Program Director, Moore Experimental Physics Investigator Initiative

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Palo Alto, California
Compensation includes competitive base salary and an excellent package of health, retirement savings
February 07 2021
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type
Job Type

About the Foundation

Gordon and Betty Moore established the foundation to create positive outcomes for future generations. In pursuit of that vision, we foster path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Guided by this vision and the Statement of Founders' Intent, each day we strive to make a significant and positive impact on the world. We tackle large, important issues at a scale where we make significant and measurable impacts.

Foundation facts

  • Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA
  • $7 billion in assets
  • Annual foundation budget of over $300 million
  • About 100 employees
  • Four program areas: Environmental Conservation, Science, Patient Care, and the San Francisco Bay Area

About the Science Program

The Science Program proactively chooses high-impact areas in which the foundation can make a measurable difference and selects the best grantees to advance this research frontier. The program makes approximately $100 million per year in grants for basic science. Present initiatives within the Science Program include Curiosity-Driven Science, Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems, and Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems, accompanied by a lively portfolio of standalone grants that include projects in astronomy, fundamental physics at the laboratory scale, developing an accelerator on a chip, and strengthening science policy. For more information about the Science Program and its initiatives, please visit: Science Program

The Position

The foundation seeks an accomplished scientist with broad knowledge of experimental physics to help design and implement a new initiative: The Moore Experimental Physics Investigators.

This initiative in basic science aims to advance the frontier in experimental physics by supporting brilliant scientists at a critical stage of their careers in U.S. universities. (The Initiative is aimed at tenure track faculty at U.S. universities who are more than five but less than ten years from their initial appointment). Over the next eleven years, the new initiative will select and support outstanding individual investigators, and provide them with access to an instrumentation fund, to support cutting-edge research in experimental physics and improve scientific understanding of the natural world. In addition, the foundation will host convocations and interactions among the investigators to unleash creativity through exchanging ideas and fostering collaboration that will lead to insightful experiments and new discoveries. The initiative has also been intentionally designed to include incentives for investigators to promote diversity in physics, astrophysics, and geophysics.

The Program Director, working directly with the Chief Program Officer for Science, Robert Kirshner, will be responsible for creating this new initiative.

Although the overall framework of the Moore Investigators has been approved by the foundation’s Board of Trustees, the Program Director will have the opportunity to shape the program by working with the Chief Program Officer to:

  • Design and execute outreach to the diverse communities active in experimental physics.
  • Set up selection procedures and advisory groups.
  • Establish norms for fellowship budget practices.
  • Create an annual convocation to foster creative and effective interaction among the investigators.
  • Administer an instrumentation fund to accelerate progress in experimental physics.
  • Establish measurement protocols to assess progress toward initiative outcomes and adapt as needed.
  • Work with a small staff to achieve excellent results outside the foundation and a supportive environment within.


The ideal candidate will have demonstrated ability to:

  • Manage a small team in a productive and constructive manner. 
  • Interact with others inside and outside the foundation in a diplomatic way, with strong interpersonal skills, and excellent written and verbal communication.  
  • Maintain a flexible and positive approach to problem solving in a collaborative team environment. 
  • Build trusted relationships and delegate when appropriate. 
  • Think critically to identify, define, and analyze problems. 
  • Provide practical and innovative solutions as real-time issues arise. 
  • Manage priorities and goals for projects through excellent project management skills. 
  • Communicate effectively in varied media, settings, and audiences—written, verbal, one-on-one, group presentations, with senior leadership, and with the board of trustees. 
  • Support and promote the foundation and your colleagues through commitment to enhancing the foundation’s considerations of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A Ph.D. or equivalent in Physics or a closely related field.
  • Significant experience as a research scientist.
  • Broad knowledge of physics and adjoining fields such as astrophysics and geophysics.
  • Demonstrated commitment to broadening participation in science by underrepresented groups.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Management experience in an academic or grant-making setting.
  • Demonstrated ability to design and implement large projects.
  • Demonstrated ability to set realistic goals and objectives, learn from evidence, and adapt to improve.
  • Ability to travel as needed to achieve the goals of the Moore Experimental Physics Investigator initiative.


The ideal candidate will also demonstrate the foundation attributes, which describe how we strive to do our work with each other and our partners:

  • Committed to Excellence
  • Passionate
  • Collegial
  • Open and Honest
  • Humble and Self-Aware


Compensation includes a competitive base salary and an excellent package of health, retirement savings and other benefits.

Application process

Applicants must be legally authorized to work in the United States. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the ordinance.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates for this search.  We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and welcome individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply.

All correspondence will remain confidential.

Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC has been retained for this search. Interested and qualified candidates should apply by sending a cover letter, resume and salary requirements by email to