Chief Scientist – Ocean Exploration Trust

Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) is hiring a forward-thinking, collaborative Chief Scientist committed to advancing ocean exploration, developing programs that promote inclusivity in the field, and liaising with the ocean science community to broadly share results and open data. As the Chief Scientist, you will be responsible for ensuring the work carried out by OET has scientific excellence, efficacy, and integrity as its highest priorities while integrating the science with the other mission pillars of the organization—education and outreach, and technological innovation. You will be a member of OET’s senior leadership team and will provide direction and strategy for our science and exploration program, including its use of remotely operated vehicles, uncrewed autonomous systems, mapping systems, and other technologies. To be successful in this role, you will act as a representative for the priorities of the ocean exploration community at large.

About Ocean Exploration Trust

OET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization—founded in 2007 by Dr. Robert Ballard—that owns and operates exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus. Annual expeditions aboard the vessel are conducted in partnership with the organization’s primary sponsor, NOAA Ocean Exploration, and others including NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Geographic Society. Through telepresence, all E/V Nautilus expeditions are streamed live to provide scientists and the public with real-time access to exploratory research and these live streams reach millions around the globe each year. Additionally, data, samples, and results from all expeditions are made openly available.

In 2019, OET was selected—in partnership with University of Rhode Island, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of New Hampshire, and University of Southern Mississippi—to implement NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute. With partners, OET will introduce a new shallow water focus to our programs in 2022 centered on studying the health of the US’s coral reefs in the Central Pacific.

Your responsibilities will include:

  • Oversee the scientific aspects of OET’s federally- and privately-funded exploration expeditions aboard E/V Nautilus and other platforms through all phases, from proposal to implementation and reporting.
  • Liaise with the ocean exploration science community to build and broaden involvement in the Nautilus Exploration Program through OET’s Scientist Ashore program, various funding/proposal opportunities (e.g., NOAA’s Broad Area Announcements & Federal Funding Opportunities, NASA proposals, etc), and peer-reviewed publications.
  • Lead all aspects of the organization’s science program, including:
    • annual expedition science planning and staffing;
    • the continued growth of OET’s annual Scientist Ashore program;
    • sample and data collections, stewardship, and archive;
    •  acquisition, integration, and stewardship of scientific sensors/equipment; and
    • oversight of the shipboard laboratory (wet lab) and inventory.
  • Manage the OET personnel, both full-time and contracted, that are responsible for its scientific, mapping, navigation, and data acquisition/archiving activities.
  • Participate on select E/V Nautilus expeditions as an expedition leader and/or lead scientist representing the ocean exploration community at large as well as the priorities of OET’s sponsors.
  • Oversee the permitting and compliance process for E/V Nautilus expeditions in coordination with OET’s expedition sponsors, the State Department, and other countries.
  • Develop and implement a strategy for broadening participation of scientists and specialists aboard E/V Nautilus, including those that fill the roles of lead and co-lead scientists.
  • Lead and collaborate with participants of the Nautilus Exploration Program on an annual publication summarizing results.
  • Participate in the governance of the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute as are presentative for OET.
  • Collaborate with OET’s Education & Outreach team to implement and continually grow/improve the Science & Engineering Internship Program, and review science-focused educational content.
  • Work with the OET senior leadership team and department leads to prepare proposals, reports, and metrics required by federal and private grants.
  • Prepare and manage annual budgets for the science and exploration department.
  • Participate in bi-annual OET Board of Directors meetings as a member of senior leadership.
  • Chair departmental and organizational meetings relevant to planning and management.
  • Act as a spokesperson for Ocean Exploration Trust and the results of annual expeditions at conferences, workshops, meetings, and within the press.
  • Qualifications & Experience:
  • PhD in marine geology, oceanography, marine biology, or equivalent.
  • 7+ years of work experience with demonstrated ability to manage complex projects and teams.
  • Demonstrated ability to secure federal and/or private grants.
  • Success in roles requiring the execution of several tasks while responding to multiple and sometimes competing priorities.
  • Proven ability to work with efficiency and flexibility.
  • Demonstrated ability to build and maintain relationships with a wide variety of people —junior and senior and from diverse backgrounds.
  • Operates with excellence in mind in all matters.
  • Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills essential.
  • Ability to exercise and mentor with diplomacy in organizational settings.
  • Transparent and direct.
  • Self-starter, self-disciplined.
  • Ethical conduct and ability to lead with empathy.
  • (preferred) Sea-going experience, particularly in the role of chief scientist, co-chief scientist,or expedition lead.
  • (preferred) Familiarity with the US ocean exploration program and community.

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work

This is a regular full-time position (at least 40 hours/wk) and requires occasional work and travel outside of regular hours and/or on weekends.


Competitive benefits package including sea pay compensation; health, dental, vision insurance; life insurance; 10 paid holidays and accrual of paid time off; simple IRA matching funds for retirement; and training/professional development opportunities.


The Chief Scientist is expected to spend approximately 1-3 months of at-sea time per year as life circumstances allow, plus 1-2 weeks of additional travel for meetings per year.

Work Authorization

In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire.

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