College-level summer teaching positions in SSP Genomics, Biochemistry, or Astronomy

Job title: Academic Director or Assistant Academic Director

Department:  Astrophysics, Biochemistry, or Genomics

Reporting to:  Chief Academic Officer

Schedule:  Temporary full-time (6.5 weeks in June/July)

Location:  TBD with housing included

Travel required: Live on or near one of SSP’s host university campuses for 6.5 weeks during June/July 2024. Additionally, travel is required for one weekend in Spring 2024 for our annual in-person Directors’ meeting.

Salary range: Starting salaries are $16,159 for Assistant Academic Directors (AADs) and $20,884 for Academic Directors (ADs). Returning Directors earn more for each summer of SSP experience.  For faculty who travel to the SSP host campus, housing and meals are provided.


The Summer Science Program (SSP) is an independent non-profit that offers teens an exhilarating and inspiring immersion into hands-on experimental science. Working in teams of three, 36 participants and 7 faculty form a supportive “living and learning community” over 39 days. Each team completes an authentic research project, taking and analyzing original data. Afterward, they join a worldwide network of 2,500+ alumni of all ages. More information can be found at

The AD is the program lead and is thus responsible for supervising, mentoring and evaluating four teaching assistants (TAs), being the point person on programmatic (academic and experimental) decisions, and delegating tasks as needed. Additionally, the AD is responsible for any pre- and post-program requirements such as laboratory or project setup. To serve as an AD, at least one year of AAD experience is typically required.

The AD and AADs will work with the four TAs on the academic side of the SSP experience. SSP will provide lecture slides, lab slides, lab protocols, and the overall program schedule, while the academic directors can and should optimize and customize these documents to match their style and specific campus needs. The AD and AADs will also attend weekly faculty meetings and contribute to the discussion of each participant’s academic growth/accomplishments. Outside of the summer requirements, the AD and AADs have a shared responsibility to complete letters of recommendation (when appropriate) for participants’ college applications. The AAD’s primary responsibility is to lead half of the lecture and laboratory sessions, with the AD leading the other half.

Curious? Attend one of our Summer Employment Webinars to learn more about SSP and these positions.


SSP is committed to increasing the diversity of our participant pool and driven to see that same diversity reflected in our faculty.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • ADs and AADs:
    • Teach junior/senior university-level topics relevant to the research project to a group of 36 high-ability high school students in a fast-paced university environment
    • Work in a close-knit, flexible, and adaptable team that includes the AD, AADs, a Site Director, four university-age TAs (Teaching Assistant & Residential Mentors), and any adjunct instructors and/or laboratory assistants
    • Live on or near campus for 6.5 weeks, attend lunch and dinner with students most days, and participate in occasional field trips and social activities
    • Present background material required for the research projects using lecture outlines, problem sets, laboratory procedures, and other resources provided by SSP as a starting point
    • Ensure the research project is successful
    • Consistently operate within, and be measured with respect to, SSP’s mission and values
    • Other duties as assigned by the Chief Administrative Officer
  • ADs:
    • Supervise, mentor, and evaluate the four teaching assistants (TAs)
    • Be the point person on programmatic (academic and experimental) decisions while delegating tasks as needed
    • Perform any pre- and post-program requirements such as laboratory or project setup.


  • Astrophysics ADs and AADs will supervise students in observing near-Earth asteroids and writing a computer program to calculate the orbital elements of an asteroid given measurements of its position. As such, a PhD in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science, or a closely related field is required for both positions.
  • Biochemistry ADs and AADs will supervise students as they use wet-lab and computer tools to characterize a novel member of an enzyme family implicated in crop infection by fungal pathogens. As such, a PhD in biochemistry, chemistry, or a closely related field is required for both positions.
  • Genomics ADs and AADs will supervise students as they use a custom-built chemostat to evolve a BSL1 bacterium and then, via whole-genome sequencing and annotation, identify implicated mutations. As such, a PhD in microbiology, molecular genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics, or a closely related field is required for both positions.

Skills and Abilities

  • Exceptional interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills are required
  • Intermediate computer skills are required
    • Experience with a suite of productivity apps (Google or Microsoft Office preferred)
    • Experience with a course LMS (such as Canvas or Google Classroom)
  • Has worked as an instructor of record for one or more of the following courses (or similar) at a college level and/or has extensive research experience in the following topic areas:
    • Astronomy:
      • Calculus-based physics
      • Astronomy
      • Programming in Python
      • Celestial mechanics
    • Biochemistry:
      • Biochemistry
      • Molecular modeling
      • Mathematics
      • Bioinformatics
    • Genomics:
      • Microbiology
      • Molecular genetics
      • Bioinformatics
  • Supervision of undergraduate research students, especially in the framework of a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), is desirable but not required
  • Experience providing supportive and critical feedback on undergraduate ‘assignments’ (of which many are writing-intensive) is desirable but not required
    • Experience with AltGrading/Ungrading is desirable but not required

Working Conditions

  • The position is temporary full-time with daily schedules (including provided meals) generally lasting from ~8 AM to ~7 PM with responsibilities shared between the AD and AADs
  • Be energetic and engaging during class periods and be able to navigate the learning space to engage with participants during active-learning activities
  • Be energetic and engaging during lab periods and be able to navigate the laboratory space to engage, supervise, and correct participants as they proceed through experiments
  • Director and weekly meetings are often held outside of typical work hours and local travel may be required to reach the meeting location
  • The working conditions described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job
    • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions

Clearance Requirements

  • Authorization to work in the United States
  • Ability to pass a background check and pre-employment screening

Don’t meet every single requirement? Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for jobs unless they meet every qualification. SSP values a diverse and inclusive workplace. If you are excited about this role but your experience does not align perfectly with all the qualifications, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be just the right candidate for this or other opportunities.