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Director, GESTAR in Greenbelt, MD at Universities Space Research Association

Date Posted: 1/17/2019

Job Snapshot

Job Description

Applications  will be accepted through January 2nd, 2019

The Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research (GESTAR) is a cooperative agreement between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and Universities Space Research Association (USRA). The purpose of GESTAR is to conduct research collaboratively primarily within GSFC's Earth Sciences Division. The goals of this agreement are: 1) bring together NASA GSFC and external scientists to implement the NASA strategic goals in Earth Science; 2) build on the capabilities and strengths of participating organizations in Earth Science; 3) Provide organization and staffing flexibility to adapt to evolving research program needs; 4) increases the involvement of minority and women scientists in Earth Science research; and 5) facilitate access to student talent and provides opportunities for their participation in NASA programs. The team led by USRA includes Morgan State University (MSU), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), I.M. Systems Group (IMSG) and Global Science and Technology (GST) with an annual budget of ~$25M.


Position Summary:

The Program Director (PD) is responsible for the overall success of the GESTAR cooperative agreement including meeting research goals, technical implementation, staff recruitment and retention, teaming relationships, budget, and schedule. The PD also ensures staff professional development, employee learning, and performance management. The PD will serve as the primary point of contact to NASA and ensure the application of corporate resources to meet the Program’s technical and cooperative agreement requirements.  Most of the GESTAR research is performed onsite at GSFC with a USRA Program Management Office located onsite.

Work Scope Areas:

  • Global Modeling and Assimilation
  • Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes
  • Climate and Radiation
  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics
  • Cryospheric Sciences
  • Ocean Ecology
  • Hydrological Sciences
  • Biospheric Sciences
  • Planetary Environments
  • Microwave Instrument Technology
  • Information Science & Technology
  • Science Communication and visualization

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for day-to-day management, technical direction, and oversight of the GESTAR program.
  • Responsible for hiring and retaining a diverse, highly qualified staff, and for providing career coaching, growth and personal development for direct reports.
  • Sets the direction and strategy by providing guidance and support to management staff.
  • Provides day to day leadership to the staff and employees. Sets the tempo, provides direction and develops a team that is oriented to action.
  • Recognizes and leverages the program’s strengths to identify new opportunities and applications within the scope of the program and in consultation with appropriate stakeholders.
  • Works with the staff to develop a budget and pro forma financials. Creates a pro-growth and cost-conscience environment.
  • Ensures compliance with USRA corporate policies and procedures.
  • Other job related duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:


A PhD Degree in a relevant Science field is required.



  • At least 20 years’ experience in scientific discipline. A minimum of ten years' experience planning and administering complete projects, including supervisory experience.  •        
  • Experience with strategic planning and implementation. •        
  • Demonstrated experience leading scientific and technical teams •        
  • Extensive experience in a relevant area of research and a proven ability to publish top quality books and/or peer reviewed journal articles. •        
  • Demonstrated experience in writing successful proposals to Federal funding agencies.
  • Experience in dealing with/contacts with federal agencies that deal with science (e.g. NASA, NSF, NOAA).
  • Knowledge of administrative procedures, such as budgeting, hiring and supervision.
  • Excellent oral, written, and presentation skills (both technical and non-technical), with an emphasis on presentation of complex scientific concepts to non-scientific audiences, and proven communication skills with management staff, contacts at federal agencies, and university administrators.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

  • Working knowledge of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)
  • Understanding of Risk Identification and Mitigation management processes
  • Understanding of financial and business processes and metrics
  • Team management, communications and supervisory skills
  • Good oral and written presentation skills


  • 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.



  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.

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


Approximately 10% 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