Director, NSO

Job Summary

Science Management
AURA/National Solar Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) seeks a new Director for the National Solar Observatory (NSO). NSO provides forefront observational facilities for the solar research community. NSO has a professional staff of approximately 130 people, which includes scientists, engineers, technicians, outreach specialists, administrative personnel, and other support staff. NSO brings together visionary solar physics, innovative engineering, outstanding operations, and public outreach to generate and disseminate world-class solar science.

The successful candidate will show potential for leading a project-oriented organization of similar size and complexity. A significant advantage would be a demonstrated record of accomplishment in a science leadership role for a complex geographically-distributed project or other major facility that involves facility construction, operations, management, and engineering. The candidate will have a record of experience with strategic planning, budgetary planning, and financial management in alignment with sound business practices.

AURA is committed to developing and maintaining a dynamic, diverse, inclusive, safe, and accessible NSO workplace which values collaboration, enables service, and encourages innovation as well as scientific and technical excellence. The new Director should support these goals, and demonstrate the ability and commitment to create a collaborative organizational culture that enables successful project outcomes. Demonstrated skills in critical analysis, problem solving, and conflict resolution will be crucial. A commitment to staff professional development is also required.

The Director should have the ability to articulate a broad scientific vision, and have established a strong record of achievement and leadership, preferably in solar physics or a closely-related field. The new Director should continue to work with the community to ensure use of existing facilities, identify potential new facilities, carry out studies for them, and to partner broadly to enable such activities.

NSO, based in Boulder, CO, is managed by AURA under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation. NSO provides forefront observational facilities for the solar research community, including the recently-completed Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, a collaboration of 22 institutions. The Inouye Telescope, located on Maui in Hawaii, is the largest and most advanced solar telescope in the world, with unprecedented abilities to show details of the Sun. Using adaptive optics technology on a 4-meter telescope, it probes physical processes that link the Sun to the Earth. The Inouye data will set the stage to develop enhanced predictive capabilities of explosive solar events that drive geomagnetic storms. This innovative facility will also further our understanding of other stars by allowing scientists to study fundamental physical processes that occur on their surfaces.

NSO also hosts an integrated synoptic program (NISP) and the NSO Community Science Program (NCSP).  The two key components of NISP are the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun (SOLIS) and the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG). SOLIS observes the Sun over decades to understand the solar activity cycle, solar irradiance changes, and energy releases in the solar atmosphere. GONG — a six-station network of extremely sensitive solar imagers located around Earth — provides continuous imaging of the Sun and its solar magnetic field. The GONG network has been identified as a crucial national asset for space weather operational forecasting.  NCSP develops analysis and modeling tools that will enhance the value of data taken with Inouye and NISP.

The NSO Director is responsible for the overall operation of the NSO within AURA and NSF policies and guidelines. The Director leads all aspects of NSO. The Director must be adept at interacting with multiple stakeholders, including representatives of NASA, NOAA, international partners, leaders of industry, members of Congress, the leadership of the host institution University of Colorado, the broad solar physics and geophysics communities, AURA’s Board and oversight council, NSO staff, and the public at large.

At the same time, the new NSO Director should have demonstrated the skills and experience critical for administration and management (including effective delegation, prioritization, and problem-solving abilities), and be adept in organizational and international relations. The successful candidate will possess excellent communication and negotiation abilities.

The Search Committee will begin evaluating applications on 30 April 2023, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Applications will be held in confidence. Interested applicants are requested to submit an application package (PDF preferred) containing: a letter providing a summary of the candidate’s interest in the position as well as a brief vision for NSO; an overview of the candidate’s relevant experience and accomplishments; a curriculum vitae/resume; and a list of at least three references. The Search Committee also welcomes nominations.

Materials and nominations should ONLY be submitted to [email protected], addressed to:

Dana Longcope, Chair

NSO Director Search Committee, c/o AURA

1331 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 1475

Washington, DC 20004

AURA/NSO sees the diversity of our staff as a strategic priority in our desire to create a first-rate scientific community. We reflect that deep commitment in strongly encouraging women, minorities, veterans and disabled individuals to apply for these opportunities.

Salary Range: $265K- $290K.   Exact compensation may vary based on skills, experience, and location.  AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off, health and welfare benefits, and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment. Details on benefits can be found at

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated including being up to date on boosters, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment. Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed. This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Mar 17
Application Deadline
2023 Apr 30
Reference Code