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Janelia Science Communicator

HHMI/Janelia Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia (US)
Closing date
Dec 12, 2021

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Life Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience, Physiology
Position Type
Full Time
Job Type
Organization Type
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Janelia Research Campus is a pioneering research center in Ashburn, Virginia, where scientists pursue fundamental questions in neuroscience and imaging. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) launched Janelia in 2006, establishing an intellectually distinctive environment for scientists to do creative, collaborative, hands-on work.   Our integrated teams of biologists, computational scientists, and tool-builders pursue a small number of scientific questions with potential for transformative impact.  We share our methods, results, and tools with the scientific community.  It is a uniquely innovative and collaborative atmosphere that reflects HHMI’s reputation for excellence.


We’re looking for a digitally savvy communicator who is excited to share the wonder of our research journey with the world. This is a job for someone who is fascinated by scientific discovery and ready to experiment with communications tactics to find new ways to tell compelling stories. The ideal candidate to join our Ashburn, Virginia-based Communications team is a strategic thinker with good judgment, strong planning skills, and the interpersonal skill to build collaborative relationships with a wide variety of technical experts.  We’re looking for a savvy self-starter to join our well-resourced yet lean team.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 

  • Translate scientific subject matter into broadly accessible content for Janelia’s external and internal needs, including but not limited to websites, social media, media pitches, blogs, and internal newsletters.
  • Conceptualize and create graphics, video, and other audio/visual as well as interactive elements to engage target audiences.
  • Manage content production by independently creating content, collaborating with colleagues, and working with freelancers and other outside support as needed.
  • Manage day-to-day activity on Janelia’s social media channels. Develop, implement, evaluate, and adapt strategy for audience engagement and community management.
  • Establish and maintain an editorial calendar and tools to manage content, working with Communications colleagues to integrate content across internal and external channels.
  • Plan and monitor projects and daily work to stay on schedule and on track to meet expectations, escalating as needed and adjusting for any challenges that might arise.
  • Immerse in campus life at Janelia, establishing and maintaining relationships with Janelia scientists and staff to understand our goals and to help identify and develop stories, information, and shareable content. Proactively seek and suggest content ideas.
  • Monitor channels and take an analytical approach to measure effectiveness, defining relevant benchmarks and regularly reporting outcomes; take a data-informed approach to ongoing strategy development. Ensure content is consistently reviewed, tagged, and published to support accurate measurement and insight collection.
  • Proactively maintain digital and general communications skills and stay on top of industry trends, identifying and sharing emerging trends, tools, and platforms that could benefit Janelia.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • This position involves time spent at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia and HHMI’s headquarter campus in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Hybrid work is an option.



  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • Experience or degree in the Life or Physical Sciences, Journalism, Communication, or a related discipline is a plus.


  • Minimum of five (5) years of directly relevant experience in a similar position. Experience in a scientific nonprofit, major research university, or academic medical center is highly desired.

Skills and Abilities:

  • Demonstrated ability to transform complicated subject matter and diverse source material into coherent, engaging, and accurate communications for a variety of audiences.
  • Strong critical thinking skills and strategic savvy necessary to understand organizational dynamics and tailor communications accordingly. Good judgment.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills, ability to develop trust and credibility with a wide range of staff, and ability to use discretion and maintain confidentiality.
  • Positivity and adaptability necessary to thrive in an ambiguous, fast-paced environment where scientists routinely partner with communicators to hatch new ideas.
  • Strong project management, organizational, and time-management skills. This includes being responsive, communicative, and reliably consistent.
  • Basic technical proficiency in posting and sharing content via software (email platforms, web content management system, social media content management system)
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Must be able to identify and work towards outcomes with an approach that prioritizes customer service, creativity, and a learning mindset.

Physical Requirements: 

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).  

Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis. 

Please Note: 

This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however.  Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

HHMI is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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