characterization in support of geologic carbon storage and enhanced oil recovery. Most recently, ISGS has successfully secured funding from the U.S. DOE and U.S. Department of Interior for characterization work in support of hydrogen storage and evaluation of critical and strategic mineral resources. There is a high prioritization of geologic storage and critical minerals evaluation and research at the federal level with ongoing and forthcoming funding opportunities.

Duties & Responsibilities
• Identify relevant research needs and project opportunities.

 • Develop proposals for external funding and secure funding to support research objectives.

 • Serve as principal investigator, lead research projects, and perform tasks in that capacity including management of grant funding and efficient production of project, grant, or contract reports and deliverables.

 • Review planned research and service activities related to energy and geologic storage, as well as mineral resource development.

 • Collaborate with survey scientists, PRI, University of Illinois faculty, and external colleagues to provide integrated interpretations and applications to existing and new research programs.

 • Critically review grant proposals and proposed publications such as maps, abstracts, journal articles, and databases submitted by Survey staff and outside individuals for publication by the Survey or other professional organizations or peer-reviewed journal publishers.

 • Publish results of investigations in Survey publication series and other venues and formats, which include, but are not limited to, peer-reviewed journal articles, public information pamphlets and posters, geologic maps, web pages, scientific abstracts, and databases.

• Supervise and lead staff to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels. For direct reporting staff, this also includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance monitoring and evaluation, career/position mentoring, and leave/travel approval.

 • Collaborate with and advise the Survey Director in strategic program planning, resource and space allocation, and implementation of energy and minerals programs.

 • Coordinate with ISGS Sections, PRI’s Survey Directors, and other administrators throughout PRI to promote cooperation, resource allocation, and efficient management of on-going projects and project development.

• Respond to requests for information on energy and minerals issues and provide technical expertise to PRI staff, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, industry, and the general public.

 • Attend, participate in, and contribute to meetings, conferences, and workshops focused on aspects of energy, geologic storage, and mineral resource development (i.e., critical minerals). This includes in-state, national, and international travel.

 • Participate in a leadership role in professional organizations, serve on editorial boards for peer-reviewed journals, and participate in national or international committees addressing issues related to expertise.

 • Communicate results of investigations as presentations and lectures to a wide variety of audiences in a variety of venues including public lectures and meetings, short courses, field trips, professional organization conferences and meetings, and academic or research seminars.

• Contribute in the areas of education, outreach, and/or other service to the Survey, PRI, the University of Illinois, and the state of Illinois. Emphasize stakeholder engagement in the public, private, and governmental sectors of the state of Illinois to stress ISGS and PRI contributions to the economic engine of the State and environmental sustainability programs that impact the health of Illinois citizens.

 • If warranted, pursue adjunct faculty status and mentor graduate students within the University of Illinois and/or other universities.

 • Enhance the reputation of the Survey and PRI at the state, national, and international levels.

 • Keep abreast of developments in the energy, geologic storage, and minerals resources disciplines.

 • Perform other duties as needed in order to further the mission and goals of ISGS and PRI.

Minimum Qualifications:  Master’s degree in geology or related discipline. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position. At least 13 years’ related industry or research experience with master’s degree or at least 10 years’ related industry or research experience with Ph.D. Supervisory and/or team leadership experience.  Demonstrated broad knowledge and expertise in conducting, directing, and administering research in energy, geologic storage, and mineral resource development. Valid driver's license.

Preferred Qualifications:  Ph.D. in geology or related discipline. Alternate degree fields will be considered/ accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.  Specific experience and interactions with the U.S. DOE and other federal agencies, a geological background consistent with understanding geologic storage issues in a sedimentary basin setting, and a strong working knowledge of and experience with critical minerals and their occurrence in the U.S.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:  Ability to establish and sustain an independent research program. Ability to effectively acquire and manage often large and multi-faceted project funds and resources. Ability to effectively manage research as a principal investigator and supervise and mentor associated personnel. Strong national and international scientific stature based on publication record, leadership in professional societies, journal editorships, peer recognition, and awards. Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Affinity for cooperative or interdisciplinary research with scientists at the Survey, professionals at other Surveys or other academic units, as well as governmental and other academic institutions nationally and internationally. Proficiency in commonly employed software and databases.

Appointment Information: This is a full-time academic professional appointment renewable annually based on satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding.  The starting date is negotiable and the salary is commensurate with experience. The U.S. Department of Energy requires foreign national reporting for any person who is not a US citizen by birth or naturalization and the current ruling by DOE is that no foreign national personnel can begin work on projects until approved.

Application Procedure and Deadline Information:  Applications must be received by 6:00 p.m. CST on December 30, 2022. Applicants may be interviewed before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after this date.  To apply, please use the Apply Now button. Applications not submitted through this website will not be considered.   Application materials must include a 1) a cover letter that clearly articulates how your qualifications and experience make you a viable candidate for this position and should address the qualifications listed above, 2) a CV or resume, and 3) the names and contact information including e-mail addresses of three professional (not personal) references. All requested information and documentation must be submitted for applications to be considered.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

For further information please contact Lori Walston-Vonderharr, Human Resources, Prairie Research Institute, at or 217-244-2401.

The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity employer, including but not limited to disability and/or veteran status, and complies with all applicable state and federal employment mandates. Please visit Required Employment Notices and Posters to view our non-discrimination statement and find additional information about required background checks, sexual harassment/misconduct disclosures, COVID-19 vaccination requirement, and employment eligibility review through E-Verify.

Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply and may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2008) to complete the application and/or interview process. Requests may be submitted through the reasonable accommodations portal, or by contacting the Accessibility & Accommodations Division of the Office for Access and Equity at 217-333-0885, or by emailing



The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) is part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. PRI houses five large scientific surveys covering a wide range of expertise including biology, water resources, climate, geology, sustainable technology and archaeology. The ISGS is a premier state geological survey, with over 200 scientists and technical support staff, serving the needs of the public, government, and industry with earth science information and research relevant to natural resources, environmental quality, economic vitality, and public safety. The University is a land-grant institution that provides access to world-class laboratory and academic facilities, Big Ten athletic events, and internationally acclaimed cultural opportunities.
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