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Director of the Large Lakes Observatory

Job Details

The University of Minnesota is seeking a new Director of the Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) in the Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE) on the Duluth campus (UMD). We invite candidates with backgrounds in limnology, oceanography, or a related discipline. The successful candidate must have experience in leading an internationally recognized research program in any aspect of oceanography or large lakes research, and must be committed to furthering basic research on large lakes of the world. This position is a full time 12-month leadership position with an anticipated start date in summer 2024. The Director of the Large Lakes Observatory has overall strategic and operational responsibility for LLO’s staff, programs and execution of its mission. Facilities that support LLO faculty and administrative, scientific and maritime staff include research and office spaces, the 86-foot UNOLS research vessel Blue Heron and its supporting facilities, and large, multi-user instrumentation.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

Leadership & Management (35%)

  • Provide leadership, oversight and implementation of LLO’s mission and strategic goals Manage operations, and coordinate LLO staff and resources (space, equipment, budget) to serve organizational needs. Represent LLO on the SCSE Department Head and Directors leadership team Supervise and manage LLO staff Provide input to University reviews of tenured and probationary LLO faculty. Build & continually foster a diverse & inclusive community of researchers and students.

Research and Teaching (30%)

  • Maintain a world-class externally funded research program Engage with graduate programs including graduate student mentoring. Participation in graduate courses is encouraged.

Fundraising and Communications (25%)

  • Communicate the importance of LLO’s mission and activities to internal and external stakeholders (local, national, and international) In partnership with the Dean and SCSE Development officer, assist with fundraising efforts for LLO Oversee LLO Communication strategies Oversee LLO public outreach programs

Business (10%)

  • Oversee and manage fiscal operations of LLO, including internal and external sales Serve as liaison between LLO and the SCSE Dean’s office Ensure fiscal responsibility of using university resources.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Academic Background: PhD in a STEM discipline with a developed research program in Oceanography, Limnology or Large Lake Systems. Experience in leading a high-level academic research unit or program.

Preferred Qualifications

  • A strong record of obtaining research funding and publishing high-impact scientific results. Experience managing and working with professionals. Excellent understanding of the issues and challenges of both basic and translational research. Experience in managing a budget structure that depends on multiple funding sources. Experience in attracting, developing and managing public-private partnerships. Experience building, fostering, and maintaining inclusive collegial academic communities. Demonstrated aptitude for building partnerships and mutually beneficial collaboration. Demonstrated skill in fundraising for programs.

About the Department

The LLO is a research institute dedicated to study of the large lakes of the world. Current LLO faculty hold appointments in UMD’s Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Physics departments, bringing a strong interdisciplinary dimension to research, education, and outreach conducted at LLO. LLO ( is approaching its fourth decade of operation. LLO’s outlook and activities are global, with current research on lakes in East Africa, Asia, and North, Central, and South America, as well as coastal ocean environments and ancient aquatic systems. LLO is part of an established community in limnology at the University of Minnesota that includes the basic science departments and the Center for Water and Environment on the Duluth campus, and the Limnological Research Center, science and engineering departments, the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, and the Continental Scientific Drilling Facility on the Twin Cities campus. LLO scientists also work closely with other governmental and non-profit environmental groups in the Duluth area, including the Natural Resources Research Institute, the Duluth EPA laboratory, the St Louis Estuary National Estuarine Research Reserve. LLO is affiliated with the Water Resources Science and the Integrated Biosciences Programs (both joint Twin Cities-Duluth MS – PhD graduate programs). LLO operates the only UNOLS research vessel on the Great Lakes, the R/V Blue Heron.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted online. To apply, go to and search for job ID 358208. First, submit the application with a cover letter and CV/resume in pdf format. Then, return to the “My Job Applications” page to attach the additional documents, also in pdf format. Complete applications include the online application, cover letter, and resume/CV, plus additional documents as follows:

(1) List of three references,

(2) Diversity statement, and

(3) Research statement

Even if you provide this information within the application, you must also attach the requested additional document(s). Please do not miss this important step in the application process. Applications missing any of these documents may not be reviewed.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate authorization to work in the United States at the University of Minnesota-Duluth by the start date. Final candidates may be asked to provide additional information.

If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please contact a University of Minnesota Access Consultant at 612-624-3316.

If you have started receiving retirement annuity payments from the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) or Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), your eligibility for this position may be impacted. Please contact MSRS or PERA for any eligibility limitations.

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.


