The Convergence Accelerator Office (CAO) within the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) under the Office of the Director, announces a Nationwide Search to Fill Multiple Program Director Positions for the Convergence Accelerator Program. OIA works across disciplinary boundaries to lead and coordinate strategic programs and opportunities that: advance research excellence and innovation; develop human and infrastructure capacity critical to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise; and promote engagement of scientists and engineers at all career stages.
Formal consideration of interested applications will continue until these positions are filled.
NSF recognizes the importance of translational research and the exciting possibilities of transitioning research to practice, via a range of potential pathways. Launched in 2019, the NSF Convergence Accelerator Office provides a new organizational structure for accelerating transition of use-inspired convergence research into practice in areas of national importance. Convergence research is a critical mechanism for solving many vexing research problems, especially those stemming from complex social and/or scientific challenges. As a funder of research and education across all fields of science and engineering and as a strategic partner in ensuring this new knowledge benefits society, NSF is uniquely positioned to launch this accelerated approach to discovery and innovation. The guiding rationale of the Convergence Accelerator is that to achieve progress on scientific and societal challenges it is necessary to develop teams that can share expertise across research fields as well as with multiple partners and stakeholders, including the ultimate users of the research products.
NSF Program Directors have the primary responsibility for carrying out the Agency's overall mission to support innovative and merit-evaluated activities in fundamental research and education that contribute to the nation's technological strength, security, and welfare. They are also responsible for service to NSF-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 Scientific Federal Agency.
In support of these goals, NSF Program Directors are responsible for extensive interaction with academic research communities and industry, as well as interaction with other Federal agencies. 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. This requires expertise in appropriate disciplines to implement the proposal review and evaluation process for the program, as well as strong skills in written and oral communication. Successful candidates should be receptive to new ideas, have a strong sense of fairness, excellent judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.
The NSF Convergence Accelerator initially published a Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 19-050, that invited proposals for the NSF Convergence Accelerator Pilot. The tracks of the Pilot were based on existing NSF Big Ideas. Track A1 of the pilot, Open Knowledge Network, relates to the Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Big Idea. Track B1, AI and Future Jobs, and track B2, National Talent Ecosystem, relate to the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) Big Idea. The Convergence Accelerator made 43 awards to teams to participate in Phase 1 of the Pilot. Details for Phase II of the Convergence Accelerator were outlined in NSF 20-555 and 9 of the 43 teams were selected for Phase II. Most recently, NSF 20-565 was published for the 2020 Cohort of the Phase I Convergence Accelerator and 11 teams were funded for Track C – Quantum Technology and 18 teams were funded for Track D – AI-Driven Innovation via Data and Model Sharing. As part of the Convergence Accelerator project, all of the teams participate in an extensive innovation and team science curriculum conducted by a team of coaches.
The Program Director will be working with teams as they participate in the Convergence Accelerator innovation curriculum and work with external coaches that will be assigned to each team. The Program Director will also contribute to developing new activities and new funding opportunities for the Convergence Accelerator, and to the merit review process for new proposals. The successful applicant will work with other Convergence Accelerator team members as well as with other staff within OIA and across NSF, as appropriate, for example engaging with Big Idea activities around NSF.
This position is an unparalleled opportunity to ensure NSF funded activities are at the forefront of advancing research and education. The individual will work with other NSF Program Directors in formulating research strategies, developing collaboration and cooperation across the Foundation and among government, academe and industry, fostering outreach to underrepresented groups, and providing leadership within NSF and the innovation community.
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.
Candidates must have (1) a Ph.D. in any field supported by NSF, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position; OR (2) a Master’s degree in any field supported by NSF, plus after award of the Master’s degree, eight or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.
In addition, NSF is seeking people who are entrepreneurial in nature. Prior experience in roles related to the commercialization of innovative products, in small and/or large businesses, is sought. Specific experience with technology start-ups and/or small businesses, or with early-stage technology investments, is also of particular interest. Experience in interacting, leading, or working with researchers from a wide range of disciplines and leading, building or facilitating formation of teams to address complex research problems is also of particular interest. Cross-sector experience such as having worked in academia, industry, or government is also of particular interest. The position requires effective oral and written communication skills and a commitment to high standards of ethical conduct. The position also requires a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, attention to detail, good judgment and a high degree of personal integrity. The candidate is expected to function effectively as a member of crosscutting, fast-paced, and interactive teams with interest in and experience with multidisciplinary / convergence research. The candidate must also demonstrate a capability or potential to work across government agencies and other organizational boundaries to promote NSF activities and to leverage program funds through interagency collaborations.
Applications will be accepted from U.S. Citizens. Qualified individuals who are women, ethnic/racial minorities, and/or persons with disabilities are strongly urged to apply. No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability in hiring by the National Science Foundation. 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. This also applies to individuals considered for Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignments to NSF. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible.
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. https://www.nsf.gov/careers/Definition-of-Foreign-Talent-HRM.pdf
For additional information on NSF's rotational programs, please see "Programs for Scientists, Engineers, and Educators" on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/careers/.
To apply, email a single PDF document that includes: 1) a cover letter explaining the reasons you are interested in the position, 2) CV, and 3) Citizen affidavit, as applicable. The cover letter should describe how your experiences fit with the position of a Convergence Accelerator Program Officer (referencing the CV). It is preferred that application materials and questions be sent to the Convergence Accelerator Office via email to Convergence-Accelerator@nsf.gov with "Convergence Accelerator Program Director" in the subject line.