Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Director of Advanced Instrumentation

Application Deadline: N/A
Non-Profit Research

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.


About JET: 

The Janelia Experimental Technology (JET) group designs, builds, and tests custom instruments, tools, and software in close collaboration with Janelia’s scientists, enabling them to rapidly pursue state-of-the-art experimental methods.   JET projects range from small gadgets to full instruments or experimental rigs. For some labs, JET is the primary supplier of custom instrumentation, collaborating with the scientists through the entire lifecycle of experiment design, development, and fabrication.  For labs whose core research results in the development of instrumentation, JET provides fabrication and assembly support.

JET also initiates and executes a program of internal instrument development projects (referred to as Technology and Open Science Centers (TOSCs)), aimed at making strategic investments in early technology research that promises to have outsized and enabling impact on Janelia research.  The Director is responsible for gathering requirements, proposing strategic initiatives, and vetting internal development plans with senior management and scientific program heads and group leaders.  These efforts may also include projects targeted at Janelia’s Open Science initiatives, promising benefit to the broader research community and are funded centrally from Janelia’s operating and capital budget.


About the Position:

We seek a leader for this outstanding multi-disciplinary team of about 15 technical professionals – software, electrical, mechanical, and optical engineers; and scientific machinists.  An excellent record of mentoring and leading staff members to success is required.

This position has three main components: interface with Janelia’s scientists, engineering management, and individual technical contribution.   You must enthusiastically engage with Janelia’s scientists, visit their labs, attend their seminars and appreciate their research and budget challenges.  You will provide engineering oversight for your team’s work with their scientific customers, including definition and management of scope, risk management, and critical technical review.  You will prioritize projects and control staffing and schedule for a large portfolio of projects.   Despite the heavy emphasis on leadership and management in the above description, we will shape this role and the overall management structure of JET to complement your strengths, capabilities, and interests, and encourage you to maintain a hands-on individual contributor role.

You must thrive in a fluid R&D environment, possess outstanding technical insight relevant to instrument development (electrical, software, optical and/or mechanical engineering), as well as excellent communication, interpersonal skills, and management skills. We seek an individual with a relevant engineering or science background, demonstrated experience managing technical teams, approximately 10 years experience developing scientific instrumentation for the life sciences.


Principal Responsibilities:

Managing JET’s:

  • Personnel, including management of team leads and team members

  • Relationships with internal customers and their collaborators

  • Portfolio of tens of concurrent ongoing projects.  Requires prioritizing projects, and negotiating delivery schedules with lab customers, and managing execution in a fluid R&D environment.  

  • State of the art facility

  • Health and Safety Compliance


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Deep experience in instrumentation-driven research.  Imaging is a key technical area for JET

  • Experience in neuroscience, cell biology, physiology a plus.

  • Advanced degree in a relevant scientific or engineering field (e.g., Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Physics)

  • Ability to drive transdisciplinary projects and programs to success.

  • Demonstrated personnel management experience

  • Approximately 10 years experience developing scientific instrumentation for the life sciences

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.


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