Research Director (Wharton Risk Center)

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA, United States 🇺🇸

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

School/Center Overview

The World’s First Business School


In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wharton’s pioneering vision was to produce graduates who would become ‘pillars of the state, whether in private or in public life.’ The Wharton School maintains a long tradition of educating visionary business leaders in academia, business, government, and not-for-profit organizations.

Today, Wharton has expanded the scope of this vision to become the most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world – with over 225 faculty members, 95,000 alumni, 5,000 students across 10 academic departments, 20 research centers, and more than 9,000 executive education participants annually.

Established in 1985, the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center develops and promotes effective public and private policies for dealing with a range of disaster risks. The Risk Center is a thought leader and a trusted source for independent analysis, workable tools, and implementable solutions. We are a voice for the public good, committed to resilience opportunities that benefit everyone. The Center achieves its vision through three broad groups of activities: (1) high-quality research, (2) our policy incubator, and (3) our outreach and translational work that better links research and practice through various bridging activities.


The Wharton Risk Center seeks a Research Director that is deeply committed and enthusiastic about policy-relevant research on risk management, resilience, risk financing, decision-making, and climate risk and adaptation topics. The Research Director will report to the Executive Director and play a key role in overseeing, managing, and developing Center research projects and activities. The ideal candidate will be an accomplished researcher, with experience managing research projects, supervising junior research staff, and fundraising for risk and resilience related research. The Center is expanding and we seek a Research Director that can think creatively and strategically about building up the Center’s portfolio of work.

The Research Director will be a PI on a subset of Center projects, will help set research directions for the Center, and help secure grant funding for Center work. This person will also work to engage faculty affiliates in Center projects. This person will oversee Center postdocs and research associates and work with the Executive Director on postdoctoral and other research staff hiring. They will also assist in the recruiting and managing of visitors. This person will be expected to maintain relationships with sponsors and research partners.

The Research Director will also be responsible for ensuring the website and other Center communications reflect the latest research activities. They will work with other Center staff on outreach and engagement strategies around our work. This person should be an effective communicator to wide and diverse audiences. Occasional travel for meetings, briefings, and conferences will be required.

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated thought leadership on topics related to the Center, be intellectually curious, and committed to linking knowledge and action. They will foster a collegial work atmosphere, support colleagues, and mentor junior staff. They will be exceptionally well-organized and have the ability to deliver high-quality work on a deadline.


Highly advanced professional discipline. Relevant PhD and minimum 5 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience is required.

  • Project management experience
  • Demonstrated expert in topics related to Risk Center work
  • Excellent communicator with experience writing for and presenting to diverse audiences
  • Very well organized and excellent time management 
  • Proven success in fundraising for research
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Exceptional writing skills

Affirmative Action Statement

Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements

Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

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