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Program Officer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

The John Templeton Foundation is looking to recruit a Program Officer who will be responsible for implementing the strategic and operational objectives of the mathematical and physical sciences

  • Closing soon
  • Closing date: 10 Sep 2020
  • United States | John Templeton Foundation
  • Date posted: 10 Aug 2020
  • Job type: Science administration & media
  • Disciplines: Astronomy, cosmology & space science  | Condensed matter 

Organization and position

The mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to life’s biggest questions. As a grant-making organization, we fund research and outreach at the scientific and spiritual frontiers. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians, as well as between such experts and the public at large. Led by a unique vision and extraordinary people, we seek to advance spiritual progress by funding the best ideas, analysing our grants, and capitalizing on what we learn.

The Natural Sciences department seeks to support projects that address these and similar big questions concerning the origin and nature of the universe and humankind’s place in it. High-risk projects that promise substantial rewards are especially encouraged, as are projects unlikely to be supported by standard funding agencies.  Notable grants within Natural Sciences funding areas include: “The Black Hole Initiative: Towards a Center for Interdisciplinary Research,” “Opportunity M: The Fast Track to Find Other Inhabited Worlds,” and “Revealing the Undiscovered Forces that Break Matter-Antimatter Symmetry by Measuring the Shape of Electrons.”

To advance our mission and strengthen our extraordinary team, the Foundation is seeking a Program Officer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The Program Officer is responsible for implementing the strategic and operational objectives of the mathematical and physical sciences. The Program Officer will help shape successful grants aimed at answering questions such as: What laws and regularities give shape to the cosmos, and how can they be described mathematically? How can experiments and observations help us hone our foundational concepts of space, time, causality, information, entanglement, object identity, and rules of empirical reasoning? The Program Officer’s specific activities include the review of grant proposals, communicating with applicants and grantees regarding the application and review process, collaborating with our evaluation team to determine the impact of our grants, developing new projects to advance the mission and vision of the foundation, and representing the foundation at relevant meetings and conferences. 

The successful candidate will have a Master’s Degree or PhD in physics, astronomy, mathematics or a closely related field. At least three years of professional experience in a foundation or academic setting is required and experience of interdisciplinary research is advantageous. Our new Program Officer will have strong analytical skills, a collaborative orientation, and the ability to communicate with scholars and members of the academic community. Willingness to travel domestically and internationally is required. A strong personal interest in the Foundation’s mission is essential.

Areas of responsibility

  • Manage the life cycle of the grant process, including the Foundation’s relationship each Principal Investigator, for initiatives that fall under the purview of Natural Sciences.
  • Perform grant-making activities including reviewing and analysing proposals, writing funding recommendations and monitoring grant performance.
  • Manage multiple grant-making projects simultaneously.
  • Develop a range of proactive initiatives that serve the Foundation’s mission through specific research or engagement projects.
  • Communicate the mission of the Foundation both internally and externally, especially to researchers, academic institutions, global media associations, and related networking opportunities.
  • Contribute to the development and execution of strategic program plans.
  • Contribute to special projects in collaboration with colleagues in Natural Sciences and related program areas.
  • Evaluate the performance of grants and grantees in collaboration with the Planning and Evaluation team.
  • Identify and communicate with other funding agencies whose goals overlap with the Foundation’s goals in Natural Sciences, seeking to leverage JTF’s impact on a global scale.
  • Increase JTF’s brand relevance and impact of funding by attracting leading researchers and promising scholars.
  • Participate in site visits for active grants and attend relevant professional conferences.
  • Participate in the organization of conferences and symposia relevant to the Foundation’s mission.
  • Make new contacts and discuss possible projects with potential grantees.
  • Participate in professional development opportunities.


  • Master’s degree in physics, astronomy, mathematics, or a closely related field required; PhD preferred.
  • A track record of grant-funded research and publication strongly preferred.
  • A record of involvement with interdisciplinary research advantageous.
  • Highly organized with strong analytical skills.
  • A track record of writing and editing program related content, proposals, papers and presentations.
  • Skilled communicator, who desires to work with scholars and members of the academic community as well as across internal departments in an interdisciplinary environment.
  • Ability to build relationships and to maintain professional networks.
  • Pertinent travel is required.
  • Ability to understand the Foundation’s mission and core themes.
  • Strong personal interest in the Foundation’s mission is essential.


We are committed to caring for our employees and their families through exceptional benefits. We pay for 100% of employee medical, dental and vision premiums, and generously contribute to family premiums. We provide life insurance, short-term disability coverage and long-term disability coverage at no cost to employees. We offer a 401(k) retirement savings plan with an employer match and additional discretionary contributions. Paid time off includes generous vacation, sick and personal days. The Foundation offers a unique donation program, enabling employees the ability to direct a $5000 donation to a mission aligned organization of their choice, with no employee donation required.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the PO, Mathematical and Physical Sciences role will be a remote position through at least 3 January 2021. The Foundation values team member collaboration and plans to resume in-office operations when it is safe to do so. As such, our new hire will work in the Foundation’s West Conshohocken office. If relocation is involved, advanced notice will be provided. 

West Conshohocken, PA is a short drive (~15 miles) from Philadelphia and within walking distance of a commuter train station into downtown Philadelphia. The offices are close to residential and commercial districts with multiple restaurants, as well as Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs where Villanova University, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College are located. The surrounding area has many walkable communities with an affordable cost of living and a robust variety of cultural and entertainment opportunities, including a vibrant food scene, five professional sports teams, world-class museums, galleries, gardens and a broad array of music venues and other performing arts institutions. The offices are in close proximity to major highways, with New York City, the Jersey shore, the Pocono Mountains, and the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country all within a two-hour drive. The offices also provide easy access to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (making New York City or Washington, DC an easy day trip) and to Philadelphia International Airport, an American Airlines hub serving destinations throughout the US (more than 100 routes), Caribbean (a dozen routes), and Europe/MENA (more than 20 routes).

To apply

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