U.S. nationals: Executive Director (Division of Hydrologic Sciences)

Desert Research Institute (DRI)
Reno or Las Vegas, NV, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Job Description

The Desert Research Institute (DRI), the non-profit environmental research institution of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), is seeking a qualified individual to provide scientific leadership and management for its Division of Hydrologic Sciences (DHS). The primary function of the DHS Executive Director is to support, facilitate, and expand Division research activities through leadership that augments and enhances the Division’s multi-disciplinary scientific skills. DRI has two campuses, one in Reno and one in Las Vegas, NV, with DHS faculty located on both campuses. The Executive Director position can be based at either location with routine travel between the offices required.

The successful candidate will: 1) perform oversight of DHS personnel and resources; 2) provide career support for DHS scientists and recruit new talent; 3) work with faculty to maintain and grow the existing portfolio of DHS research projects; 4) assist faculty to identify new opportunities by leveraging existing capabilities and engaging with potential sponsors of future research; and 5) foster teamwork within DRI/NSHE.

Position Description

Qualified candidates will excel in two or more of the following core competencies with significant experience in the third.


  • Be an effective internal and external spokesperson for DHS faculty capabilities and successes.
  • Embody a high standard for scientific and engineering quality, thereby serving as an example for excellence in scientific/engineering products and outstanding customer service.
  • Lead efforts in workforce planning.
  • Promote faculty development and retention, acknowledge efforts of meritorious faculty, and maintain a healthy and inclusive working environment.
  • Provide leadership and direction to integrate Divisional strengths and encourage interactions between DHS scientists and scientists within both NSHE and other institutions.
  • Contribute to the overall success of the Institute by actively engaging as a member of DRI’s Senior Leadership Team.

Research Program Development

  • Provide direction and support to individual faculty and assist in program planning and development. This will sometimes require interaction with funding agencies.
  • Prioritize allocation of divisional funds in a way that optimizes efforts by faculty members to grow DHS’ sponsored research portfolio. This includes the strategic hiring of additional faculty.
  • Mentor faculty to further develop skills in proposal development and grant writing.
  • Work with DRI’s Senior leadership team to explore research opportunities that play to the strengths of the Institute.
  • Collaborate, when the opportunity arises, with DRI’s Office of Advancement to engage DHS faculty with philanthropic donors interested in sponsoring environmental research within the division.

Management and Division Responsibilities

  • Work with DHS Business Managers to establish revenue projections, set budget priorities, allocate Division funds, and coordinate fiscal affairs with the Financial Services Office.
  • Conduct annual performance-based evaluations of faculty and staff. Make recommendations related to faculty promotions.
  • Ensure optimum use of existing equipment, funds, and facilities. Prioritize on-going DHS facility needs and advocate for additional resources as necessary.
  • Participate in the overall management of the Institute as a member of DRI’s Senior Leadership Team.

Required Qualifications

  • A doctorate or a master’s degree from an accredited institution in water-related civil or environmental engineering, hydrology, aquatic geochemistry, or related field; with proven research accomplishments.
  • Demonstrable excellence with two or more of the core competencies (Leadership, Management, and Program Development) and significant experience with the third.
  • Previous experience supervising/managing budgets and personnel for organizations similar in size to DHS.
  • Evidence of success in a setting in which a significant portion of funding comes from competitively awarded grants and contracts. This includes evidence of success by the applicant in securing funding for salaries, research, or other operational expenses.
  • Demonstrated experience of successful research project execution and delivery of results and products.
  • Broad understanding of water-related environmental and research issues, as evidenced by a record of peer reviewed publications.
  • Demonstrated outstanding interpersonal and written communication skills.
  • Must be a citizen of the United States and be able to qualify for and retain a security clearance which will require a background investigation by the Federal government with possible subsequent re-investigations. 

Strongly Preferred Qualifications

  • Direct experience identifying current and future research needs and developing/implementing strategies that capitalized on those needs.
  • Direct experience in a “soft money” research environment where a significant fraction of funding for faculty salaries and operational costs is pursued external to the institution.

