Associate Director of Chile Operations

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Friday, October 22, 2021
Archive Date: 
Friday, December 3, 2021
The upcoming date less then 1 day.
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

NSF’s NOIRLab has an immediate opening for the Associate Director of Chile Operations for the International Gemini Observatory. The position will be based at the Gemini South facility in La Serena, Chile. The AD of Chile Operations will oversee the science and engineering operations of the Gemini-South telescope during an exciting period. Gemini Observatory is planning the commissioning of several new capabilities at Gemini-South during the next 5 years,  including GHOST (Gemini High Resolution Optical SpecTrograph),  SCORPIO (Spectrograph and Camera for Observations of Rapid Phenomena in the Infrared and Optical), and upgraded GeMS (Gemini-S Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System). Additionally,  Gemini Observatory will partner with the Rubin Observatory and NOIRLab to provide agile follow-up capabilities for time-domain astronomy while maintaining strong support for non-time critical observing programs. The AD of Chile Operations will oversee the implementation of these enhancements at Gemini-South, oversee all operations in Chile, and work closely with Gemini and NOIRLab leadership to develop and implement the Observatory’s response to the U.S. Astro2020 Decadal Survey.   

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at Gemini Observatory, and strongly encourage applicants from local and underrepresented groups. Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

The NSF's NOIRLab is an AURA-managed center headquartered in Tucson, Arizona that integrates the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, Mid-Scale Observatories (MSO), and Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) as a matrix organization with facilities in Arizona, Chile and Hawai`i. 

Essential Functions of the Job: 

  • Oversees the operations of the Gemini-S telescope and the management of Gemini South Science and Engineering Groups.
  • Manages the Operations budget in Chile, including annual planning and quarterly reporting.
  • Oversees the implementation of new capabilities and improvements to Gemini-S operations, including the commissioning of new instruments and telescope improvements.
  • Oversees the maintenance and longevity of the Gemini-S telescope & instruments. 
  • Coordinates with Gemini Associate Director of Hawaii Site to ensure strong user support, develop operations policy, effectively manage resources, and communicate to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Be responsible for developing and fostering a diverse staff and inclusive workplace.
  • Be responsible for maintaining a safe and effective work environment for Gemini’s Chile operations; Works closely with NOIRLab’s safety staff to ensure compliance with all relevant safety, health, and environmental policies, regulations, and best practices.
  • Coordinates with Gemini Deputy Director on local and Chilean staff relations and policies.
  • As a member of the Gemini Directorate, the Associate Director of Chile Operations:
  • Works effectively with the Gemini Directorate to advance Gemini’s mission,  and develops long-range strategic and operations plans.
  • Prepares material for and participates in Gemini Board, advisory/oversight bodies, national/international scientific organizations and meetings

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Ph.D. in Astronomy or Physics or a related field, or the equivalent level in Engineering.
  • Must be fluent in English.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills 
  • 10+ years of experience in observational astronomy and/or telescope operations.
  • Experience in resource and budget management and planning
  • Strong personnel management skills 
  • Outstanding judgment and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or equipment are apparent 
  • Able to work effectively in a culturally diverse, multinational environment.   
  • Able to work independently and in a team environment. 

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

Given the nature of the NSF's NOIRLab organization, proficiency in spoken Spanish and experience in a matrix environment are valued.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands 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.

The work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting and computer usage will be required. Given the international nature of NOIRLab, you may need to travel to the various observatory sites (Arizona and Hawai`i) and other locations for business purposes.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Effective December 8, 2021, AURA will require all U.S. based employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  Vaccination will be a condition of employment, with exemptions granted only for valid medical or religious reasons. This is requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule).  Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all, with most staff working virtually from home during the COVID-19 crisis through December 2021. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape and offers of employment can be extended and new hires will onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in their base job location within a limited time from their start date.

Submission materials: Please include a CV or resume, a cover letter detailing your professional interests and qualifications for the position, and at least 3 professional references. Application deadline is November 15, 2021

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected] 

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA and all of the centers, do not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Included Benefits: 

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.

Application Deadline: 
Friday, November 19, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, December 31, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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