Assistant Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Monday, April 1, 2019
Archive Date: 
Monday, June 3, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Department Name: 
Array Science Center
Street Line 1: 
1003 Lopezville Road
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) mission is to enable forefront research into the Universe at radio wavelengths. In partnership with the scientific community, we:

  • Provide world leading telescopes, instrumentation and expertise,
  • Train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and
  • Promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.

The NRAO is recruiting a scientific staff position to be located in Socorro, NM, the home of the Domenici Science Operations Center (DSOC), which houses the scientific, engineering, technical, computer and support staff for the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).  This scientist position will be focused primarily on development of new VLA capabilities and technical support for VLA observations.  NRAO scientists are expected to carry out independent research; those at the DSOC have opportunities to become expert users of the VLA, which can be of great benefit to their own research.

Job Duties Summary

NRAO staff scientists are expected to support the Observatory and telescope user community through functional duties.  For this position, such duties might include working in areas like:

  • Development of new or improved observing capabilities for the VLA;
  • Characterizing instrument performance and working with engineering and maintenance groups to identify and solve problems;
  • Support of VLA users in all areas;
  • Design (and possibly testing, via the VLA) of the Next Generation VLA (ngVLA);

or other areas, as dictated by the needs of the observatory and the skills and interests of the successful applicant.

All NRAO staff scientists are also expected to carry out an independently-directed research program.  This may be multi-wavelength in nature but should have synergies with NRAO facilities; for this position, research which makes significant use of the VLA will be preferred.  Active and engaged research is important because staff scientists are expected to push the telescopes’ capabilities, building on their own research and the needs of the broader astronomical community.  Current DSOC staff scientists are working on a wide range of scientific topics, from planetary science to stars to external galaxies to cosmology, including time-variable phenomena.  The staff scientist recruited for this position will become a part of that range of scientific research, in these or other areas.  Opportunities for advising students and postdocs are available both through internal and external support.

The ideal candidate will contribute to the overall NRAO mission and must be able to demonstrate the ability to work within a collaborative environment that promotes motivation, leadership and team building, in both scientific and functional areas.  NRAO staff scientists are expected to be versatile and flexible in their science and functional work to adapt to new challenges and opportunities as NRAO and the astronomical landscape evolve.


Appointments will be in residence in Socorro, New Mexico; the DSOC is located in Socorro on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (  Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque.

Minimum Education

PhD in astronomy, astrophysics or related field

Minimum Experience

One year of postdoctoral experience or equivalent experience

Preferred Experience

  • Established record of independent research
  • Experience with observatory science operations
  • Familiarity with scientific computing/observatory software/radio astronomy technology
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a changing work environment
  • Strong interpersonal skills/team work/proficiency in communication (verbal and written)
  • Demonstrated interest in broadening participation

Application Instructions

For consideration, select the “Apply” button below.  Please prepare a single PDF document consisting of the following items:

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

The PDF file is to be uploaded with the “Add Resume” feature at the applicant portal; the file name format should follow this convention: LastName,FirstInitial_VLASci.pdf.  The deadline for receipt of complete applications is June 1, 2019.  Each applicant should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be submitted by individuals familiar with their technical and scientific abilities directly to  These letters MUST be received by June 8, 2019 (please have the referee use the file name format convention “LastName,FirstInitial_VLA_recommendation.pdf”).  Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of recommendation are sent by the referees.

Included Benefits: 

In addition to competitive pay, the NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave).  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; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Selection Committee
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Paul Demorest
VLA Assistant Scientist