About the Desert Research Institute

DRI is a leader in environmental sciences, applying knowledge and technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world. Approximately $35 million of DRI’s research is funded through competitively awarded grants and contracts from federal, state, local, private, and international agencies. DRI comprises three research divisions: Hydrologic Sciences, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, and Atmospheric Sciences.  Research faculty are associated with specific divisions, each of which is administered by an Executive Director. The State of Nevada provides financial support for some of DRI’s administrative functions including the Executive Director position.

About the Division of Hydrologic Sciences

The mission of the DHS within DRI is to improve society’s fundamental knowledge and understanding of hydrologic systems and to encourage more effective and efficient management of water resources. DHS has approximately 130 faculty and support staff, graduate research assistants and hourly employees.  Approximately two-thirds of our personnel are located at the Northern Nevada Science Center (NNSC) in Reno, with the remainder at the Southern Nevada Science Center (SNSC) in Las Vegas. DHS conducts more than $11 million of research annually, with an administrative operating budget of $1.6 million. The DHS Executive Director has considerable flexibility in the allocation of funds for various Division functions and initiatives. 

The scientific areas currently encompassed by the Division include both basic and applied science and reflect issues and concerns common to regions around the world including developing nations. Consequently, the scope and relevance of this research extends well beyond the borders of Nevada and the nation. In addition to their research, some DHS faculty hold faculty status in water resource-related academic programs at UNR and UNLV, where they teach undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as advise M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students. The Institute is able to draw upon the variety of expertise available within NSHE and to involve faculty and students in collaborative research efforts. Visit http://www.dri.edu and http://www.dri.edu/dhs for more detailed information about our research activities.

Conditions of Employment

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.


DRI’s starting salary is competitive and commensurate with education, experience, and aligns with similar public academic research institutions. DRI provides excellent benefits that include:

  • Health insurance options that include dental, vision, life, and long-term disability;
  • 15.25% tax-deferred retirement contribution with matching by DRI;
  • Thirty (30) days of sick leave provided upon start date and two (2) days of sick leave accrued per full month after the first year of service, two (2) days of annual leave accrued each full month, 11 paid holidays;
  • Tuition reduction at NSHE institutions for employee and dependents;
  • No state income tax and no Social Security deduction;
  • Relocation assistance.

Exempt Yes

Full-Time Equivalent  100.0%

Required Attachment(s)

Please upload the following documents in the specified section:

  • Cover letter detailing how your experience and professional qualifications meet the hiring criteria and prepare you to succeed in this role at DRI;
  • Within your cover letter please include a sentence confirming your United States citizenship and if you foresee any restrictions from being able to obtain and maintain the required security clearance for this position? Applications submitted without answering the required statement will be incomplete.
  • Current curriculum vita;
  • Contact information for four professional references, to be contacted at the appropriate phase of the recruitment process based on applicant permission at that time. References must specifically include at least one peer and one subordinate.

Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply immediately and provide all required attachments to receive full consideration.

Lists of eligible candidates will be established and hiring may occur early in the recruiting process. Recruitment will close without notice when a sufficient number of applications are received, or a hiring decision has been made. For more detailed information about DRI, please visit us at www.dri.edu. For questions regarding this position or assistance with your application, please call the recruiting office at 775-673-7332.

Posting Close Date


Note to Applicant

Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications. The search committee will use this information during the initial review of application materials.  

References will be contacted at the appropriate phase of the recruitment process based on applicant notification and permission.

Newly hired faculty and postdoctoral fellows must assure that their official transcript is submitted to the Human Resources Office within 30 calendar days from the effective date of employment.  Academic degrees must have been awarded by regionally accredited institutions.

This position may require a criminal background check to be conducted on the candidate(s) selected for hire.

As part of the hiring process, applicants for positions in the Nevada System of Higher Education may be required to demonstrate the ability to perform job-related tasks.

DRI employs only U.S. citizens and aliens authorized to work in the U.S. DRI only sponsors aliens applying for research faculty or postdoctoral fellow positions (J-1 or H-1B Visas).

All applicants hired by the Desert Research Institute are subject to E-Verify.