Communications Specialist II

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Archive Date: 
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Combine your creativity and love of science by joining the outreach team at the National Solar Observatory. We are seeking a talented science communications specialist to join our outreach team in Maui Hawaiʻi, where your focus will be on crafting stories about the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. You will also help to highlight the valuable work being conducted elsewhere at NSO, including at our headquarters in Boulder, CO. You will work between the outreach team, who are dedicated to sharing the excitement of solar astronomy with the public, and with the technical experts to highlight the cutting-edge work being done at the worlds largest solar telescope. You will be based in our offices in Pukalani, although you’ll travel to the Inouye Solar Telescope site on Haleakala (10,000 ft elevation) with reasonable frequency. Occasional travel to Boulder, CO or other locations may be required.

NSO is the national center for ground-based solar physics in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation Division of Astronomical Sciences.

About the education, outreach and communication team

This position will report to the head of education, outreach and communication (EOC). This small but mighty team of three is the public facing front of NSO. The team is dedicated to highlighting and promoting research conducted at NSO and supporting the growth and development of the next generation of solar observatory employees, in particular those who are traditionally underrepresented in solar astronomy and engineering.

About you

You are a creative, highly motivated, engaged and driven science communicator looking for an opportunity to put your skills to the test at the world’s largest solar telescope. You are a self-starter, can juggle multiple projects at once, and are not afraid to try new things. You collaborate well with others, and have experience writing about complicated concepts for a general audience.  You thrive in an environment that offers you significant freedom to develop novel solutions, but you also have a proven commitment to excellence, effectiveness, and efficiency. You have a demonstrated interest in nurturing diverse workplaces and understand the critical role that science communication plays in cultivating inclusive environments.

Position summary

The Communications Specialist will be responsible for developing and implementing the media engagement strategy for NSO and projects therein as directed by the NSO’s Head of Education, Outreach and Communications (EOC). This position will include writing media releases that will be disseminated through the print and broadcast media, and working with new-media strategies such as online blogging and social media. It will also include internally focused communications efforts in support of the NSO Director and high level leadership as needed. The Communications Specialist will be responsible for sourcing stories from within NSO and the NSO user community, with the support of the EOC team.

Essential Functions:

  • Develop and execute communication strategy for print, online, broadcast and social media at NSO.
  • Write and edit news releases, media advisories and other new and traditional media materials in close coordination with NSO EOC, researchers, AURA communications and NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA). Coordinate with partner institutions for distribution of materials. 
  • Dissemination of content and messages that enhance the image and increase awareness and understanding of NSO research, its staff, users and other stakeholders in collaboration with the head of EOC, AURA and NSF.
  • Identify and strengthen relations with traditional and new/social media to produce positive coverage. Actively develop and pitch stories, story ideas, op-eds and other content to the media. Maintain a contact list for science media. Respond to press inquiries.
  • Direct and execute public and media relations campaigns for critical scientific research, grant awards, honors and accomplishments, and local/national public and educational outreach programs and initiatives.
  • Develop materials for a variety of audiences, for example policy makers, educators, the general public, journalists.

Other Functions:

  • Collaboratively develop web content with NSO science and technical teams, webmaster and others.
  • Conceptualize innovative ways to inform key audiences about news, research and events. This may include collaborating on stories, animations, video products, photography and other strategically-valuable, timely communications tools.
  • Other duties as assigned

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Bachelor's Degree in public relations, communications, marketing or a related field or relevant scientific or engineering field. Equivalent education and experience will be considered
  • 3+ years relevant professional experience
  • Demonstrated experience in writing about complicated concepts for a general audience
  • Demonstrated experience in establishing effective collaborative relationships with people in a variety of different roles and technical positions to fulfill the demands of the role
  • Knowledge of journalism ethics, rules, and procedures
  • Ability to deliver quality products in a fast-paced environment on time and with consistency
  • Must have a valid Driver’s License

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Familiarity with science or engineering concepts, preferably astronomy
  • Knowledge of current communications best practices, and experience implementing them
  • Familiarity with local Hawaii cultural issues and sensitivity to indigenous people’s concerns
  • Crisis Communications experience
  • Photography/videography experience
  • Willingness to work as part of a small team and occasionally support colleagues in tasks outside of normal priorities

AURA offers an excellent benefits package, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a stimulating work environment.  

Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

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

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 National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, 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 does 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. 

Included Benefits: 

AURA offers an excellent benefits package, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a stimulating work environment.  

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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