No. 22.000 Rev. 2

Fermilab Scientific Appointments


Effective Date 1/31/15



This policy covers all aspects of appointments for scientific staff at Fermilab.

The detailed implementation of this policy is described in the following procedures:



All Fermilab scientific staff. This policy is intended to supplement and not to conflict with applicable WDRS policies and procedures. To the extent these policies do conflict with other WDRS policies, these policies will govern; otherwise, all of the WDRS policies remain in full force and effect.



I. Principles

Personnel practices for scientific staff at Fermilab are based on the following principles:

  1. Fermilab strives to attract and retain scientists of the highest quality, recognizing the laboratory mission of providing accelerators, experimental facilities, and technology that cannot be realized by individual universities, and acknowledging that the laboratory program encompasses activities beyond the laboratory site.
  2. To ensure the excellence of the laboratory's present and future program, it is essential that members of the scientific staff be given the opportunity to engage in self-directed research in areas of science and technology related to laboratory programs.
  3. Every member of the scientific staff is expected to contribute to the development and operation of the laboratory's program. Intellectual contributions in areas of science, technology development, and leadership all shall be equally valued to the mission of the laboratory.
  4. Personnel practices will be uncomplicated and made known to all who are affected by them. They shall be applied fairly and consistently.
  5. Fermilab strives to compete effectively with peer institutions in attracting and retaining scientific staff. The ranks of Fermilab scientists should stand in clear correspondence to professorial ranks in universities. Continuing appointments, in accordance with these policies, are essential to ensure the laboratory's competitiveness.
  6. It is the policy of Fermilab to pursue its scientific goals with an emphasis on equal employment opportunity and a special dedication to human rights, diversity, and dignity.

II. Scientific Positions

  1. Associate Scientist (includes Wilson Fellow and Peoples Fellow): Scientists who have distinguished themselves by a range of contributions in science or technology related to the Laboratory programs may receive a term appointment as an Associate Scientist. The initial appointment is typically for three (3) years. Appointment may be renewed for a maximum of six (6) years in this job classification. This position is roughly equivalent to the position of an Assistant Professor, and is usually the initial appointment in the scientist track. These appointments are made by the Director, after review of the candidate's qualifications by FCSA, or the Wilson or Peoples Fellows committees. Wilson and Peoples Fellows are associate scientist positions that are devoted entirely to research.
  2. Scientist: Scientific staff members who have distinguished themselves by a range of contributions in physics related to the Laboratory programs, technology related to the Laboratory programs, or leadership, may be recognized by an appointment without term limit as Scientist. Appointees may undertake self-directed research in areas related to the Laboratory programs. These appointments are made by the Director, after review of the candidate's qualifications by FCSA or by the Distinguished Scientist committee. The Scientist classification is subdivided into three levels of increasing rank: Scientist, Senior Scientist and Distinguished Scientist (roughly corresponding to university Associate Professor, Full Professor, and Distinguished/University Professor, respectively).

III. Research

Associate Scientists and Scientists may undertake self-directed research in areas related to the Laboratory programs, with the fraction of their time devoted to this being negotiated with the DSC Head or in some instances the Director.

IV. Searches

In order for Fermilab to lead in world-class particle physics, the lab needs to seek out the best talent. Fermilab welcomes and values a diverse and inclusive workforce. We strive to be recognized by our employees and the community as an employer of choice. See the Scientific Search and Hiring Procedure for additional details. Targeted hires, e.g. where there is a need for critical or unique skills, for both term and non-term scientific appointments can be subject to expedited searches, with the approval of the Director.

V. Appointments and Promotions

The Director shall appoint a Fermilab Committee on Scientific Appointments (FCSA) that is involved in an advisory role for the hiring, review, and promotion, of scientific staff. It also has a review role when a member of the scientific staff requires a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) or is considered for a Reduction in Force (RIF). FCSA shall be an advisory committee to the Director. For Senior Scientist to Distinguished Scientist promotions, a separate committee will be formed.

Successful candidates for Associate Scientist appointments will be highly recommended from inside and outside the immediate circle in which they work, and, normally, from members and non-members of the Fermilab staff. They will also be judged to have the potential to make contributions to the Laboratory that will subsequently qualify them for a Scientist appointment. Candidates' abilities are judged on the basis of past career performance, their qualifications with respect to a posted job description, and on their future potential. Associate Scientist appointees typically have the following preferred qualifications:

Scientist appointees typically have the following preferred qualifications:

Promotion to Senior Scientist requires additional accomplishments beyond the level for Scientist in one or more of:

Promotion to Distinguished Scientist requires additional accomplishments beyond the level for Senior Scientist in one or more of:

VI. Extensions and Terminations of Associate Scientists

Associate Scientist appointments may be extended due to a health condition in accordance with laboratory sick, LTD, FMLA and Reasonable Accommodation policies. An Associate Scientist who becomes a parent by birth or adoption prior to promotion consideration will be granted an additional year of their appointment and promotion timeline. Please see the Expectant Parent Brochure. Individuals holding term appointments will be informed of their future status not later than twelve months preceding expiration of that appointment.

VII. Termination of Scientist Appointments

Scientists Appointments will not be terminated except for:

  1. Enforcement of DOE contractual provisions
  2. Financial exigency
  3. Approval of Long Term Disability claim, unless an accommodation has been granted in accordance with WDRS' Reasonable Accomodation Policies
  4. Adequate cause (i.e. Scientific Misconduct, disciplinary or substandard performance)

In the event that a Scientist must be terminated due to performance, the procedure for the process can be found here.

Special procedures are to be followed whenever Laboratory funding constraints result in a need to reduce the number of scientists employed by the Laboratory, and DOE has agreed to initiating a Reduction in Force. These procedures include extended notification periods for Scientists and additional scientific outplacement assistance.

VIII. Scientific Conduct

The laboratory strives to adhere to the highest standards of scientific conduct. Cases of alleged scientific misconduct are handled by the Scientific Research Misconduct Procedure.

IX. Emeritus Scientific Appointments

Emeritus appointment is bestowed as an honor upon retired distinguished scientists in recognition of meritorious service to the Laboratory. It is awarded and held at the discretion of the Director. This is not a paid employment appointment. None of the guidelines that apply to other Scientific Appointments apply. Candidates for Emeritus appointment typically meet the following expectations:

X. Management Positions

Fermilab scientists frequently assume laboratory and project management roles with a different job classification. They will retain their scientific appointment, and return to it upon the completion of their term.

XI. Appeals on Appointment Procedure

Actions taken or proposed relative to Scientists and Associate Scientists can be appealed through the normal grievance procedure. Appeals should be in written form.


In the event of a conflict, the provisions of Appendix A of the prime contract take precedence over the provisions of this policy or any other Fermilab form or guidance document.

This policy is not a contract or guarantee of any kind and is not intended to create any obligations on the Laboratory. This policy may be terminated or changed by the Laboratory at any time, with or without notice, in the Laboratory's sole discretion.