Program Directors, Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)

Division: Astronomical Sciences (MPS/AST)
Directorate: Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)
Job Type:
Appointment Type:
Temporary / Rotator
This job is open to the public

Application timeline

Date Posted:
Closing date: Open until filled

Position Description

The Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) of the Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) announces a search for Program Director positions under the provisions of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA). IPA Program Directors typically work within our Individual Investigator Grants programs. We are therefore particularly interested in attracting the services of community members with experience in the federal grant process (preparing proposals, reviewing proposals, and/or administering grants).

IPA Program Directors are involved in activities such as the merit review and proposal recommendation process, project oversight, budget management, program planning, the preparation of written materials describing research supported by the Division, and interactions with other NSF programs, external organizations and Federal agencies. Program Directors are expected to bring to the Division expertise in astronomy and astrophysics as well as an up-to-date perspective on the state of the astronomical research and education community; they also serve as a liaison between NSF and the community, disseminating information about NSF activities and opportunities. Appointees should be willing to contribute to other NSF Divisions or Directorates, and coordinate with external agencies and organizations, as necessary.

Program Directors strive to broaden the diversity of participants in all NSF programs; they work among a team of scientific and administrative professionals to support the Division's responsibilities within NSF's overall mission, which is to promote the progress of science and engineering, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare, and to secure the national defense. To discharge this responsibility requires not only knowledge in the appropriate disciplines, but also a commitment to high standards, a considerable breadth of interest and 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 astronomy, astrophysics, physics or a closely related field plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

Candidates are expected to have significant knowledge of research and research-related activities in astronomy and astrophysics; familiarity with and recent exposure to the astronomical community is also highly desirable. Program Directors must be excellent communicators, should be comfortable adopting a leadership role, and must be able to function effectively while working alone or within program-specific groups in the Division.

To apply for a Program Director position under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, please email a current Resume or short Curriculum Vitae along with a cover letter highlighting relevant skills and experiences and a Citizenship Affidavit (if applicable) to Dr. Robert Smith at

For information and conditions for IPA positions, please visit the NSF website at:

For additional perspective on working at NSF, please see "Programs for Science/Engineering/ Education" on the NSF website at: and

For additional information about AST research areas and programs, please see