SRDP Project Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Archive Date: 
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Department Name: 
Street Line 1: 
1003 Lopezville Rd
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is seeking an experienced technical and scientific leader to serve as project scientist for the Science Ready Data Products (SRDP) project. The SRDP project will change radio astronomy by delivering data products that are ready to use for scientific study by a wide range of astronomers, including those not expert in interferometry, thereby making radio astronomy more accessible to the broader astronomical community.  A major Observatory initiative, the multi-year SRDP project is a significant investment (over one hundred FTE years) to deliver “science center functionality” for NRAO’s interferometers.  This project builds on the success of the pipelines already in use for ALMA, the VLA, and the VLA Sky Survey, and continues NRAO’s role as a pioneer in radio astronomy.

The successful candidate will have demonstrated excellence in three primary areas: technical leadership of a diverse scientific team, active scientific research using radio interferometry (particularly the VLA and ALMA telescopes), and experience with existing radio data reduction pipelines.  The incumbent will have the combination of scientific, technical, and leadership skills necessary to encourage and accept a diverse set of inputs from domain experts, assess and synthesize those inputs into a coherent set of prioritized scientific requirements, translate those into technical requirements, and build consensus support for the way forward.

The appointment will be made to the NRAO scientific staff at the Associate Scientist or Scientist level depending on the successful candidate’s experience. NRAO staff scientists are expected to spend 25% of their time carrying out an independently directed research program, which has synergies with NRAO facilities.  A more research focused appointment may be considered for an exceptional applicant. 

This position will be located in either Charlottesville, Virginia, or Socorro, New Mexico.

Job Duties Summary

The Project Scientist: Science Ready Data Products (SRDP) will be responsible for the definition, prioritization, and validation of the system and technical-level project requirements. These tasks will be accomplished through scientific and technical leadership of the SRDP Requirements Committee and the SRDP Heuristics team.  The Project Scientist for SRDP will report to the Project Director: SRDP.

As the ex officio chair of the SRDP Requirements Committee, the Project Scientist will lead the process of defining the stakeholder requirements, and translating these to system-level requirements for each cycle of implementation. Once the priorities for each development cycle are defined, the Project Scientist will work with the project administration team to decompose the high-level system requirements to subsystem-level technical requirements.  Heuristics designed to address the requirements will be developed by the heuristics team, a group of technical experts drawn from across the Observatory, under the leadership and direction of the Project Scientist. The Project Scientist will work closely with the NRAO Data Management and Software (DMS) implementation team to ensure the delivery of the scientific objectives of the SRDP project.

The Project Scientist will coordinate the effort to validate the SRDP functionality, and formally accept SRDP deliverables from DMS for use in operations. To optimize the Observatory effort, the Project Scientist will identify commonality between ALMA and VLA applications and execute an integrated testing process.

The Project Scientist will advocate for the SRDP project in the scientific community, serving as a spokesperson for the project and increasing project visibility in appropriate community meetings and other forums.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) strongly believes that a diverse staff is critical for our mission to enable world-class science. Our employees, essential to our success, are to be valued, treated with respect, and have opportunities to work in an inclusive, multi-cultural and gender diverse environment. NRAO staff and management are responsible and accountable for achieving these goals.

The functional work will entail:

  • Establishing stakeholder requirements and set implementation priorities for the project through leadership of the SRDP Requirements Committee.
  • Leading the SRDP heuristics team in definition and validation of subsystem requirements.
  • Maintaining staffing effort estimates for the heuristics team, prioritize and assign effort for requirement definition and validation.
  • Developing and execute acceptance processes for SRDP feature implementations.
  • With the Project Director: SRDP and AD: SSR engage the user community and advocate for the SRDP project.

Work Environment

The successful candidate will join a team of professionals engaged in research and development in the fields of science, engineering, software development, and education.  Work is typically performed in a research or development environment.  Must be able to operate a personal computer. May occasionally work at high altitudes.  Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.  Some travel will be required.

Minimum Education

PhD in astronomy or astronomical computing

Minimum Experience

At least five years of relevant experience in astronomy and data analysis, reduction of data from interferometer systems, including the development and specification of detailed requirements for data reduction and the subsequent validation of the implementation.  Demonstrated success in managing a scientific team and evidence of an ability to synthesize competing scientific inputs and priorities.  Experience in scientific leadership, consensus building, and conflict resolution. Candidates with at least seven years of relevant experience will be considered for a higher position rank.

Competency Summary

Excellent written and verbal communication skills particularly of technical specifications. Scientific experience with interferometric techniques and challenges in the range of frequencies spanning the NRAO interferometers. Evidence of an ability to facilitate the interactions between scientific and computing staff will be an advantage.   Extensive experience with the CASA package is highly desirable.

Application Instructions:

You will need the following materials, combined in a single pdf file to upload to the ADD RESUME button at the beginning of the application process:

  1. Cover letter stating why you are interested in this position – the letter should describe how you match the position and qualifications summarized above (no more than 3 pages).
  2. Curriculum vitae including publications list.
  3. Summary of past technical and observational experience relevant to this position (2 pages).
  4. Summary of past research (2 pages).
  5. Plan for future research describing specifically use of, and synergies with, NRAO facilities and observatory goals and priorities (3 pages).

Each applicant should arrange for letters of reference to be submitted by three individuals familiar with their scientific abilities directly to  These letters must be received by February 28, 2018.  Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of reference have been sent.  All required application documents, with the exception of reference letters, should be combined into a single file and uploaded when the application is submitted.  The deadline for receipt of complete applications is February 28, 2018.  Please direct inquiries to Jeff Kern (

The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)

Included Benefits: 

NRAO offers competitive pay, generous leave policy, and excellent benefits – medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. Our retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay; no contribution is required of the employee (after one year of employment).  NRAO also offers an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, March 30, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Dr. Jeff Kern
SRDP Project Scientist