NASA Astrobiology Program

NASA Seeks New Director for the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)

By Keith Cowing
March 28, 2013
NASA Seeks New Director for the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)

The ideal candidate will be an internationally recognized scientist with proven experience in leading large, multi-disciplinary, multi-site research programs or projects, possessed with a vision for leading the Institute into the future. Established in 1998 as part of NASA’s Astrobiology Program, the NAI is a collaboration between NASA, US academic institutions, and foreign institutions, governments and research organizations – and is composed of over 800 US scientists and hundreds of researchers abroad. The NAI, currently headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, functions as a virtual institute, its members linked by modern information technologies.

NASA’s astrobiology program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe? In striving to answer these questions and improve understanding of biological, planetary, and cosmic phenomena and relationships among them, researchers in astronomy and astrophysics, Earth and planetary sciences, microbiology and evolutionary biology, cosmochemistry, and other relevant disciplines are advancing astrobiology research and the enterprise of space exploration.

The NAI Director, a member of the federal Senior Executive Service (SES), is both the senior scientific officer and chief operating officer of the NAI. The Director coordinates scientific activities of the Institute’s member teams and is responsible and held accountable for all operational aspects of the NAI, including the administration of personnel, budget and NASA policies.
The Director will lead the NAI in fulfilling its mission to perform, support, and catalyze collaborative interdisciplinary astrobiology research; train the next generation of astrobiologists; provide scientific and technical leadership for astrobiology space mission investigations; develop new information technology approaches for collaborations among widely distributed investigators; and support K-12 education and public outreach programs.

Applicants for this position should have experience in conducting interdisciplinary scientific research (e.g., biological oceanography, ecology, biogeochemistry) and the demonstrated skills needed to harness the strengths of disparate research communities towards a greater goal. He/she should understand how to grow a research endeavor, and respond to changing budget climates, while focusing on maximizing the scientific return on NASA’s investments in astrobiology. He/she should have experience in managing science research programs or projects, leading a diverse staff ranging from senior scientists to support personnel, resource planning, and executing budgets and schedules. He/she should be comfortable with modern information technologies and distributed research teams. NASA is particularly interested in applicants who will find ways to infuse astrobiology into NASA flight missions.

U.S. citizenship is required. Interested applicants should apply directly to USAJobs to vacancy number AR13S0001 at

Deadline to apply is June 21, 2013.

NASA Ames Research Center does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor.

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