Associate Program Officer (Division on Earth and Life Studies)

The National Academy of Sciences

Washington, DC, US

Job Description Summary:

The Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS) consists of twelve units that facilitate communication among the research community, policy makers, industry, interest groups, and the public. DELS is responsible for a vast array of topics, ranging from the molecular level to the global level. The common thread linking the units is the broad topic of science and the environment, but the division also examines issues outside that area.



Job Description:

Opportunity to lead one or more projects addressing important national issues and working with top experts. Conducts research and prepares research papers and/or summaries. Tracks relevant issues and compiles reports. Coordinates program or project activities, handling inquiries, organizing meetings and workshops, and developing materials. Supervises or assists with the supervision of support staff. Ensures the program or project meets its stated objectives. May assist senior staff in the development of programs/projects, including developing prospectuses and raising funds.


Incumbent applies specific professional-level knowledge to solve problems requiring the identification and analysis of moderately complex variables. Incumbent takes action to solve routine problems in areas of assigned responsibility, but receives guidance or expertise from higher-level staff on more complex problems. Incumbent establishes processes and procedures to ensure the effective and efficient operation of program/project. Typically assist with supervision of staff, but certain positions may have full supervisory responsibilities for assigned staff.


Incumbent could be assigned to work on projects in the following boards:


The Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, which addresses climate change and impacts, air pollution, and severe weather. Our understanding of these issues directly affects the nation’s environmental policies, energy choices, manufacturing decisions, construction codes, and agricultural methods.


The Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, which identifies opportunities for advancing basic research and understanding of earth science information for policy decisions, reports on the applications of earth sciences to important societal issues, and addresses the overall health of research and education programs related to earth sciences and resources issues.


The Polar Research Board, which promotes excellence in polar science and provides independent scientific guidance to federal agencies and the nation on science issues in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and cold regions in general.


The Water Studies and Technology Board, which seeks to improve the scientific and technological basis for resolving important questions and issues associated with the efficient management and use of water resources



1. Leads assigned program(s) or project(s).  Where applicable and with senior staff oversight, recruits potential committee/panel nominees.  Communicates with and facilitates the flow of information among chair, members, consultants, program or project sponsors, and staff.  Prepares reports on program or project activities.  

2. Identifies and gathers research materials.  Conducts background research. Synthesizes and edits research findings and technical data.  Determines relevance of data and prepares background papers and technical summaries.  Manages reference checking.

3. Organizes meetings.  Develops agendas, invites presenters and participants, oversees meeting logistics and multimedia presentations, and prepares written summaries. 

4. Develops written materials and coordinates/oversees publication of materials.  May edit reports, facilitate response to review, and participate in dissemination activities, including identification and engaging of external organizations, preparing dissemination materials, and conducting dissemination meetings.

5. Assists with supervising and mentoring staff.  Assigns tasks and provides guidance and feedback to staff.  Ensures required training is accomplished and participates in performance reviews.  Serves as a resource to support staff.

6. Performs financial and administrative tasks related to assigned program(s) or project(s).  Creates, maintains, and updates records, databases, and files.  Authorizes expenditures, tracks spending, monitors budget, and projects future spending plans.

7. Represents the program/project within and outside the National Academies.   Collaborates with experts and sponsors from government agencies, foundations, schools, and other organizations. 

8. May assist in raising funds for current and future projects by conducting research on topics for new studies, writing proposals, and identifying potential sponsors.  Where applicable, participates in managing funder/member/alumni relations. 



Related duties and special projects as assigned.



Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: Knowledge of issues in applicable discipline, and ability to work effectively across multiple disciplines. Ability to solve varied and complex problems using originality and ingenuity. Ability to operate using appreciable latitude for independent judgment and action. Ability to work successfully in a team environment. Ability to develop relationships with coworkers and employees in other Academies’ departments through effective communication. Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal skills with a proven ability to effectively interact with all levels of employees.

Minimum Education/Training Requirements:  Bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent knowledge. 

Minimum Experience:  Three years of related professional experience.

Preferred Education and Experience:  Advanced degree in a related field.

Physical Capabilities:  Ability to work at a computer for extended periods of time.  Ability to travel.

Required Licenses, Certification or Registration:  None.

Supervisory Responsibilities/Controls:  Reports to program officer or director.  Sets objectives with supervisor and receives input and advice as needed.  Assists in the supervision of project/program staff.

Work Environment:  Office environment, with occasional travel between National Academies’ facilities and to off-site meeting/sponsor locations.

Any qualification to be considered equivalent, in lieu of stated minimum, requires the prior approval of the Office of Human Resources.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by employees assigned to this job. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. Some functions in this description may be specific to a particular unit of the National Academies and not applicable to other units.





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