Director, Physical Sciences

Reporting to the president, the director of physical sciences is responsible for developing and executing the strategic vision and associated activities within the physical sciences portfolio at The Kavli Foundation. The physical sciences portfolio encompasses astrophysics and theoretical physics; thus, the successful candidate should have expertise in one or both of these fields and a broad interest in science and its societal impacts. The director will identify emerging needs in the scientific community and build strong partnerships with other funding organizations, including government agencies and other science philanthropies, to develop impactful funding strategies. Candidates holding tenured faculty positions who wish to take a leave from their home institution to be immersed in or transition to the philanthropic community are encouraged to apply. Key activities are summarized below.

Location: The Kavli Foundation Headquarters | 5715 Mesmer Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90230
Position Type: Full-time, Exempt
Travel Required: 20-30%

Strategy-setting and program management

  • Works with president to develop strategic objectives for the physical sciences program.
  • Assesses opportunities that align with the foundation’s priorities while retaining the flexibility to act quickly and opportunistically.
  • Develops and implements a strategic portfolio, including budget allocation, evaluation, grant-making and reports.
  • Works with the president’s leadership team to develop and implement strategies and programs to advance the Kavli Foundation’s mission in basic research.

    Partnership and relationship management

    • Acts as an ambassador for the foundation’s physical science program, effectively articulating and communicating the various programs internally and externally, to create meaningful partnerships and to maintain the strong reputation of the foundation.
    • Works in close collaboration with other departments within the foundation.
    • Manages relationships and commitments with external affiliates in physical sciences, including Kavli Institutes, and with other funders—both government and private; national and international.
    • Management of staff, including science program officer.


    • Ph.D. in a physical sciences field, preferably astrophysics, with 10-15+ years of high-level research management experience, including management of teams and/or senior-level staff.
    • Strong leadership and intellectual skills that illustrate talent for synthesizing and analyzing basic research trends in astrophysics and theoretical physics.
    • Experience leading complex programs and projects.
    • Prior leadership experience and the ability to develop trusted relationships with internal and external stakeholders such as university presidents, deans, grantmaking organizations and government agency leadership.
    • Demonstrated experience and competency in organizational management and diplomacy.
    • Ability to travel within the U.S. and internationally; approximately 20-30% travel.


      • Medical, dental, vision, basic life, STD/LTD voluntary buy-up
      • 401(k) with match
      • Holiday/winter close
      • Vacation
      • Foundation-wide summer and fall breaks
      • Paid sick time
      • Wellness days
      • Floating holidays
      • Volunteer days

        How to Apply

        1. Please email cover letter and resume/CV to [email protected].
        2. All applicants must complete the Culture Index Survey to be considered.

        The Kavli Foundation is an EEO employer.
        No phone calls or recruiters, please.


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