Sr. Scientist for Special Projects (690-500)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, December 2, 2017
Archive Date: 
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
Universities Space Research Association
Moffett Field
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Position Summary:

The Sr. Scientist for Special Projects will lead, coordinate and manage special science projects on behalf of the Science Mission Operations Director, which entails: collaborating with scientists, technical personnel, NASA, management and other stakeholders, gathering data, coordinating science projects, analyzing results and developing reports / documentation. The Sr. Scientist for Special Projects will be responsible for determining science project milestones and delivering progress reports.

The Sr. Scientist for Special Projects will have 25% time available for scientific research relevant to the SOFIA program.


Essential Duties/Responsibilities:


Serve as scientific advisor to lead efforts to address / respond to SOFIA science issues that arise, such as 2018 Senior Review, ad hoc requests from NASA, cycle selection, cycle planning, program issues, etc.

Lead cross-departmental science meetings to share information and improve planning, prioritization and decision making

Work with NASA to develop the near-term and long-term science plans for the Observatory.

Coordinate science related core activities and IDIQ task orders with regard to prioritization (with NASA), staffing, resources, cost and schedule, and program performance.

Develop processes to provide more scientific support to Guest Observers to support research / publications

Develop tools / processes to measure science productivity

Work closely with the Director and the Program Manager to ensure contract compliance, monitor the quality of science deliverables and positively influence SOFIA program metrics

Support the NASA Project Scientist including the development of Senior Review Proposals.

Oversee, monitor, and occasionally prepare monthly, quarterly, and annual reports related to SOFIA science productivity

Assess and adjust to changing situations, identify and implement innovative solutions to make improvements as needed

Additional Duties as assigned


Required Qualifications:




PhD in Astronomy, Physics, or related field




Minimum of 15 years of experience, beyond the PhD, in astronomical research

Expert in Airborne Observatory Operations highly desirable

A background in ground and /or space based infrared or sub-millimeter Astronomy is desired.

Experience with multi-disciplined projects including science and engineering, software development, and business systems.


Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  


Technical Skills: Expert and broad knowledge of infrared astronomy and observatory operations.

Analytical Skills: Excellent analytical and abstract reasoning skills.

Independence / Initiative: Able to work independently with little supervision and take initiative to complete duties and anticipate upcoming tasks.

Planning and Organization: Demonstrated track record of setting and meeting goals. Strong organizational skills with an ability to balance competing demands. Ability to set priorities, analyze and resolve problems, and make decisions in a timely fashion. Highly detail oriented and deadline-driven, with superior organizational skills. Ability to prioritize and multi-task with accuracy and speed.

Interpersonal Skills / Communications: An effective communicator at all levels in the organization, with strong oral and written skills and a willingness to share information.  Excellent written and oral communication skills. A collaborative and flexible style. Strong teamwork and the ability to work effectively with co-workers, customers, and supervisor in a professional and courteous manner.

Computer Skills: High-level technical and computer skills, including above average knowledge of the Microsoft Office applications.


Working Conditions:


The employee must be capable of performing all duties in a technical /scientific setting including offices, laboratories, shops, and aircraft maintenance facilities as well as on the aircraft / observatory, both while on the ground and during flights.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, walk, sit, and use hands. Keyboarding for large time spans each day will be a significant part of this position.

The employee may need to lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.

Employees must be prepared to work night shift operations when scheduled to do so (less than 10% of their time), and occasional weekend and holiday work.

Employees work on a NASA contract in a highly visible public setting. There can be no expectation of personal privacy while performing the job.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee will be exposed to fumes or airborne particles. The employee will be exposed to moving equipment, vehicles and mechanical parts and a noise level consistent with a laboratory / aircraft operation.  The noise level in the work office environment is typically   The environment on the aircraft during flight operations may become noisy, cold, and tiring.




Domestic and international travel required as needed.



Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita.  Review of candidates will begin immediately.  Additional information on USRA can be found at


USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
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Ben Tanis
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