Chief Science Officer (CSO)


The Chief Science Officer (CSO) will oversee all grant-making in a multitude of disciplines, ensuring that the highest levels of science, exploration, visual storytelling and education are continually advanced with its grants. The CSO will help harness the powers (and new billion-dollar endowment) of National Geographic to help drive new ways of understanding our world and our place in it – so those whom it touches can act to take care of it.

Working closely with the Chief Executive Officer and reporting to the EVP, Chief Program and Impact Officer, the CSO leads all content and Program Officers (known as “Team Seed”) across the organization’s four major focus areas: Our Human Story; Living Planet; Critical Species; and New Frontiers. The overall goal of Team Seed is to seek and fund the most innovative and game-changing grants. Team Seed is the entry point for all science, exploration, visual storytelling, and talent. The team are National Geographic’s talent scouts, recruiters, strategists, frontline reporters, hunters and gatherers, always looking for new ways and voices to seek and create understanding about our world.

The CSO will also closely coordinate grant-making in National Geographic’s other areas of expertise: photojournalism; photography; science & environmental journalism; cartography & mapping; and education. Over 400 grants will be given in any year; of these, most are grants in science and exploration, but also in photography, visual imaging, mapping, and education—-and the ideal grants will be some combination of the disciplines in a way that only NGS can do.

While the grants themselves create a body of work advancing science on several fronts, some grants will lead to potential Scale Projects with bigger ambitions and impacts, and bigger budgets to match. When these arise, they are put through the Project Greenlight process, and once they are in fact greenlit, move into the SCALE bucket for execution.

The CSO will work closely with the Committee on Research and Exploration who advises and guides the grant-making of the whole team. She/he helps generate position papers and RPFs to guide the Society’s impact in the world, and has a deep and broad reputation and contacts all over the world on which to draw.

1. Serving as a champion and role model for the National Geographic’s mission and organizational culture;
2. Overseeing the 4 program officers and their teams, while retaining, recruiting, and developing top talent;
3. Using reputation and all powers to enhance and extend the scientific and educational reputation of NGS around the world;
4. Establishing and maintaining relationships with other educational and scientific institutions advance its fields of interests with its grants and partners;
5. Managing the grant-making pipeline and providing guidance and setting priorities for grant-making strategies and implementation;
6. Working closely with the Talent team to recruit and develop grantees that come through the pipeline;
7. Cultivating close relationships with National Geographic’s Explorers;
8. Managing the CRE meetings and relationships;
9. Working closely with the Visual Imaging Lab to find and generate projects at the intersection of science and visual imaging and storytelling in order to provide NGS’s unique value to advancing the cause and understanding of science;
10. Working closely with the SCALE team to develop and promote to greenlight projects that warrant Scaling up, and with the SHARE team to disseminate word;
11. Attending conferences and meetings as appropriate (travel is possibly extensive); and
12. Make certain all activities and programs meet the highest standards of ethics and are aligned with the National Geographic’s values.

Minimum Education Required
Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a scientific discipline; Ph.D. preferred.

Minimum Years and Type of Experience
10 or more years of experience working in science, conservation, or fields implicitly relevant to National Geographic’s mission. The ideal candidate is a respected veteran of at least one of these disciplines if not more, a person whose reputation precedes them and who is willing to put it to use to build something new to take on this important moment in human understanding of our world.

Knowledge and Skills Required
The CSO will bring the proven ability to lead and motivate staff (directly and indirectly) with varying professional experiences, disciplines, and educational backgrounds. She/he must have the interpersonal skills and intellect to work well within and effectively manage across complex organizational structures, systems, and relationships. The candidate must be a collaborator and active listener, able to develop positive relationships, and build consensus and engage people, institutions and constituencies toward achieving goals.

She/he must be able to work effectively with, and represent National Geographic to, a wide range of important external constituents, including but not limited to heads of state, business leaders, donors, government agencies, talent/explorers/scientists/educators, private industry, educational institutions and external boards. Excellent public speaking skills and media experience are essential. She/he will be a self-starter on carrying out the NGS agenda around the world.

She/he will foster an environment for creativity and innovation and lead an exceptional team with deep content expertise, and also provide the overarching leadership necessary to advance groundbreaking thinking and grant-making. She/he will have the ability to assess challenges of a changing world and, in partnership with colleagues, help develop and implement a grant-making strategy that enables National Geographic to engage and have continued impact that matters.

5-10 staff members.

Responsibility percentages may vary depending on business needs.

National Geographic’s headquarters is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. In addition to a unique and dynamic work environment, National Geographic offers its employees a comprehensive benefits package, including health and dental benefits, generous vacation and leave time, a 401(k) plan, and flexible work options. Please visit our careers site at to view this job as well as our full listing of career opportunities. National Geographic is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

To Apply
Please send a resume and letter of interest to

Source: Nature Jobs

Latest Euroscicon Tweets

Error: Could not authenticate you.