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Leading Ames National Laboratory

The position of Director at Ames National Laboratory offers unique opportunities to lead and influence the direction of science and clean energy research globally, and to support the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy. The successful candidate will be at the helm of a research institution dedicated to excellence and with a culture that fosters creativity, collaboration, and community.

Ames National Laboratory seeks applications and nominations for its next Laboratory Director to lead and enhance its ongoing world-class, mission-driven research of delivering critical materials solutions to the Nation. Ames National Laboratory conducts fundamental science addressing chemical and materials challenges, with a focus on three long-term strategic directions: critical materials and upcycling science, atomistic and molecular design and control for energy and chemical conversion, and novel synthesis to manufacturing. The Laboratory is distinctive among the 17 Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories by being physically co-located on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus in the heartland of the Midwest, Ames, Iowa. With more than 65,000 people, Ames offers recreational, educational, business, and entertainment amenities more common in a bigger metropolitan area.  It attracts talent from around the world, with over 26% of ISU faculty identifying as multicultural, which creates a vibrant community that embraces many views and perspectives.  Ames has a robust and stable economy, a thriving technology park, comprehensive medical care, and top-quality schools.

For over 75 years, Ames National Laboratory scientists and administrators have successfully partnered with ISU faculty delivering valuable science and engineering solutions for our Nation. The Director is responsible for maintaining and presenting a long-term vision for the Laboratory that captures its unique capabilities and efforts and is responsive to materials and chemical challenges of national significance. The Director is responsible for the financial stability, sustainability, and growth of a $65 million operating budget, and for the secure operation of government-owned facilities and property. The Director will build on current strengths, strategically focus on emerging opportunities, and recruit and retain top scientists and leaders by fostering a safe, welcoming, equitable, and inclusive work and research environment valuing mutual respect and integrity. The Director will develop and maintain strong relationships, collaborations, and research opportunities with DOE, other national laboratories, and other institutions. The Director will actively participate in technology transfer initiatives and Laboratory education and outreach activities, as well as engage with national and international scientific institutions and local, state, and federal officials to promote the mission of the Laboratory. The Director reports directly to the ISU Contractor’s Senior Vice President and Provost.

Ames National Laboratory leads a strong research program supported by DOE’s Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, that aims to understand and harness fundamental material and chemical processes that will underpin future capabilities. This program includes several world-leading efforts, including leadership of two Energy Frontier Research Centers. Ames National Laboratory has a proven track record of transitioning basic energy science through early-stage research into licensed technologies and commercialization and seeks to lead the nation in translating foundational science for energy and chemical conversion into critical technology innovation. Ames National Laboratory manages the DOE’s Critical Materials Institute, bringing together leading researchers from other DOE national laboratories, academia, and industry, with the collaborative goal to provide technical solutions to address domestic rare-earth material shortages and other materials critical to U.S. energy security. The Laboratory is home to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Dan Shechtman.

Ames National Laboratory has an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion to advance the U.S. research and scientific enterprise. The Laboratory’s Strategic Plan outlines a commitment to strengthen its inclusive and diverse workplace that celebrates a diversity of people, ideas, cultures, and educational backgrounds to accomplish its primary missions for the Nation. The next Director will embody the Laboratory’s core values of creativity, collaboration, and community to promote diverse, safe, and inclusive workplaces to advance its most important resource: people.


The Search Committee seeks an internationally recognized and collaborative leader in the sciences or engineering with vision for the future, commitment to inclusive excellence in broad areas of research and research management, proven administrative skills that span the academic and federal environments, and strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with all Ames National Laboratory constituencies. A Ph. D. in an area aligned with the research activities of the Laboratory, and outstanding scientific credentials and accomplishments to merit a faculty position at ISU are required.  An appropriate DOE background check will be required for the successful candidate.  We strongly encourage nominations and applications from all members of the science and engineering communities, as Ames National Laboratory, the DOE, and ISU are committed to achieving excellence through diversity and inclusion.

To guide the nominator or applicant, it is highly desirable that the Director possess:

  • An established record of visionary, collaborative scientific leadership and effective organizational management.
  • A track record with, and a commitment to, diversity and inclusion and an understanding of the benefits that diversity, inclusion, equity, allyship and accessibility bring to the Ames National Laboratory and ISU communities.
  • A passion for and the ability to energize and sustain the multi-disciplinary culture of Ames National Laboratory.
  • Demonstrated evidence of and commitment to developing and retaining talent within a research environment.
  • Demonstrated evidence of a commitment to the safety, security, and well-being of employees, assets, and the environment.
  • The ability to cultivate relationships and develop programs with the DOE’s Office of Science, other DOE offices, leadership of other national laboratories, and public stakeholders, including the State of Iowa, and other private customers to further the mission of the Laboratory. The Director will understand federal funding agencies and, preferably, have prior experience with and knowledge of the DOE: its culture, how funding decisions are made, and the environment of and partnership with federal funding agencies.
  • Interpersonal skills needed to be a spokesperson to diverse stakeholders in promoting the mission, vision, and accomplishments of Ames National Laboratory. As needed, the Director will travel to DOE headquarters and other locations for direct interactions with relevant stakeholders.
  • The ability to leverage and build upon the unique opportunities afforded by the partnership of Ames National Laboratory and ISU, while also respecting their differences.

POSITION SPECIFICATION: A full position specification is attached at this LINK

APPLICATION MATERIALS: The complete application should contain a cover letter, résumé/CV, and list of references (as a single PDF file) that will enable the Search Committee to understand how the nominee’s background, accomplishments, and vision will serve the Lab as its future leader.  References will only be contacted for finalists following a notification of intent to interview.

DEADLINE: The search committee will begin reviewing materials immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  Priority will be given to applications received by August 1, 2023.

CONTACTS: All inquiries, nominations, and applications may be sent c/o the search firm at