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Vice President, Natural Sciences

John Templeton Foundation seeks to recruit a Vice President, Natural Sciences Department.

About the Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation (Foundation), established in 1987, is one of three charitable entities established to carry out Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision. As a pioneer in both financial investments and philanthropy, Templeton spent a lifetime encouraging open-mindedness. The motto that Templeton created for his Foundation, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” reflects his philosophy in the financial markets and his groundbreaking methods of philanthropy.

Today, the Foundation supports research and engagement on the Big Questions—from evolution to creativity, forgiveness, and free will—by scientists, philosophers and theologians, as well as rigorous research on character, virtue and freedom. The Foundation has a distinctive conviction that flourishing human life has a spiritual dimension. Moreover, the Foundation’s twin beliefs in the ideals of infinite discovery and curiosity encourage a commitment to funding innovative and rigorous scientific research and exploration. The Foundation is governed by a 12-person Board of Trustees, one-fourth of the Board are family members. The largest area of funding is Science and the Big Questions. The financial assets of the Foundation are $3.5 billion, with an annual grant budget of approximately $117 million. For more information about the John Templeton Foundation, please visit their website at dev-templeton-website.pantheonsite.io.

Vice President, Natural Sciences Department

Templeton believed that scientific research, especially on fundamental scientific questions, often has theological and philosophical relevance, and therefore can be a catalyst for theological and spiritual progress. He was optimistic about human ability to learn more about the fundamental nature of reality. He believed that intellectual humility is essential for making progress in science, theology and philosophy and he surrounded himself with scientists who were interested in exploring the deep implications of cutting edge scientific research. He expected the scientific enterprise to yield insights that would be relevant to theologians, philosophers and all kinds of religious communities. And he hoped that by engaging with the results of serious scientific research, religious communities would come to appreciate the value of scientific research for religious belief and practice.  Previously, the Foundation managed its portfolio of grants in the Natural Sciences through two departments—Life Sciences & Genetics, and Math & Physical Sciences.

These have now combined into a single Natural Sciences department with the aim of unifying the approach of the natural sciences portfolios. The Foundation’s investments in the natural sciences have spanned topics as diverse as the nature of black holes and quantum entanglement to the extended evolutionary synthesis and the origins of life.  The Foundation seeks to increase the impact of its natural sciences funding by focusing on a few key priorities and by developing a strategy for funding natural sciences that will pursue deeper questions about the philosophical or even theological implications of the funded work.

The Vice President for Natural Sciences will serve on the Program Leadership Team, working closely with the President to develop strategic alignment across the Foundation’s funding priorities in Science and the Big Questions. The Vice President will be charged with integrating the two departments (Life Sciences & Genetics, and Math & Physical Sciences) and thinking about the scope of work in natural sciences in light of other funding priorities in Science and the Big Questions.

The Vice President will be mindful of how the strategic shape of the Natural Sciences Department aligns with Templeton’s philosophical vision and intent. The position is based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

The Vice President for Natural Sciences will be charged with the following overarching goals and responsibilities:

  • Develop a strategy to identify and support interdisciplinary scientific research, which yields discoveries of scientific import and opens possibilities for theological and philosophical engagement.
  • As part of the Program Leadership team, provide strategic support to the President on matters related to donor intent and other organizational issues that enhance the Foundation’s ability to thoughtfully execute its mission and engagement.
  • Work with other co-funders with similar funding goals to explore synergies and shared grantmaking opportunities.
  • Work with Natural Science Department staff to develop, refine, and implement the Foundation’s strategic plan goals for Natural Sciences.
  • Oversee and promote professional development of Natural Sciences personnel.

The Vice President, Natural Sciences should ideally embody the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

Professional Qualifications

  • Ph.D., in the physical or biological sciences or in philosophy of science. Interdisciplinary background or work in theology, social sciences, or humanities preferred.
  • An ability to think strategically about philanthropic investment in the natural sciences and across a range of fields and disciplines.
  • Proven track record of academic and professional writing and editing.
  • Demonstrated management experience, budgeting and planning skills, and internal team building skills.
  • Ability to manage multiple lines of work simultaneously, and to be timely in meeting deadlines.
  • Ability to generate and deliver clear and persuasive oral and written communications.
  • Ability to inspire trust, to organize teams, and to sustain a positive, productive working environment.
  • Ability to utilize data analytical tools for evaluation and knowledge dissemination.

Personal Attributes

  • Passionate commitment to the Foundation’s mission.
  • Ability to listen to and learn from others.
  • Intellectually humble, curious, and open-minded.
  • Innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • Impeccable integrity.
  • A positive and optimistic spirit.


Compensation for the Vice President, Natural Sciences Department includes a competitive base salary and an excellent employee benefits package.

To Apply

Interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter responding specifically to the experience and qualifications being sought to: Daniel Sherman, President, Explore Company at resumes@explorecompany.com. Refer to JTF/VPNS in the subject line. No phone inquiries please.

John Templeton Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all applicable equal opportunity laws, and invites individuals who bring a diversity of culture, experience and ideas to apply.