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NRRI Director of Research

Natural Resources Research Institute
Duluth, Minnesota
Salary range is $92,072-$184,1456 per year + benefits
Posted Date
Aug 23, 2022

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Position Type
Executive, Executive Directors
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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The Natural Resources Research Institute was established by the Minnesota legislature in 1983 as an applied science and engineering research organization to inform state citizens and decision-makers while leveraging the power of the University of Minnesota. NRRI is guided by the forward-looking charter provided by the Legislature to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment.

NRRI’s mission is to deliver integrated research solutions that value our resources, environment, and economy for a sustainable and resilient future. We are a mission-driven, project-focused team working to create opportunities for natural resource stewardship.

With industrial-scale facilities in Duluth and Coleraine, MN, NRRI works across five strategic research platforms. These platforms address Minnesota’s soil, forest, water, and mineral resources:

• Applied Ecology and Resource Management
• Minerals and Metallurgy
• Materials and Bioeconomy
• Data Collection and Delivery
• Commercialization Services

Are you passionate about discovering the economy of the future? The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) is and is seeking a Director of Research to see this vision through. The Director of Research is a senior leadership position that has impact across the Institute and is responsible for the planning and execution of the Institute research enterprise. The administrative nature of this position requires that the employee serve on the senior leadership team and play a key leadership role in developing and driving the strategic direction for the Institute and related research priorities. This includes program definition and funding, personnel assignment and development, succession planning, appropriation planning, advisory board engagement and interdepartmental coordination. The Director of Research provides leadership and mentoring to managers, supervisors, and professional staff. Where delegated, the Director of Research will stand in for the Institute director as official representative of NRRI.

The Director of Research is responsible for all research activities and their relevance to the Institute charter and strategic plan. This position is responsible for identifying new strategically relevant areas of research with related funding sources, coordinating efforts to assemble projects and funding, fostering internal and external collaborations and ensuring Institute capabilities are consistent with research directions. The Director of Research contributes to the intellectual life of the Institute through internal seminars and workshops and by promoting the work of the Institute to external constituencies/stakeholders. Ultimately, the Director of Research is responsible for the professional output and financial performance of the research enterprise at NRRI.

The Director of Research is a technical mentor in areas where the Director of Research has expertise and may maintain some level of individual or team research activities. Where possible and appropriate, the incumbent will engage in professional activities in societies, technical symposia, panels, and on advisory committees that are aligned with the NRRI mission.

Job Duties:

Research Leadership (30%):
• The Director of Research helps set the research expectations for the Institute and leads the research enterprise in fulfillment of research goals. The Director of Research will engage Institute leadership, employees, and stakeholder groups (academia, industry, agency, NGO, public) to anticipate and identify research challenges related to global societal, market and industry trends; frame and organize relevant research programs with robust funding strategies in alignment with the Institute strategic plan; maintain a balanced and funded research program portfolio focused on placing the Institute in a strong position for the future. The Director of Research will actively promote integrated, interdisciplinary research by encouraging University System-wide engagement and partnerships with agencies, industry, NGOs, and the public.

• The Director of Research must leverage a broad background of professional experience, expertise, and insight to recognize and drive impactful research across the Institute. This individual will model and promote expectations of research professionals with particular focus on rigor, integrity, quality, and safety. The Director of Research will employ project management best practices to monitor progress of research programs and projects – mentoring as appropriate, make decisions to maintain, redirect or terminate projects, and define strategies to remain relevant as a premier natural resources research enterprise.

• The Director of Research leads the Institute Research Group Manager team in creation of individual research group strategies, integration of those strategies and supervision of the relevant work streams. This team collaboratively identifies opportunities for cross-Institute programs, helps assign researchers, reviews progress and evaluates performance.

Institute Leadership (20%):
• The Director of Research will serve on the Institute’s Senior Leadership Team and will collaboratively engage employees, the advisory board, and all stakeholder groups to evolve and manage the strategic plan for the Institute. The Director of Research will also directly contribute to decisions regarding operations, policy, budget and finance, safety, quality, personnel, facilities, equipment. As a senior leader, the individual will be called upon to represent the Executive Director and the Institute to external parties and stakeholders.

