Executive Director, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Desert Research Institute - Las Vegas, NV

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The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is the environmental research arm of Nevada's System of Higher Education (NSHE). With greater than $50 million in annual revenue and ranking amongst the top 20 environmental research organizations in the US by the National Science Foundation, DRI strives to improve people's lives throughout Nevada and the world. At DRI, research activities and faculty salaries are funded almost entirely through competitively-awarded grants and contracts from federal, state, local, private, and international agencies. The State of Nevada, however, provides financial support for some administrative functions including this Executive Director position.

DRI is administratively organized into three research divisions: Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Hydrologic Sciences, and Atmospheric Sciences. The Institute also hosts four interdisciplinary centers in areas of projected growth, currently: Watersheds & Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Remediation and Monitoring, Clean Technology and Renewable Energy, and Applied Innovation for Advanced Analytics. DRI has two main research campuses, in Reno and Las Vegas, NV; with satellite facilities in Boulder City, NV and Steamboat Springs, CO. DRI also hosts a variety of specialized and support capabilities.

The Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences (DEES) supports a highly diversified research portfolio that includes biological, geological, and archaeological sciences. DEES' researchers come from a wide variety of scientific backgrounds but share a unifying interest in the causes, mechanisms, and history of environmental change over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Research problems range from future and extant to ancient, and settings include: natural and modified landscapes, ranging from polar to hot deserts and forests to agricultural lands; marine and fresh surface waters; aquifers; soils; the deep subsurface; and biota (including humans). Technical expertise within the Division includes molecular and microbial biology, ecology, wildlife, quaternary geology, processes geomorphology, soil science, geochronology, cultural heritage management, remote sensing, spatial modeling and GIS. The Division maintains several state-of-the-art research facilities, including the EcoCELL whole-ecosystem controlled-environment gas exchange facility, a luminescence geochronology lab, spatial analysis facilities, and (micro) biological and soil characterization labs. DEES faculty contribute to teaching in a number of programs at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) and the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) that include undergraduate classes and graduate (M.S. and Ph.D.) degree programs. Visit http://www.dri.edu/dees for more detailed information on DEES' research activities.

DEES has approximately 50 faculty and support staff and 50 graduate research assistants and hourly employees. Approximately two-thirds of DEES' personnel are located at the Northern Nevada Science Center (NNSC) in Reno, and the remainder at the Southern Nevada Science Center (SNSC) in Las Vegas. DEES conducts more than $10 million of research annually from a diversified sponsor portfolio, with an administrative operating budget of $1.6 million. The Division is afforded considerable autonomy in the allocation of funds for internal functions and initiatives.

Required Qualifications:
The DEES Executive Director reports to the Vice President for Research (VPR). Although the successful candidate can have their primary office in either Reno or Las Vegas, frequent travel between the two main DRI campuses is expected, and most weeks will require at least some time spent at the Reno campus. The primary function of the DEES Executive Director is to manage, facilitate, and grow divisional research activities, faculty and staff. Executive Directors are expected to apply scientific team leadership, program development/implementation, and managerial skills as described in more detail below.

  • Provide engaged and supportive direction to promote Divisional research capacity and professional development for faculty and staff.
  • Develop comprehensive knowledge of DEES' research portfolio and advocate for Divisional faculty and staff within DRI and to the public and funding entities.
  • Develop and implement strategies for building highly-competitive teams by leveraging the inherent strengths of the Division and fostering collaboration among faculty members from all DRI Divisions and scientists external to DRI.
  • Enhance the standing of the Division in the broader national and international research community.
  • Provide mentorship and cultivate working relationships with and between individual faculty and staff to maintain high morale and assist in program development.

    Research Program Development and Implementation
  • Interact with funding agencies to market DEES' capabilities, attract external research funds, and foster collaborative efforts with other institutions.
  • Track Division-wide trends in scientific products such as peer-reviewed publications, reports, proposals, and patents.
  • Promote the Division by understanding and integrating Divisional strengths and to identify areas of scientific growth and opportunity and by acquiring sufficient extramural funds to support this integration.
  • Strategically prioritize allocation of Divisional funds to facilitate development of externally-funded research by faculty.

    Management and Division Representation
  • Lead efforts in workforce planning and recruitment of top talent; develop strategies to enhance retention of faculty and staff through incentives that reward success.
  • Participate as a member of the DRI senior leadership team to develop, coordinate, and promote Institute-wide research activities and policy; contribute to the effective management of the Institute; support DEES' and Institute fund-raising activities; and assume other assignments, as assigned.
  • Collaborate with DRI and NSHE leadership to promote teaching opportunities and facilitate undergraduate and graduate research.
  • Work closely with the Division Business Manager to establish revenue projections, set budget priorities, allocate Division funds, and coordinate fiscal affairs with the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.
  • Ensure optimum utilization of existing equipment and facilities; prioritize on-going facilities' needs and advocate for additional resources where necessary including through the pursuit of extramural funding.
  • Address human resource issues and oversee employment actions such as hiring, annual evaluations of faculty, approval of staff evaluations, mentoring, and recommendations of faculty for promotions and awards.
  • Ensure compliance with DRI/NSHE policies and state/federal regulations.

  • Preferred Qualifications:
  • Ph.D. or equivalent graduate degree in archaeological, biological, Earth sciences, or a related field, or professional experience commensurate with an advanced degree.
  • Broad understanding of Earth and ecosystem sciences.
  • Evidence of success in building and leading research programs in governmental, private sector, or university settings, with specific experience in institutions and/or agencies that are funded through competitively awarded grants and contracts.
  • Evidence of significant scientific achievement including a record of peer-reviewed publications.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal, collaborative, and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated experience in managing fiscal budgets for similar sized organizations.
  • Evidence of management experience in supervising personnel, conducting performance appraisals, and managing conflict.
  • Any applicant must be a citizen of the United States and be able to obtain and maintain both US Department of Energy "Q" and US Department of Defense Top Secret clearances, which may require a background investigation by the Federal government with possible subsequent re-investigations.

  • Inspirational and energetic personality, capacity to build confidence and loyalty among team members.
  • Creativity in the identification of emerging research directions, and pursuit of new and visionary programs.
  • Demonstrable portfolio of relevant professional connections and relationships.

    The successful candidate will be offered the position contingent upon passing a mandatory test for the absence of any illegal drugs as defined in 10 CFR 707.4 as well as satisfactory credit, criminal and background checks.

    The individual who is offered and accepts this position must provide, within 30 working days of his/her start date of the position, a copy of the transcript(s) of the highest degree he/she acquired, as awarded by an accredited institute as recognized by the United States Department of Education and/or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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