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Senior Vice President, Science (916-100)

Universities Space Research Association Columbia Full-Time
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USRA is a private, nonprofit corporation founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences. USRA's chartered purpose is the development and application of space- related science, technology and engineering. USRA develops and manages facilities and programs conducting research, education, and operations under contract with Federal agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.

USRA's annual 2018 fiscal year revenues were over $160M. USRA employs approximately 500 regular staff. More than 60% of USRA employees have advanced technical degrees, and nearly 40% hold PhDs.

USRA works across a wide range of research disciplines, including astrophysics, lunar and planetary science, Earth science and remote sensing, space exploration technology, aeronautics, computer science, and autonomous systems. USRA is helping to enable the study of the universe from ground, airborne, and orbiting observatories; the study of Earth from space-based and airborne platforms; the study of our solar system; the development of leading-edge technologies for spacecraft and aviation; and the human exploration of space. USRA is also working to ensure an adequate technical workforce into the future, managing education programs at the K-12, college, graduate, and post-doctoral levels. Key to USRA's mission is the role of universities. In 2018, researchers from over 200 academic institutions were directly involved in USRA activities. Universities are also a part of USRA's governance structure: 111 universities, all major research institutions, provide oversight solely as a public service. All USRA activities are conducted without bias or preference.

USRA is a 501(c)(3) Federal tax-exempt organization

Position Summary:

The Senior Vice President (SVP), Science will lead USRA's Science organization, which consists of institutes and programs in astrophysics, lunar and planetary science, Earth sciences, and education. The SVP is responsible for all aspects of program operations, including technical performance, subcontractor oversight, personnel management, safety, ethical standards, compliance with all laws and regulations, and financial performance. FY18 revenues of this organization exceeded $100M, employing roughly 300 full-time staff.

The primary funding sources for the Science organization are NASA's Ames Research Center; Goddard Space Flight Center; Johnson Space Center; Marshall Space Flight Center; and Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. The SVP is responsible for the continued operation and long-term growth of the Science organization and for working collaboratively with USRA's Technology organization, led by a separate SVP. He or she must also work collaboratively with other members of USRA's Executive Leadership Team. This includes working with the Vice President, Strategy and Program Development to articulate and implement strategies, develop and maintain a robust pipeline of work, pursue new programs, and respond to requests for proposals that position the organization for long-term growth.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

This executive will:

  • Lead the USRA Science organization, applying a sophisticated understanding of science and technology-and its applications-within the broader space research and scientific communities.
    • Grow the Science organization, consistent with USRA's mission and purpose.
    • Interact effectively at the senior-most levels of government, academe, and industry.
  • Exercise skill and diplomacy at engaging and enabling university participation in space-related research and development.
  • Expand government, university, industry, and general public awareness of USRA's scientific and technical capabilities through visible participation in the space research community, relevant professional societies, and industry associations.
  • Develop strategic science goals and objectives, analyze and anticipate relevant trends and their implications, and contribute significantly to the USRA strategic planning process.
  • Develop and execute strategies that are co-aligned with the appropriation and budgeting processes of the federal government.
  • Develop professional relationships with university, industry, and government leaders, and be recognized as a professional resource to them.
  • Work with USRA's (external) Science Councils to assure quality operations of USRA's constituent institutes and programs.
  • Work effectively with a capable and highly motivated USRA headquarters functional support staff.
    • Travel as necessary to fulfill these Position Responsibilities.

Required Qualification


  • Possess an advanced degree in a technical discipline; Ph.D. preferred.

Desired Experience:

The successful candidate will:

  • Have demonstrated outstanding leadership and management of a diverse, highly competent R&D organization, preferably in support of NASA, NSF, and/or other federal agencies.
  • Possess extensive knowledge of and established relationships with NASA and NSF.
  • Understand the academic research environment, how the university community contributes to space-related R&D, and how to engage that community effectively.
  • Have experience interacting on Capitol Hill.
  • Possess excellent written and oral communication skills, and experience interacting with the media.
  • Have an impeccable reputation for excellence, integrity, and accountability.
  • Model USRA's core values:
  • Passion-for science, technology and education;
  • Partnerships-with universities, governments, and the private sector; and
  • Professionalism-through excellence, accountability, and respect for others.


  • A fully competitive package of compensation and benefits will be offered.


  • Travel as needed

Applicants should apply to the posting at URL blocked - click to apply and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Review of candidates will begin immediately. Additional information on USRA can be found at URL blocked - click to apply.

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


Skills required

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Job ID: 916-100


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USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

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