Nov 20, 2018

Behavioral Scientist (Program Director)

  • National Science Foundation
  • Alexandria, VA, USA
Full time Behavioral Behavioral Neuroscience Cognitive Cognitive Neuroscience

Job Description

The National Science Foundation is seeking qualified candidates for a Behavioral Scientist (Program Director) position in the Cognitive Neuroscience Program, within the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE), Alexandria, VA.

For more information on SBE click here.

For more information on BCS click here


The Cognitive Neuroscience Program focuses on highly novel theories, techniques and models directed toward enabling basic scientific understanding of a broad range of issues involving brain, cognition, and behavior. Applicants for the Program Director position are expected to be knowledgeable about the frontiers of cognitive neuroscience research including different data collection and stimulation techniques, multivariate and machine learning approaches, and integration of data across spatial and temporal dimensions. Familiarity with related developments in computational modeling, neuroinformatics, cyberinfrastructure, and open science are advantageous. The Program highly values the exploration of new methodologies, utilization of the latest analytic approaches, and the convergence of cutting edge techniques for addressing basic questions about human cognition.

Program Director responsibilities include long-range planning and budget development for the Program, the administration of the merit review process and proposal recommendations, identification of strengths and weaknesses in a given field, assisting with preparation of press releases, feature articles and material describing advances in the research supported by the Program, and coordination and liaison with other programs in NSF, other Federal agencies and organizations.

NSF Program Directors have an unparalleled opportunity and responsibility for carrying out the agency's mission to support research through a merit review process that promotes the progress of science, advances national welfare, and secures the national defense. The Program Director should have deep and broad knowledge of Cognitive Neuroscience, be committed to high standards, be receptive to new ideas, have good inter-personal skills, value fairness, and hold a high degree of personal integrity.

Additional duties and responsibilities include:

•    Maintains a healthy balance of support for all the needs of the research and education enterprise through program, division, directorate, Foundation, or interagency activities.

•    Manages program resources to provide optimal appropriate scientific judgment to insure integrity and consistency in the grant/declination process without conflict of interests, and with balance among appropriate sub-fields and institutions, and participation of all qualified scientists.

•    Incorporates cross-directorate responsibilities into program administration.

•    Provides scientific expertise, evaluation and advice for other programs in NSF, including international programs, and other research programs, and cross-directorate programs.

•    Advises and assists in the development of short-and-long range plans, establishing goals and objectives for support of research programs.

•    Plans the budget for the program/programs considering past, present and future fiscal years, allocates resources within the budget by distributing scarce resources among major competitive programs, and manages post-award evaluation.

•    Controls waste, fraud and abuse.

•    Represents the Program, Division and the Foundation within the scientific community, accurately reflecting NSF policy and positions.

•    Creates and maintains linkages to other NSF units and other Federal agencies in pursuit of the overall NSF mission.

•    Participates in staff, panel, committee and other meetings, providing input relevant to program area and/or Division.

•    Pursues affirmative action and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) goals.

•    Pursues and/or is responsive to assignment on special projects and temporary function teams across the Foundation to solve problems, improve staff communication, and effect coordination for special programs.

•    Contributes ideas and effort to improving the quality of policies and NSF's performance of the overall mission.  

•    Develops policies and plans for strengthening support of research and education programs.

•    Provides information to the community on how NSF is pursuing its mission and gathers data and impressions from the community on the effectiveness of NSF's performance of its mission.

•    Prepares and disseminates a variety of informational documents which may include data on progress being made toward NSF goals, trends and opportunities, and budget plans.

•    Establishes contacts and maintains active involvement in Program and related areas through participation in professional activities.

•    Maintains familiarity with salient current research developments.

•    Pursues individual research as workload and travel funds permit.

•    Expands administrative capabilities through training courses or assumption of new management.

Conditions of Employment

  • Background investigation.
  • Selective Service registration required for male applicants, unless exempt.

You will need to successfully complete a background security investigation before you can be appointed into this position.

All online applicants must provide a valid email address. If your email address is inaccurate or your mailbox is full or blocked, you may not receive important communication that could affect your consideration for this position.

This position is in the bargaining unit.

Please preview "Evaluations" section and "Qualifications" for additional requirements.


Applicants must possess a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Biology, Computer Science, Engineering or related fields, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position. Experience and expertise in basic research areas relevant to the goals of BCS and other programs such as Perception, Action, and Cognition would be especially beneficial.

In addition to above qualifications, the ability to organize, implement and manage a proposal-driven grant program, allocate resources to meet a spectrum of goals and insure transparency and accountability in the grant award/declination management process is highly desired. Candidates should be able to communicate effectively and work productively with the scientific community, peers and co-workers at all levels to advocate program policies and plans and to fulfill NSF's mission.

This position is outside the competitive civil service.

You must meet eligibility and qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


National Science Foundation


Cognitive Neuroscience

Reference Number


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