Director, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) seeks an accomplished and visionary leader to serve as the Director of its Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).  The Director is LASP’s chief executive officer, reporting to the University’s Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation and Dean of the Institutes. The Director has primary responsibility for leadership by working with staff and faculty toward a shared vision for LASP, developing new ideas and strategies for its future, overseeing its management, business development, and financial operations, and fulfilling LASP’s mission of training the next generation of diverse interdisciplinary space scientists.

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

LASP is among the largest of CU Boulder’s 12 research institutes and is extraordinarily successful by any measure: in FY23, it surpassed all other CU Boulder research institutes in the total value of sponsored research proposals ($367,609,300), sponsored awards (254), and sponsored award dollars ($159,173,761). Together, CU Boulder’s institutes employ more than 3,000 faculty, researchers, students, and supporting staff, among them some of the most productive researchers in the country. The institutes generate more than half of all sponsored-research dollars at the University and make a major contribution to the local and regional economy.

Core responsibilities of the Director:

  • Sets the research direction for LASP, creating the strategic vision and framework necessary to empower research growth through knowledge, technology, and capacity development
  • Works with LASP and University leadership to develop a long-range plan for the resources, organizational structure and culture, and investments needed to sustain LASP’s success in space-exploration research and in workforce development
  • Effectively represents LASP to the broader University community including through engagements with other institute and center leaders; advocates for funding and policy initiatives that benefit LASP and the University at large
  • Manages relationships with local, national, and international stakeholders
  • Provides executive direction for the R&D initiatives by LASP scientists, engineers, and operations, and beyond LASP in University, government, and international space-research communities
  • Maintains a broad understanding of the overall space- and Earth-science research environment, areas of key interest, growth projections, and risks; in particular, monitors the various Decadal Surveys that shape different areas of LASP’s opportunity-set for developments and initiatives that LASP can leverage
  • Identifies and influences investment in new research opportunities both within and beyond LASP
  • Cultivates a positive culture of interdisciplinary collaboration among LASP staff, researchers, faculty, and students in an environment that enables the development and growth of all employees
  • Provides leadership and support for LASP to advance its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in its own organization and in space science more broadly
  • Ensures efficient management of the LASP budget and of all personnel actions and commitments of resources by LASP

Competencies and qualifications

CU Boulder seeks applicants with the following qualifications: outstanding leadership qualities; the ability to set and pursue a strategic vision for LASP; the ability to operate effectively within the University community; a deep sense of space science and engineering; thorough comprehension of the issues involved with space-exploration research; broad awareness of the business drivers that shape the behaviors of a diverse community of researchers and stakeholders; and a proven capacity to oversee successful execution of large-scale research and development programs.

The successful candidate should have an advanced degree or equivalent experience in a relevant discipline of engineering or science and a record of outstanding scholarly achievement in space engineering, space science, and/or relevant interdisciplinary research, along with credentials suitable for consideration as a tenured full professor at CU Boulder.

In addition, qualified candidates will possess:

  • The ability to lead and define new directions in science, engineering, and program opportunities
  • Familiarity with government, commercial, and international space research goals, objectives, and opportunities
  • The ability to identify and manage the academic, financial, and political factors that impact institutional and commercial research opportunities both nationally and internationally
  • Experience with U.S. and/or international space agencies and the aerospace industry
  • General understanding of export controls requirements in the context of LASP activities
  • Commitment to promoting LASP’s and CU Boulder’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals
  • Effective cross-cultural and cross-discipline communication skills
  • The ability to succeed through influence and subject-matter expertise as well as through positional authority
  • Excellent collaborative and adaptive thinking perspectives as well as high emotional intelligence
  • Resilience, agility, and organizational savvy

Due to requirements governing access to export-controlled data and information, only U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), or other protected individuals (i.e., persons designated as an asylee, refugee, or temporary resident under amnesty provisions) are eligible for hire. Eligibility for a high-level security clearance is preferred but not required.

Employment terms

CU Boulder institute directors are appointed for four-year, renewable terms.  CU Boulder Institute Process and Procedures can be found here. The annual salary range for this position is $300,000-$375,000, plus moving allowance and signing bonus. The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. CU Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers all its employees an inspiring work environment.

To apply

The University of Colorado has engaged Opus Partners ( to support the recruitment of the LASP Director. Craig Smith, Senior Partner, Ann K. Adams, Associate Partner, and Jeffrey Stafford, Senior Associate, are leading the search.

LASP has a deep interest in efforts to foster and promote belonging, accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion. In addition to their CV and letter of interest, candidates should submit a one-page statement on how their research, teaching, and/or leadership and service demonstrate an active commitment to belonging, accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Examples might include scholarly work, efforts to improve access and equity for underrepresented individuals or groups, or other contributions to diverse communities, past and present. Candidates should send their CV, letter of interest, and one-page statement to or

Nominations, recommendations, and inquiries should go to the same address. Every effort will be made to ensure candidate confidentiality. Applications received by August 9, 2024 will receive full consideration. The search process will remain confidential until the final stage of a public campus visit.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. It is an Equal Opportunity employer, including of veterans and individuals with disabilities.

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