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Director of Science

Avalanche Energy

Avalanche Energy

Seattle, WA, USA
Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Avalanche is a Seattle-based start-up developing fusion microreactors for clean, energy-dense power generation at a scale you can hold in your hands. Our unique approach allows us to build, test, break, learn and iterate on reactors in days to weeks. The modular design is designed to provide power to applications from austere environments to deep sea vehicles and maritime transport to lunar power.

We know we have an incredibly ambitious mission, and that it requires a wide combination of skills, attitude, and grit to make it happen. If you have a passion for abundant energy, and how we can improve life with it, we want to have a chat with you.

Avalanche might be fit for you if: You are self-motivated, energized by problem solving and working closely with hardware. You enjoy hands-on, creative collaboration with a small, tight-knit team you can work with, laugh with, and learn with on a wide variety of topics. You can learn and pivot between priorities when necessary and you can slide the headphones on, focus, and auger deep into a single topic as needed. You thrive in an atmosphere of development, and you are an ardent learner who's always looking for ways to grow and improve.

About the role:

As the scope and scale of Avalanche's operations has grown we have opened a role for a Director of Science. Our team has rapidly doubled in size to 40+ employees and we have three operational fusion machines running plasma experiments daily. We also have a number of test cells developing sub-systems such as ion sources, direct energy extraction and high voltage feedthroughs. The Director of Science is a leadership position responsible for overseeing and directing the scientific research behind our fusion test cells. This role requires a deep understanding of physics principles, excellent managerial skills, and a passion and vision to drive innovation and achieve organizational goals. You want to be part of a mission that matters, namely bringing the world's most compact fusion reactors to market on a timescale that is relevant to help solve climate change.

In this role, you will:

  • Define, maintain, and manage the scientific direction and strategy of the project from start to finish including setting goals and keeping the team focused on individual tasks to sufficiently move the project forward.
  • Ensure that intermediate milestones are in the most efficient order and support testing, design reviews and assessment of the system against requirements.
  • Solicit input from the science team and lead formulation of near term and long-range research agenda in close collaboration with the project manager and science lead.
  • Provide guidance and support to a high-performing team of scientists and researchers, encouraging professional growth and development.
  • Oversee the scientific integrity of the project and stay abreast of emerging technologies and advancements that will guide future research directions.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional management teams to align scientific initiatives with overall business objectives.
  • Document, synthesize, and report on scientific progress including experiment summaries, simulation status, and decisions with company executives and the broader team.
  • Accountable for recurring, concise communication of technical progress and technical problems.
  • Final decisional authority for the technical approach that maintains a balance between resource allocation (people, hardware, facilities), scientific rigor, and accomplishment of time bound fundraising milestones.
  • Direct & support publication strategy and plan.
  • Travel for conferences, supplier visits, meetings or company offsite events as required (up to 20%).

About you:

  • Ph.D. degree in physics, engineering, or relevant scientific discipline.
  • 10+ years experience in scientific research, with a proven track record of strong leadership and project completion.
  • Experience leading high-performing teams with a knack for managing complex problems.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills with an emphasis on effectively presenting and collaborating with internal stakeholders.
  • Prior experience managing physics research projects.
  • Knowledge of solid, liquid, and gaseous dielectric breakdown.
  • Experience with electromagnetic design and analysis.
  • Experience designing and analyzing high voltage circuits.
  • Familiarity with multiphysics simulation tools such as COMSOL.
  • Hardworking, enthusiastic attitude with a track record of overcoming challenges.

Bonus skills & experience:

  • MBA or PMP certification.
  • Experience with high voltage systems in vacuum.
  • Experience with high energy plasmas.
  • Experience with plasma simulation codes including Particle-in-Cell (PIC).
  • Experience working in the fusion industry.
  • Experience with COMSOL/FEM analysis.


  • Excellent medical, dental and vision benefits: We pay 100% of your premiums
  • 10 paid holidays and company-wide December holiday break
  • Generous paid vacation and sick time
  • Small, tight-knit team with low barriers to action
  • Exposure to a wide variety of problems for unparalleled, hands-on professional growth
  • Weekly employer provided team meals, a well-stocked kitchen, and employee events on and off-site
  • Meaningful equity in the form of stock options

Avalanche values people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, and sexual orientations. We also acknowledge the value that different life experiences bring to our organization. Avalanche is an equal opportunity employer, and you do not need to match every listed expectation to apply for this position. We encourage all individuals who are excited about delivering fusion energy to the world to apply.