Performance and Professional Development (20%):
• Professional development and skill set management are critical to the growth of the Institute, succession planning and delivery of results in fulfilling the Institute’s strategic plan. The Director of Research manages professional development and helps set performance targets by ensuring that goal setting is clear, robust, and managed fairly across the research enterprise. Feedback to employees via the performance review process is undertaken both on a formal and informal basis.

• The Director of Research also sets expectations for the supervision of graduate students, technicians, research scientists and professionals. The position has the authority to offer decisions or effectively recommend the following actions: hire, transfer, suspend, promote, discharge, assign work, reward, and discipline.

• The Director of Research is responsible for ensuring diverse employees are given equal opportunity and for helping create healthy cultures at NRRI.

Budget Management (10%):
• The Director of Research manages multiple budgets, creates, plans, and proposes budgets, works with Institute accounting personnel to manage budget issues and to develop solutions to funding issues as they develop. The Director of Research interacts with subordinate managers in ensuring that budget matters are monitored and controlled on an ongoing basis and funds are allocated properly across multiple projects. Also, the Director of Research defines hard and soft fund allocation strategies and defines performance metrics and accountability models when budget limits are exceeded.

Proposal Development Training and Internal Grand Funding (10%):
• Significant effort and experience are required to successfully prepare proposals in response to specific requests for projects by granting agencies and external clients. Such experience entails identifying appropriate research funding, writing grant proposals, overseeing research, data collection and analysis, writing and extensively publishing research results in areas that are relevant to NRRI’s mission.

• The Director of Research sets the expectations regarding quality and scientific rigor of Institute project proposals.

• The Director of Research is responsible for the oversight and management of the NRRI Technical Review Board which offers training for proposal preparation and reviews requests for internally funded research projects. Under the leadership of the Director of Research, the board sets clear proposal expectations and provides rigorous peer-review for NRRI scientists to apply for internally funded research projects.

Professional Activities (10%):

• Within their field(s) of expertise, the Director of Research will maintain professional participation, service and membership in societies, panels, symposia, or advisory committees that are aligned with the Institute mission and strategic plan. Such activities across the University, federal to local governments, public media, private sector clients and NGOs represent the Institute and the University of Minnesota to all stakeholders and communicate research results and the Institute’s research products. As a senior leader, the Director of Research must be able to represent the entirety of the organization, so familiarity with research activities across the Institute is required. The Director of Research demonstrates leadership in promoting multidisciplinary, collaborative research and interactions across the Institute and the University System.

Required Qualifications:

•The position requires an advanced degree in science or engineering field and at least 10 years relevant experience, or a BA/BS in science or engineering field and at least 12 years relevant experience.
• Demonstrated record of broad accomplishments in science and engineering.
• Experience in senior leadership and strategic planning.
• Experience in framing research challenges; creating, developing, and maintaining robust research programs.
• Experience creating and leading integrated, diverse, multidisciplinary teams to address complex challenges.
• Experience in providing professional development opportunities to help individuals and teams evolve.
• Significant work experience in, or with, the private sector and/or agency arenas.
• Responsibility for management of large, complex budgets.
• Record of success in attracting sustained grant funding.
• Demonstrated excellent written communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications:

• Experience in applied research, product development and commercialization.
• Experience in intellectual property development and management.
• Experience in ecosystem impact monitoring and/or management.
• Experience in sustainability and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
• Experience in engaging state and federal legislators, agencies, and other leaders.
• Demonstrated excellent verbal communication skills.

Applications must be submitted online. To apply for this position, go to and search for job opening 351129.

Complete applications must include:

●A letter expressing interest, availability, experience, and strengths as they relate to the position.
●A current resume/Curriculum Vitae.
●Contact information for three professional references. 

The cover letter and CV/resume will be attached during the application process. First submit the application and then return to the “My Activities” page to attach the additional

This position will remain open until filled.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

Working at the University

At the University of Minnesota, you’ll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning.  We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off
  • Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship
  • Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans
  • Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • University HSA contributions
  • Disability and employer-paid life insurance
  • Employee wellbeing program
  • Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity
  • Financial counseling services 
  • Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost

Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for more information regarding benefits.

The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission.  The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  To learn more about diversity at the U:

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

Please note: All employees at the University of Minnesota are required to comply with the University’s Administrative Policy: COVID-19 Vaccination and Safety Protocol by either providing proof of being fully vaccinated on their first day of employment, or complete a request for an exemption for medical exemption or religious reasons. To learn more please visit:


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