JWST Mission Head

Job Summary

Science Management
Space Telescope Science Institute
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) seeks a new Mission Head to lead the James Webb Space Telescope Space Telescope Mission at STScI from our headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a world-class space-based astronomical observatory that was launched on December 25, 2021 and has already revolutionized many branches of astrophysics through imaging and spectroscopy to unparalleled depths at near- and mid-infrared wavelengths. STScI is the Science Operations Center (SOC) for JWST. The JWST Mission Head is responsible for leading the Mission office at STScI, overseeing science and flight operations, engaging the community, and ultimately maximizing the science return from the mission. STScI is looking for a dynamic leader with vision, creativity, and initiative to take charge of the Institute’s role in this important and high-profile mission and to serve as an advocate for the global community’s scientific success.

The role

As Mission Head, you will lead the JWST Mission office team and be responsible for the overall strategy to deliver JWST science and operations support at STScI. With a high-level perspective on the full JWST mission, you will be the Institute’s prime point of contact with the Project Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and other cooperating organizations. With the Institute Director, you will be an advocate for the community’s scientific stake in the success of the mission to NASA and to relevant national advisory committees. You will engage the scientific community and the general public. You will oversee the Institute’s JWST Mission Office to advance our support for science operations of one of the world’s most important astronomy missions.

As a member of the senior leadership team of STScI, you will work with other leaders to identify and exploit science-enhancing harmonies across our missions. You will set priorities to explore and deliver new technologies, services, and infrastructures that advance scientific discovery. You will advance STScI’s mission and vision, and support its goals of diversity, equity and inclusion.

By its nature, the JWST science community is broad, and we welcome candidates with a diverse mix of skills and backgrounds to apply.

We are looking for candidates who:

  • Have broad knowledge of current advances in astronomy and of the relevance of JWST’s capabilities to those fields. JWST generates complex imaging and spectroscopic datasets. You will take a leadership role in maximizing their scientific accessibility and utility by developing close partnerships among engineering teams, scientists, and the astronomical community and driving innovation.
  • Take responsibility for the overall execution, quality, and timeliness of all aspects of the Institute’s performance on the JWST mission. You will be responsible for system-level trade-off decisions involving STScI work elements within the framework of JWST mission requirements. You will be responsible for the allocation of funding to different parts of the STScI mission program as necessary to solve problems, reflect continuing development of the observatory, and respond to changing scientific applications of the observatory.
  • Communicate well, in multiple ways, and with diverse groups of people. You are able to work seamlessly with the full range of an organization, engaging effectively with individuals, teams, and management. You are comfortable representing the work of STScI to external partners such as government agencies (e.g. NASA, ESA, and CSA), advisory and oversight committees, and the scientific community. You will work with outreach specialists to communicate JWST’s science to the general public.
  • Take a strategic perspective to identify and advance high-level priorities. You will maintain a clear vision of the key scientific priorities for JWST and the JWST user community. You will serve as a strong advocate for the scientific success of the mission. You have demonstrated success in your past leadership roles.
  • Work effectively with multiple stakeholders, considering a range of interests. You can negotiate effectively with partners to reach positive outcomes for this high-profile mission.
  • Have a Ph.D., equivalent degree, or comparable experience in astronomy, computer science, engineering, or a related field. You will effectively utilize some of your working time for self-directed research.

How to apply

Applicants should submit the following materials in a single PDF file: a cover letter, a curriculum vitae and bibliography, a 2–3 page summary of current and future research or technical interests, and contact information for three professional references. Candidates should take advantage of the cover letter and the summary to describe their particular interest in leading JWST at STScI, a brief vision to use the role to advance scientific discovery, and expertise that would support their success in the position.

Please only use this link to apply: https://stsci.slideroom.com/#/permalink/program/77247

Applications received by March 15, 2024, will receive full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.

About STScI

Space Telescope Science Institute is the Science Operations Center for the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope and the forthcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. In addition, STScI runs the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, hosting data from optical, ultraviolet and infrared data from more than twenty missions, including JWST, HST, TESS, Kepler, K2, IUE and GALEX. STScI staff conduct world-class scientific research and partner with engineers, data scientists and outreach specialists to support, promote and publicize frontier science with our missions.

STScI occupies multiple sites surrounding the campus of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, MD. It maintains close connections with the JHU Physics and Astronomy Department and is a partner in the Pan-STARRS and Sloan Digital Sky Survey V consortia. The research environment engages, stimulates, and supports an international research staff with over 100 members. Research projects (www.stsci.edu/stsci-research www.stsci.edu/stsci-research) span a wide range of topics and include collaborations with postdoctoral researchers, research instrument analysts and JHU graduate students, as well as researchers from other institutions.

The diversity of the STScI staff enhances the dynamic and collegial atmosphere of our community and reflects our commitment to inclusivity in the broadest sense. Accordingly, women, minorities, veterans, and disabled individuals are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, STScI does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. Veterans, disabled or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at [email protected] . Salaries and benefits are commensurate with those of AURA member universities.

We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, STScI does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. Veterans, disabled or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at [email protected]. All employment is contingent on establishing eligibility to work in the United States, including obtaining an appropriate visa, if necessary.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Range
$200,000USD to $280,000USD
Included Benefits
  • Medical, dental, prescription, and vision
  • Employer-sponsored Retirement Plan: 10% direct company contribution
  • Vacation: Up to 5 weeks of paid vacation a year
  • Sick Leave: Up to 12 sick days a year
  • Paid Holidays: 8 regular holidays and 2 personal holidays
  • Employee Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan
  • Flexible Work Schedules / Telecommuting Options Available
  • Free Parking
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Employee Assistance Program

Company-paid Life, Short-term Disability, and Long-term Disability

Compensation Notes

Our Robust and Competitive Benefit Programs

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Feb 02
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 15
Reference Code


Christine Rueter