Program Director (Chemical Process Systems and Industrial Decarbonization)

Division: Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (ENG/CBET)
Directorate: Engineering (ENG)
Job Type:
Appointment Type:
Temporary / Rotator
Pay Grade/Scale:
This job is open to the public

Application timeline

Date Posted:
Closing date: Open until filled
Formal consideration of interested applicants will begin and will continue until a selection is made.

Position Summary

The Division of Chemical, Biological, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), within the Directorate for Engineering (ENG), at the National Science Foundation, announces a nationwide search for an engineering professional to serve as a program director in CBET’s Chemical Process Systems Cluster, with a focus on industrial decarbonization to achieve net zero climate goals.  

As indicated in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports on Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System (2021)[1] and (2023), the Long-Term Strategy of the United States, Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050[2] and the US Innovation to meet 2050 Climate Goals[3], bold and decisive action is urgently required to address decarbonization within the chemical industry.  Such action cannot be achieved without increased research and translation of that research to implementation.  Multiple programs within CBET support this research area.  The new program director will coordinate activities within the division and collaborate across NSF to increase activities that support Net Zero goals within the chemical process sector. 

For more information on the Chemical Process Systems Cluster, please see: Chemical Process Systems Cluster (CPS) | NSF - National Science Foundation. The CPS cluster includes programs in Catalysis, Interfacial Engineering, Electrochemical Systems, and Process Systems, Reaction Engineering & Molecular Thermodynamics.  

Position Description

Program Directors have an unparalleled opportunity and responsibility to ensure NSF-funded research is at the forefront of advancing fundamental knowledge. In support of that, Program Directors are responsible for extensive interaction with academic research communities and industry, as well as interaction with other Federal agencies that may lead to development of interagency collaborations. Within this context, Program Directors solicit, receive and review research and education proposals, make funding recommendations, administer awards, and undertake interaction with research communities in these fields. They are also responsible for service to Foundation-wide activities and initiatives that together accomplish NSF’s strategic goals to: 1) Transform the Frontiers of Science and Engineering, 2) Stimulate Innovation and Address Societal Needs through Research and Education, and 3) Excel as a Federal Science Agency. 

The position requires a commitment to high standards of intellectualism and ethical conduct, a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.

The position recruited under this announcement will be filled under the following appointment option(s):

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment: Individuals eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of State and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two-year period. The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated funding toward the assignee's salary and benefits. Initial IPA assignments are made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement. 

It is NSF policy that NSF personnel employed at or IPAs detailed to NSF are not permitted to participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.  Failure to comply with this NSF policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from Federal Service or termination of an IPA assignment and referral to the Office of Inspector General.

Applications will be accepted from U.S. Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-Citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible. Non-Citizens are not eligible for positions requiring a security clearance.

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in a relevant field of engineering plus, after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

For academic applicants, the rank of associate professor or higher must have been achieved.  Experience working within a team environment and some administrative skills involving budgets and people are needed. Appointees are expected to function effectively within their specific program and as members of crosscutting and interactive teams. Skills in multidisciplinary research are highly desirable.

Research or research administration experience is required related to achieving or accelerating net-zero climate goals within the chemical sector.  Primary areas of focus are 1) industrial chemical manufacturing processes relevant for decarbonization, and 2) processes involving recycling or upcycling of carbon waste.  Relevant research expertise might include (but is not limited to): catalysis and catalytic reaction engineering; gasification, pyrolysis, and/or chemical looping processes; chemical process electrification; energy storage and transport technologies; CO2 capture and valorization; process intensification and systems integration (including energy-efficient separations); and fundamental aspects of chemistry and chemical engineering science supporting green chemistry and net-zero chemical manufacturing. 

Should you be interested in this position, please email a current CV accompanied by a cover letter that includes (1) you background that specifically relates to the Chemical Process Systems programs in CBET, (2) your vision for activities or program development within the Chemical Process Systems cluster to meet the aims of supporting research to achieve net zero in the chemical process industry, (3) availability time frame and reasons for interest in an IPA position at NSF, and (4) prior experience working in a multi-disciplinary team environment.  If you wish to nominate a colleague for this position, please send their name and contact details by email. 

Vacancy Contact: Bob McCabe, Program Director, Catalysis Program
Division of Chemical, Biological, Environmental and Transport Systems
Directorate for Engineering
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue 
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 292-4826