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Cosmic Origins News

15 July 2022

NASA Job Announcement: Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters

The Astrophysics and Heliophysics Divisions within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) are hiring one or more scientists each to serve as a civil servant Program Scientist at Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Program Scientist will work as part of a diverse and agile team whose core values encompass inclusion, excellence, integrity, transparency, teamwork and a growth mindset toward stewarding the nation’s space-based astrophysics program. The Science Mission Directorate is committed to a culture of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility where all employees feel welcome, valued, respected, and engaged. Applicants with all backgrounds and in all areas of astrophysics, including cosmic origins, exoplanet exploration, and physics of the cosmos, are encouraged to apply.


NASA’s Astrophysics Division is responsible for the United States’ space-based astrophysics program (https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics). With an astrophysics budget exceeding $1.55 billion annually, NASA leads the nation to explore the universe, determine how it began and evolved, and search for extrasolar planets.

NASA’s Astrophysics Program Scientists have broad responsibility for advancing NASA’s astrophysics portfolio; serving as the Headquarters science leads for one or more missions; developing and shaping multimillion-dollar scientific research grants programs selected through competitive peer review; and leading NASA’s implementation of the recommendations of the 2022 Decadal Survey “Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s.” Program Scientists have substantial influence over high-level astrophysics strategic planning, as well as leading the long-term scientific direction of missions and programs that they oversee.

Specifically, a Program Scientist within the Astrophysics Division will:

  1. Solve problems in implementing a balanced program across the breadth of astrophysics within technological, scientific, budgetary, and programmatic constraints. Provide solutions that are strategic and tactical, and are innovative as well as implementable, in alignment with the priorities of NASA.
  2. Orchestrate peer reviews that evaluate the scientific merit of proposals in all areas of astrophysics research across the thematic areas of the program (Physics of the Cosmos, Cosmic Origins, Exoplanet Exploration).
  3. Collaboratively define a long-term vision for the program and work as a team member to implement it in a fast-paced environment, while leading diverse teams using influence rather than supervisory authority.
  4. Communicate, engage, and build consensus with multiple stakeholders, including the scientific community, external advisory committees, senior NASA leaders, programs and projects at NASA Centers, and the public.
  5. Manage multiple responsibilities using effective time management and organizational skills.

NASA recognizes that candidates with non-traditional career paths, or individuals who are at earlier stages of their careers may have demonstrated experience in different ways. NASA encourages applications from such individuals.

Application Process

The job announcement will open for applications at https://www.usajobs.gov/ on Friday 22 July and will close on Tuesday 26 July, with announcement number HQ-22-DE-11497952-DS.

This is a fair and open competition that all U.S. Citizens and Status candidates can apply to. It will be a Direct Hire Authority (DHA) announcement through https://www.USAJobs.gov/, so it will only be open for 3 workdays. The short period that the announcement is open is due to the type of hiring authority, which streamlines the hiring process and assists with rapidly filling competitive positions. It is not a reflection of the openness of the position. Advance notice of the vacancy is being provided to allow interested scientists to prepare. To apply for this position, you will need to (i) submit your resume and a transcript and (ii) answer the screening questions and supplemental information through USAJobs.

Given the short period the announcement will be open, it is highly recommended to log into USAJobs well before the job announcement opens and build or update your resume to facilitate the timely submission of an application.

A transcript demonstrating that you meet the education requirements for a Federal physical scientist will be required at the time of application. Given the short period that the announcement will be open, it is a good idea to obtain a transcript in advance. While a transcript is the preferred proof of qualifying education, any of the following items will be accepted as proof of education:

  • An unofficial transcript,
  • A copy of an official transcript,
  • A copy of a degree (i.e. a picture or scan), or
  • A list of courses.

Candidates interested in being notified when this job opportunity is posted on USAJobs and opened for three days are encouraged to sign up for a notification using the features of the USAJobs website.

Further Information

If you would like to be considered for a position in the Astrophysics Division, please mention ‘Astrophysics Division’ in your application; if you would like to be considered for a position in the Heliophysics Division, please mention ‘Heliophysics Division’ in your application.

Candidates interested in this opportunity are encouraged, but not obligated, to contact NASA well in advance so they can make a well-informed decision on submitting an application during the short (3 day) window when the job opportunity will be open for applications. Questions about this anticipated opening for an Astrophysics Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters may be directed to Stefan Immler, Astrophysics Division, stefan.immler@nasa.gov, 202-531-9262.

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