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Our Astrobiology Graduate Program has an outstanding opportunity for a Program Operations Specialist to provide administrative support to the Astrobiology Program Director, Professor Meadows, who also leads the NASA Virtual Planetary Laboratory research group.
The UW Astrobiology Program is a national leader in astrobiology training, and provides a rigorous course of study that enables our graduates to become leaders in laying the scientific foundation required for the search for life beyond the Earth. UW Astrobiology Program alumni go on to careers in academia and research, and have taken on leadership roles in NASA missions and mission concepts to search for life on Mars, Europa and exoplanets. The coordinated graduate student program is massively interdisciplinary, spanning 4 colleges and 11 departments. Astrobiology Program students engage in additional training over that expected from their home department, and complete interdisciplinary classes, laboratory rotations, seminar series and workshops. This program currently supports 31 students and 21 faculty.
Prof. Meadows also leads the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, one of the largest research teams participating in the NASA Nexus for Exoplanet Systems Science research coordination network. She is also a co-Lead for the NExSS Research Coordination Network, and has significant responsibilities for community leadership in the external astrobiology community, including participation on NASA advisory boards and National Academies committees. Her VPL research group focuses on the interactions between stellar, planetary and planetary system characteristics that can potentially lead to extrasolar planets capable of supporting life, and using models of these interactions, along with laboratory and field data, to understand the best way to detect signs of habitability and life on extrasolar planets. The interdisciplinary VPL comprises 75 researchers at 20 different institutions nationally and internationally, and is a $9.8M research effort over 5 years. The administration of the majority of the project's funding is through the UW, which supports 8 subcontracts with external organizations. The VPL will re-proposed to NASA in mid-2022 for a further 5 years of funding.
This position will assist the Program Director in Academic Program administration for the Graduate Certificate and Dual-Title PhD in Astrobiology, including time scheduling, student admissions, records management, coordination of PhD milestones with students and faculty, and other administrative support of students and faculty for courses and workshops.
Additionally, the position will be responsible for fiscal and other administrative tasks for both the Astrobiology Graduate Program, and the VPL research group, including development of the project budget, management of the associated subcontracts and preparation of the yearly annual report to NASA. The position will also be required to assist Prof. Meadows in managing the scientific research activities of the VPL, including coordinating and managing collaborative meetings and internal research workshops, task tracking and long-range planning, as well as assisting with activities in support of the broader astrobiology community, such as conference organization. The position will also be required to assist Prof. Meadows in preparing and submitting proposals for scientific funding. The position will also support travel logistics and bookings for student and faculty travel, travel reimbursements, purchase requests, and web page support for both the VPL and UW Astrobiology Program.
POSITION COMPLEXITIES The position will be responsible for a wide variety of administrative tasks at various levels of complexity from routine to highly skilled, with a degree of individual initiative as determined by the Director. The position will be responsible for overseeing budget development and implementation, including high level interactions with funding sponsors. The position will work with the Director and Astrobiology faculty to improve practices and procedures for the dual-title PhD program.
POSITION IMPACT Position will provide an organized and professional interface for the Astrobiology Program to internal and external communities. The position will interface with our students for academic management. For budget development and management, the position will be required to interface with NASA HQ, in addition to providing the primary administrative interface with our subcontractee organizations such as Harvard, Yale, Caltech, the University of Chicago and the University of Maryland. The position will also be primarily responsible for organization and management of education and public outreach activities for the program, in addition to interacting with UW development and fundraising organizations. The position will also be the first point of contact for members of the public and the external scientific community when interacting with the program.
RESPONSIBILITIES Provide Professor Meadows with administrative support for the UW's Astrobiology Graduate Program, the NASA Virtual Planetary Laboratory research group and other community activities led by Prof. Meadows. This includes administration of fiscal reporting/tracking, including primary responsibility for coordination and maintenance of fiscal record files and fiscal report systems for grants, contracts and subcontracts (may include setting up and closing budgets, and budget development and projections for an $11M research project). Monitor, prepare, and execute monthly reconciliation. Process purchase requests through various systems.
Support the Director with Academic Program administration, including primary responsibility for time scheduling, student admissions administration, records management, coordination of PhD milestones with the students and faculty, and other administrative support of the faculty and students for Astrobiology courses and degrees. Provide information on the status of the program to the Director. The position will work with the Director and Astrobiology faculty in developing long-term planning and improved practices and procedures for the dual-title PhD program.
Assist the Principal Investigator with research management for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory. This includes organizing and managing collaborative meetings and internal research workshops, and assisting the PI with long-range planning and the development of techniques and processes to enhance interdisciplinary research interactions. The position will take a major role in the coordination of inputs and preparation of the VPL Annual Report to NASA. The position will be primarily responsible for the collection and collation of student and faculty contributions to the report, as well as scientific editing and proofreading.
Proposal preparation and submission. The position will also assist the PI with identifying appropriate funding sources, and developing science proposals in support of the program. This position may be called upon to serve as proposal manager for the larger VPL reproposal effort. May also be responsible for development of EPO or teaching proposals to support the UW Astrobiology program. This is in addition to the routine administrative responsibilities related to proposal submission and post-award administration.
Travel and logistical management for scientific collaboration, conference and field trip related travel for faculty, students and visitors. Position will be expected to make travel bookings and provide logistical support for major astrobiology conferences, astrobiology PhD field workshops and lab rotations for students, community workshops organized by the VPL research group, and as part of the NExSS RCN collaboration, and support of the VPL PI for programmatic meetings at NASA HQ and elsewhere.
Public relations for the program and the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, including planning roles in the organization and publicity for public lectures, community social events and fund-raising activities, and web page support.
Other general administrative duties as assigned including the creation and proofreading/editing of professional correspondence in various forms.
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, Engineering, Business or Administration AND two years working experience, accounting-related software and/or computer skills.
Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except when there are legal requirements, such as a license/certification/registration.
Experience with Microsoft Office Suite
Excellent written and verbal communication skills including editing/proofreading.
Flexibility and the ability to multi-task.
Can set and adjust priorities as necessary in a dynamic environment while working with students, faculty, administrators, and university officials.
Able to gain confidence of senior leadership.
Superior organizational skills to manage daily and long term projects.
Fast and enthusiastic learner.
DESIRED: Interdisciplinary research or project management experience. Use of project management software. Experience with scientific proposal preparation. Experience with scientific conference management. Previous experience with UW fiscal management and academic data systems.
Application Process: The application process for UW positions may include completion of a variety of online assessments to obtain additional information that will be used in the evaluation process. These assessments may include Work Authorization, Cover Letter and/or others. Any assessments that you need to complete will appear on your screen as soon as you select “Apply to this position”. Once you begin an assessment, it must be completed at that time; if you do not complete the assessment you will be prompted to do so the next time you access your “My Jobs” page. If you select to take it later, it will appear on your "My Jobs" page to take when you are ready. Please note that your application will not be reviewed, and you will not be considered for this position until all required assessments have been completed.
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