PNNL Careers

S&T Communications Partner, Earth and Biological Sciences


Job Description

Job ID: 307158
Full/Part Time: Full-Time
Regular/Temporary: Regular

Job Description

The Invitation:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to collaboration and work–life balance. Dynamic, adaptable people come to PNNL to work smarter and work together on high-impact projects and initiatives for the U.S. Department of Energy and many other sponsors. They focus on meaningful work, innovation and outcomes. At PNNL, you’ll find a positive, fast-paced environment and excellent benefits including pension, matching 401(k), tuition reimbursement plans, health insurance, flexible work schedules and telework options. PNNL is located in eastern Washington State, an area known for its outdoor recreation, thriving wine industry and affordable cost of living.

The Opportunity:
Build and implement an impactful strategy to communicate PNNL’s research work in the areas of Earth and Biological Sciences. The Science and Technology (S&T) Communications group – within PNNL’s Communications Division – is a newly formed team focused on delivering stellar customer service, counsel and communications planning for leaders across the lab’s science and technology mission areas. We’re seeking a proactive communications professional with experience in strategic planning, project management and a love of science to guide and oversee communications strategy and implementation for the lab’s Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate. This is a unique role for a seasoned, strategic communicator who has a passion for science and deep expertise related to earth science, biology, microbiology and/or terrestrial ecosystems.

As S&T Communications Partner, you will provide direct communications support for the Associate Laboratory Director for Earth and Biological Systems. You will form and nurture collaborative relationships with other senior leaders and scientific staff within the directorate in order to develop a keen understanding of their science, their audiences, and their goals. You will play a lead role in telling the laboratory’s science story, with special emphasis on topics including earth systems, the microbiome, biodefense and cancer. Working with your partners and fellow communications staff, you’ll ensure that each communications project or product is aligned with the laboratory’s mission, vision and communications strategy; is appropriate for the intended audience; stimulates a preferred action; and meets the partners’ goals and expectations. You will also suggest strategies, objectives and tactics that continually evolve the quality and impact of the laboratory’s communications efforts.

The Ideal Candidate:
If you are a strong communicator who also has extensive experience leading scientific or technical communications strategy – particularly related to earth science or biology – we want to connect with you! Specifically, we’re looking for candidates who will leverage their combined knowledge of Earth or biological sciences and communications planning to develop and implement creative and compelling approaches that will resonate with our audiences. Successful candidates will also be excellent project managers who can work effectively in a matrixed organization to move ideas from concept to implementation. A passion for basic scientific research is essential.

Authority and Accountability:
As a counselor, strategist and primary point of contact:
• Build and maintain outstanding relationships with the partners, including the Associate Laboratory Director, division directors, researchers, and projects staff covering earth science, biology, microbiology and/or terrestrial ecosystem research.
• Leverage and maintain sophisticated knowledge of the subject matter and trends in these scientific areas.
• Maintain a keen understanding of the lab’s key audiences for these areas, including funding sponsors, scientific associations, external collaborators, trade media and other stakeholders with whom we want to amplify our impact.
• Create and maintain editorial calendars; anticipate major communications efforts for these areas.
• Prepare and/or lead presentations on these topics for the lab’s leading scientists.

As a project manager:
• Work with partners and internal teams to ensure that each communications project or product is aligned with the laboratory’s mission, vision and communications strategy; is appropriate for the intended audience; stimulates a preferred action; and meets the partners’ goals and expectations.
• Using project management/workflow software, originate projects and collaborate with Communications Division managers to ensure that resources are allocated to complete the project or product. Oversee day-to-day production details related to each project or product as needed, ensuring quality and on-time delivery of all components.
• Organize and review any currently available content at the start of each project or product. Serve as facilitator and scheduler of the project.
• Send drafts, proofs or staging links to partners, receive their changes and feedback, mark up proofs using appropriate notations and pass along feedback to appropriate team members. Clearly convey feedback respectfully, in writing and orally.
• Take the lead in problem solving with partners and fellow communications staff. Look for opportunities to improve and enhance communication and service to partners.
• Accept accountability for final signoff of communications materials, approving quality and fit-for-purpose of each deliverable.
• As needed, lead and participate in team meetings at key points during production.
• As needed, provide high-level tactical support.

As a senior communicator in PNNL’s Communications Division:
• Report regularly to the Associate Laboratory Director, Science and Technology Communications Manager and to the Director of Communications on the strategy efforts, projects, priorities and initiatives related to the lab’s earth science, biology, microbiology and terrestrial ecosystem divisions/projects/initiatives.
• Represent the Communications Division at researchers’ team meetings.
• Lead segments as appropriate at Communications leadership team and all-staff meetings.
• Recommend new approaches, policies and procedures to effect continual improvement.
• Advocate for strategic communications processes and results-oriented tactics.
• Demonstrate exemplary customer service.

Equal Employment Opportunity

PNNL is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer that is committed to hiring a diverse, talented workforce. EOE Disability/Vet/M/F/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity. Staff at PNNL must be able to demonstrate the legal right to work in the United States.

Preferred Qualifications

Familiarity with major scientific publications, editors, bloggers, reporters, and influencers in earth science, biology, microbiology and terrestrial ecosystems.
• Understanding of media outreach and social media planning.
• Active professional society membership and roles.
• Familiarity with project management software.
• Ability to develop compelling editorial content that tells the stories of PNNL scientists and their work in a gripping, persuasive manner.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
• Deep subject matter understanding of and experience in communicating science in the areas of earth science, biology, microbiology and/or terrestrial ecosystems.
• Ability to understand and support a scientific mission for Department of Energy Office of Science and related funding organizations.
• Experience interacting with and understanding the needs and mission relevance of sponsoring agencies, such as Department of Energy Office of Science Biological and Environmental Research (BER) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH); ability to integrate their wants, needs and preferences into communications strategy.
• Understanding of current research and the challenges, opportunities and trends in earth science, biology, microbiology and/or terrestrial ecosystems.
• Proven track record of effective collaboration with and strategic support for senior executives that includes offering counsel and building action-oriented communications plans.
• Demonstrated success developing and implementing strategic communications plans and principles.
• Strong customer service orientation and comfort and familiarity working with scientists, engineers, programmers and researchers.
• Excellent written, oral, interpersonal and project management skills with the creative talent to refine complex technical scientific content into short, crisp, clear and impactful messages; experience leading, overseeing and/or editing the work of other communicators.
• Experience building communications strategies for major events and initiatives.
• Ability to understand and synthesize complex scientific information into engaging language and concepts that are understood by multiple audiences.
• Familiarity with scientific publications and experience understanding their content.

Organization and Job ID

Job ID: 307158
Directorate: Communications and Information Technology
Division: Communications
Group: Science and Technical Communications

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor's degree plus 7 years of experience; or advanced degree plus 4 years of experience.

Bachelor's degree in communications, marketing, public relations, English, or journalism, earth science, biology, microbiology, or a related field.