The University of Minnesota Duluth values diversity and inclusion and believes they are essential to achieving excellence. We have a strong institutional commitment to diversity in all areas and strongly encourage women, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, Black, Latinx, Asian American, Hawaiian/Island Pacific, mixed race and disabled scholars to apply. We favor candidates who can contribute to the College's distinctive educational objectives, which promote interdisciplinary perspectives, intercultural understanding, and concern with social responsibility and the ethical implications of knowledge and action.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Veterans and individuals from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. 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:

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 theRegents 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.

About the U of M

The University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) consistently ranks among the top Midwestern, regional universities in U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges" issue.

Overlooking Lake Superior, UMD provides an alternative to both large research and small liberal arts environments and attracts students looking for a personalized learning experience on a medium-sized campus of a major university. A firm liberal arts foundation anchors a variety of traditional degree programs, as well as professional and graduate students that draw on UMD's many research institutes and labs.

At the University of Minnesota, we are proud to be recognized by the Star Tribune as a Top Workplace for 2021, as well as by Forbes as Best Employers for Women and one of America’s Best Employers (2015, 2018, 2019, 2023), Best Employer for Diversity (2019, 2020), Best Employer for New Grads (2018, 2019), and Best Employer by State (2019, 2022).

UMD is a regional comprehensive land- and sea-grant state university, one of five coordinate campuses within the State of Minnesota system and with a total enrollment of approximately 9,000 students. SCSE is the largest college at UMD comprising approximately 2800 undergraduate students, 250 graduate students, 180 faculty, and 80 permanent staff. The college includes the science departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Physics and Astronomy, and Mathematics and Statistics, as well as the ABET-accredited departments of Computer Science, Electrical, Chemical, Civil and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. There are significant opportunities for fostering existing and creating new ties with local, regional, and national industry stakeholders. 

Situated at the western tip of Lake Superior, the city of Duluth offers an enticing selection of adventures for four season outdoor enthusiasts as well as a rich variety of cultural opportunities.  Metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul is less than three hours south of Duluth.

A dynamic city on a hill situated at the western tip of Lake Superior, Duluth was named Outdoor magazine’s Best Outdoors Town in 2014, celebrating its access to the outdoors and to Lake Superior -- the largest freshwater lake on earth by area. Duluth is home to hundreds of miles of biking, hiking, and skiing trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail, a 300+ mile trail intersecting Duluth, and the Duluth Traverse, an 85-mile multi-use biking and hiking trail stretching across town. In addition to the outdoors, the Twin Ports area has vibrant music, arts, crafts and craft brewing scenes, and a variety of award-winning restaurants. Duluth is a truly wonderful place to live, with great schools, health care, and affordable housing. It mixes its historic small-town feel with a dynamic urban economy and many cultural offerings.

Duluth, with a population of approximately 85,000 people, is located at the head of beautiful Lake Superior. As a major shipping port, over 1,000 vessels from around the world pass under its iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, annually. Duluth is a popular tourist destination, with 3.5 million people visiting the city annually, for a $780 million economic impact. More information about Duluth can be found at




The Swenson College of Science & Engineering includes all the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) at UMD. With more than 3,200 undergraduate and 200 graduate students, Swenson College is the largest college at UMD and the third largest in the University of Minnesota system. Swenson College is the home of five science (Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics, and Physics & Astronomy) and five engineering (Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) departments. Swenson College is the home of the Large Lakes Observatory and the Advanced Materials Center. The Iron Range Engineering Program and the Air Force ROTC Aerospace Studies program are housed in Swenson College. We also are the home for the Integrated Biosciences and Water Resources Science interdisciplinary graduate programs. We have close affiliations with the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and the Minnesota Sea Grant Program. See for what we have to offer at the College and UMD, at the University of Minnesota, and in Duluth.

The University of Minnesota Duluth campus is part of the University of Minnesota public university system and is the second largest research university within the U of M system. UMD is a comprehensive university of about 11,000 students located along the shores of Lake Superior. Duluth is the largest city in northern Minnesota and part of the Twin Ports metropolitan area (Duluth, MN and Superior, WI). The Twin Ports area hosts four colleges/universities, two major hospitals, many retail and manufacturing companies, and the largest commercial port on the Great Lakes. Duluth has vibrant music, theater, and arts scenes, and a steadily increasing number of craft breweries and award-winning restaurants. Duluth offers affordable housing, an absence of appreciable traffic, and mixes its historic feel with a dynamic urban economy and many cultural offerings. Named by Outdoor Magazine as one of America’s Best Outdoors Towns, Duluth provides access to hundreds of miles of biking, hiking, and skiing trails and abundant opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and sailing.


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