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Director, Earth from Space Institute in Columbia, MD at Universities Space Research Association

Date Posted: 8/27/2018

Job Snapshot

Job Description

 Applications  will be accepted through September 30, 2018

The perspective of our home planet from the vantage point of space is unique, enabling repeated measurements of geophysical parameters on a continuous basis. This perspective is increasingly accessible, and the volume of Earth observation data from civil, commercial and defense space borne sources is growing at an ever faster pace. The challenge for scientists, engineers and applied users is to convert data into useful information that increases and applies our knowledge and understanding of the Earth system to make decisions for societal benefit.

USRA is establishing a new independent research Institute dedicated to the study of Earth from space. The Institute will seek to attract private funding from private and public sources including Foundations and Corporate sponsors, collaborating with Federal agencies and other Centers and Institutes, but not duplicating their efforts.  The Institute will bring together diverse and interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers and applied practitioners focused on Earth system science and applications topics enabled by space-based technologies.  

Position Summary:

The founding Director of the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) is responsible for leading the institute. This includes crafting and implementing a strategy to achieve the EfSI purpose, recruiting the initial scientific staff, communicating its activities, raising funds from private and federal sources, initiating studies to inform Federal agencies and the public, and leading symposia and workshops to bring together the community. 

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for day-to-day management, technical direction, and oversight of the Earth from Space Institute
  • Maintains a presence and initiates studies that bring together diverse and interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers and applied practitioners focused on Earth system science and applications topics enabled by space-based technologies  
  • Recognizes and leverages the Institute’s strengths to identify new opportunities and applications within the scope of the program and in consultation with appropriate stakeholders
  • Responsible for fund raising from both private and public sources to achieve the institute strategic goals. Knows market and contacts
  • Organizes annual meetings and symposia to bring together the scientific and technical communities in a collaborative forum to exchange scientific results, form collaborations and inform decision makers
  • Develops and maintain a high profile with sponsors and US academic institutions through participation on and leadership of review and advisory panels
  • Communicates knowledge and understanding of the Earth system to assist decision makers for societal benefit
  • Meets financial objectives by forecasting requirements; preparing an annual budget; scheduling expenditures; analyzing variances; initiating corrective actions
  • Ensures compliance with USRA corporate policies and procedures
  • Other job related duties as assigned



  • PhD in related scientific or technical fields



  • At least 20 years’ research in an Earth science discipline primarily utilizing data collected from space based assets
  • Experience with satellite remote sensing technologies, Earth science applications, Earth system modeling and data processing/big data 
  • Demonstrated experience leading scientific and technical teams
  • Recognized international reputation in Earth science discipline
  • Prior or current NASA or NOAA program leadership and experience highly desirable
  • Demonstrated fund raising ability highly desirable.


Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

  • Working knowledge of project scheduling tools and management
  • Knowledge of NASA missions, policies, and science organizations


  • Behave Ethically: Understand ethical behavior and business practices and ensure own behavior is consistent with these standards and aligns with the values of USRA
  • Build Relationships: Establish and maintain positive working relationships with others, both internally and externally, to achieve the goals of USRA. Excellent customer focus
  • Communicate Effectively: Speak publicly, listen and write in a clear, thorough and timely manner using appropriate and effective communication tools and techniques
  • Foster Teamwork: Work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, resolve problem, and make decisions that enhance fund raising effectiveness
  • Lead: Positively influence others to achieve results that are in the best interest of the organization.
  • Organize: Set priorities, develop a work schedule, monitor progress towards goals, and track details, data, information and activities
  • Plan: Determine strategies to move the organization forward, set goals, create and implement actions plans, and evaluate the process and results
  • Solve Problems: Assess problem situations to identify causes, gather and process relevant information, generate possible solutions, and make recommendations and/or resolve the problem


 Working Conditions:

This job operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage. This is largely a sedentary role


Position is eligible for telecommuting


Up to 30% travel

All interested candidates must apply directly on our website at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity