NCAR Associate Director/Lab Director, Research Applications Laboratory (RAL)

NCAR is excited to announce an opening for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Associate Director/Lab Director position at the Research Applications Laboratory (RAL). As one of NCAR’s seven laboratories, RAL conducts fundamental and use-inspired actionable Earth system sciences research and engineering to discover solutions to problems relevant to society and facilitates the transfer of our information, expertise, and technology to the public and private sectors.

Reporting to the NCAR Director, this position carries a dual title and role of Director of the Laboratory and NCAR Associate Director. The Lab Director role is responsible for the scientific vision, direction, productivity, innovation capacity, and overall excellence of RAL’s research and development programs, including the formulation and implementation of strategic plans, budgets, and priorities of the lab. These responsibilities are carried out in coordination with the NCAR Director and in close alignment with the NCAR strategic plan and other programmatic priorities. The Lab Director fosters interaction and collaboration between NCAR and UCAR staff and programs as well as the external scientific community. The role of NCAR Associate Director affords responsibility for the overall leadership and management of NCAR. NCAR Associate Directors support the NCAR Director on NCAR-wide matters and act in the best interest of NCAR rather than a particular lab. They serve on the NCAR Executive Committee, foster collaboration across NCAR, may serve as Acting NCAR Director in the absence of the NCAR Director, and can lead initiatives that are NCAR-wide.


Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, NCAR is devoted to research, education, and service in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences. NCAR's mission is to understand the behavior of the atmosphere and related Earth and geospace systems; to support, enhance, and extend the capabilities of the university community and the broader scientific community, nationally and internationally; and to foster the transfer of knowledge and technology for the betterment of life on Earth.


Location: Boulder, CO

Job Type: This position is open to candidates seeking in-person and/or hybrid (combination virtual and on-site presence) positions. The duties of this position do not permit it to be fully remote.

Position Type: Full-Time, 5-year term with the possibility of renewal

Procedure for Candidacy:

The Isaacson, Miller firm is assisting NCAR in this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Application materials will be received using Isaacson, Miller's candidate portal until filled.

Candidates should provide a curriculum vitae, a letter of application that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in this Leadership Profile, and a Diversity Statement (which includes your approach to building a psychologically safe environment and describes metrics for knowing if psychological safety is achieved, and which provides examples where you built diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments on project and programs that you led).

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to the Isaacson, Miller consultants supporting this search

This position offers a hiring salary range of $196,726 to $245,907. The final salary will be based on education, experience, skills relevant to the role, and internal equity. Information about UCAR's benefits can be found at:

Work Authorization: UCAR/NCAR will sponsor a work visa (e.g., J-1, H1-B, etc.) for this position. U.S. Citizenship, Permanent Residency, or other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3) is required for this position.  

Relocation Assistance: Relocation assistance is offered for this position.

Pre-employment screenings are conducted for selected candidates; background checks are also conducted for risk-based positions. Learn more.


Here is a summarized outline of key responsibilities that one would expect to be responsible for in this role. 

Key Responsibilities:

NCAR Leadership and Management Team

  • As a member of the NCAR Executive Committee, formulates institutional programs, practices, and priorities to ensure the integrity of NCAR technical leadership and the organization's role in the science community; prioritizes technical and scientific initiatives within NCAR.
  • Fosters high-quality programs through collaboration among NCAR staff, with inclusion of the university community and other stakeholders, as appropriate.
  • Partners effectively with the NCAR Director and senior management in establishing and implementing strategic goals aligned with NCAR strategic priorities. Supports and ensures implementation of NCAR Directorate. The committee collaboratively formulates institutional programs, practices, and priorities that ensure the integrity of NCAR science and its role in the science community and also prioritizes scientific initiatives within NCAR.
  • Serves on the NCAR Executive Committee, which is composed of: NCAR Director and Deputy Director, NCAR Associate/Lab Directors and Senior Leaders in the NCAR Directorate.
  • Fosters an actionable Earth system science approach that includes interdisciplinary programs by stimulating and facilitating coordinated science across NCAR laboratories and the broader research community.

RAL Laboratory Leadership

  • Provides scientific leadership and direction for the success of RAL. Develops and implements the strategic vision for the laboratory.
  • Ensures workforce diversity and excellence; cultivates a positive, equitable, and inclusive culture across a remote, in-person, and hybrid workplace environment.
  • Excels at attracting external funding and managing a matrix-based laboratory.
  • Upholds and strengthens a sound management structure, ensuring compliance with UCAR policies, procedures, and practices while enabling RAL to achieve effective, performance-based management.
  • Fosters high-quality research through collaboration across RAL programs and NCAR staff, with inclusion of the broader university research community and other stakeholders, as appropriate.
  • Develops new national and international programs and funding sources in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, universities and other institutions. Channels national and international community inputs into the NCAR planning process. NCAR strategic initiatives.
  • Leads proactive development of the future STEM workforce within RAL, in partnership with NCAR labs and NCAR Education, Engagement, and Early-Career Development (EdEC), and promotes lab-specific training on entrepreneurship.
  • Ensures the laboratory meets diversity, equity, and inclusion goals identified from the Workplace Culture Survey and outlined in NCAR and UCAR Strategic Plans. Supports partnership with minority-serving institutions across the center.


