Assistant Science Operations Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
To event remaining 18 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
NOIRLab/Gemini Observatory
Hilo/La Serena
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) has an immediate opening for an Assistant Science Operations Specialist to work with the international Gemini Observatory, within the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division. The successful candidate will join our international team operating two of the world’s premier ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. We are looking for a talented individual to become part of NOIRLab’sTelescope Operations Division at Gemini North in Hawai`i.

NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i.  The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community.

We seek an individual who can thrive in a culturally diverse environment. The Assistant Science Operations Specialist is a member of the Science Operations Team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory’s operation.  The successful applicant will have demonstrated organizational and communication skills and possess initiative and the ability to understand the principles and functions of astronomical telescopes, instruments and observational data in acquiring proficiency.  The successful applicant will also possess excellent teamwork skills in order to work collaboratively with Gemini staff in our international community.

The Gemini North telescope is largely operated from the base facility in Hilo, but occasionally duties may take place at the summit of Mauna Kea, at an altitude of about 4200m. Hilo is the largest city of Hawaii, Located on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, it offers breathtaking natural beauty with a population of about 45,000, has a warm climate, and a substantial international astronomical community.

The SOS essential job duties include the following:

  • Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
  • Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of the telescope, instruments and computer systems.
  • Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
  • Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals.
  • Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments while working at night.                                         
  • This position does not include time nor funding for personal research.

Job Requirements:

Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.

  • Ability to work night shifts.
  • Responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly required. Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
  • Reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
  • Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
  • Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate clearly and firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
  • Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
  • A good working knowledge of PyRAF/IRAF, Python, and the Unix/Linux operating system is preferred.
  • Requires prior experience in operation of large telescopes.
  • Requires a valid driver’s license, clean driving record and the ability to drive 4WD vehicles.

Education Required:

Qualified candidates will have a Master’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or a closely related field and at least three years of hands-on experience of operating or observing with large ground-based optical/ IR telescopes, or with reducing and analyzing the data from such facilities. Exceptional/ extensive observing experience may substitute for a science or engineering degree. 

Other Requirements:

All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.

Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/Resume along with a Cover Letter in English and submit all documents as PDF files, named with the following format: Lastname_Docname.pdf (where Docname is CoverLetter, CV or Resume).  Please also append a list of 3 professional references, with contact information, to your Cover Letter.  References will be contacted at a later stage in the recruitment.

This position will remain open until filled.  For full consideration, applications should be received by December 15, 2021.

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 a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule

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 Hilo, Hawai’i within a limited time from their start date.

Additionally, all employment is contingent on establishing eligibility to work in the United States, including obtaining an appropriate visa, if necessary.  Work outside of the United States and Chile is not permitted.

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.

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.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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