Successful candidates will ensure their application materials speak to the following criteria:

Education & Experience

  • While a Ph.D. in a science discipline relevant to the NCAR mission and at least 10 years of experience leading and managing complex science programs are highly desired, we are seeking candidates with an outstanding record of accomplishment in the broader Earth sciences and especially the application thereof to solve societally-relevant problems. National and/or international recognition as a scientific leader and innovative entrepreneur is highly desired. The new Lab Director will have demonstrated successful leadership and development of externally funded partnerships, management of complex scientific research and technical development, operational implementation of practical solutions towards mitigating weather and climate sensitivities, and personnel activities; success working with a broad range of constituencies; breadth of interest, vision, and judgment; advanced communication, organizational, and change management skills; and a strong commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion. Demonstrated success and achievement in management is required.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

  • Successful experience leading soft-funded research groups/organizations with a focus on a healthy, harmonious workplace environment.
  • Strong program development skills, this includes strengthening existing programs as well as supporting the development of innovative new programs; demonstrated ability to develop long-term funding partnerships.
  • Strong reputation of being a good manager of people.
  • Demonstrated advocacy of applied research.
  • Demonstrated success collaborating with a broad range of constituencies, such as the academic research community, appropriate government agencies (especially NSF, DOE, DOT, USGS, NOAA, NASA, NIH), public and private institutions, and foundations and philanthropic organizations; ability to engage and motivate stakeholders toward shared goals and outcomes that can enhance the distinctive competence and reputation of NCAR and UCAR; comfortable engaging with a wide range of sponsors (public, foreign, and private).
  • Skill in strategic planning and implementation, budget development and deployment, and human resource planning across a range of job types and expertise to achieve broad goals and objectives.
  • Advanced skills in assessing priorities among research, operations, and research facility objectives; demonstrated results in achieving high quality programs that integrate and complement the efforts of the broader atmospheric and Earth system science community for the benefit of society.
  • Strong communication skills, including the ability to represent NCAR in public, to effectively engage across disciplines and spanning career stages, to engage diverse people and audiences individually and collectively, to write and speak in a compelling manner, and to listen effectively.
  • Demonstrated skill in interpersonal relationships and emotional intelligence.
  • Advanced organizational and change leadership skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and appreciation of diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion at all levels; demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in the atmospheric and Earth system science community, and to supporting educational engagement initiatives.
  • Demonstrated commitment to ethics, transparency, and integrity as the cornerstone of effective leadership.
  • Significant record of scientific or technical achievement in understanding actionable Earth system science and the application thereof for the benefit of society; advanced knowledge in several of the following areas: water, agriculture, energy, transportation, air quality, wildfires, evolving climate conditions, and benefits assessment.
  • Breadth of interest, vision, and judgment, demonstrated through the successful management of innovative research and/or technological development, implementation of practical solutions for the benefit of society, and through effective service on national or international boards and committees dealing with science and public policy goals, strategies, organization, and management.
  • Experience achieving goals in a competitive environment and an ability to understand and apply business tools and disciplines to achieve the mission of NCAR.
  • Demonstrated experience working effectively and collaboratively with scientists, software engineers, and technical and administrative staff, with respect for diverse areas of expertise and breadth of approaches needed to execute a successful science program.

DESIRED, but not required

  • International recognition as a leader in one or more areas of the laboratory’s research and technical areas, as demonstrated by a current professional record of considerable depth and breadth on topics relevant to the laboratory’s strategic mission, research, and goals.


Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Our organization is committed to creating a diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive work environment and fostering a culture where everyone feels welcome and supported. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan and our Diversity & Inclusion: A Welcoming Workplace site. 

Research shows that women and people of color are less likely to apply for a position if they do not meet almost 100% of the desired skills and experience. Please note that this is not necessary. If you meet the minimum requirements and have a passion for the work, you are encouraged to apply. We can provide on-the-job training for the rest.

Inclusive Benefits

UCAR affirms its commitment to employees through competitive benefits. Beyond rich medical, dental, vision, and life insurance offerings, as well as employee assistance and backup dependent care, UCAR offers the following benefits: 

  • Company contributes 10% of gross pay into retirement; 100% fully vested on day one
  • Starting minimum of 36 days of personal time off 
  • 10 paid holidays
  • 10 days of sick leave every year
  • 14 weeks of paid parental leave
  • Tuition assistance and other professional development opportunities
  • EcoPass for local Colorado residents to use the Denver and Boulder-area transit system at no cost

Flexible Work

At UCAR, we are committed to supporting our mission by giving staff the flexibility to find the schedule and location that works best for them to maintain their own work-life circumstances and to reach their full potential as professionals. Many positions within our organization are eligible for fully on-site, hybrid, fully remote, and/or flexible work schedules.

Employee Well-being & Vaccines

In support of the health of our employees and their families, as well as visitors and the community, all UCAR employees are required to comply with UCAR’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, which requires staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, subject only to legally required accommodations implemented by HR, prior to their start date.

Equal Opportunity Employer

UCAR is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment and does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or pregnancy. Whatever your intersection of identities, you are welcome at UCAR.

Export Control

This position is subject to work location requirements for obtaining access to facilities and research systems. These requirements may include a combination of national security checks, credit checks, fingerprinting, and/or other security clearance requirements. This position is open to U.S. citizens and Green Card holders.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer that strives to develop and maintain a diverse workforce. UCAR is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment and does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or pregnancy. 

Whatever your intersection of identities, you are welcome at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). We are committed to inclusivity and promoting an equitable environment that values and respects the uniqueness of all members of our organization.