Software Developer/Software Engineer

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

If you are looking for professional growth, are enthusiastic about science and new technologies, have a curious mind, and love to work in a supportive team, we should talk! NSF's National Optical-InfraRed Astronomy Research Laboratory ( seeks to hire a talented and motivated software engineer at the senior or principal level. As we expand our team we will consider talented developers with less experience in the future. We are an academic research institution adjacent to the campus of the University of Arizona.

We have an immediate opening for a Senior Developer for the Data Lab project ( within the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) ( 

Data Lab is an online data science platform for astronomy through which scientists access petabyte-scale astronomical image and spectroscopy archives, query databases with hundreds of billions of rows, and run analysis workflows close to the data through APIs, web interfaces, and Jupyter notebooks. Astronomers use Data Lab e.g. to search for new asteroids in the Solar System, to study the structure of our Milky Way galaxy, or to characterize Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Your experience in software system design will help to enable new astronomical discoveries.

Data Lab is a key CSDC project in which developers, scientists, and system engineers come together in an intellectually stimulating environment to build the software and services needed to enable science from the next generation of big-data astronomical survey telescopes. The Data Lab team ( is fully integrated from development to operations. Future development is also expected to include integration between Data Lab and other programs in NSF's OIR Lab such as Gemini Observatory and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Operations.

We are looking for a software engineer who:

  • is experienced in system design, and has a systems engineer mindset
  • is expert in Python and/or Java development in a Linux environment
  • has experience with containerization technologies, e.g. Docker + Kubernetes
  • demonstrates both leadership skills and the ability to work collaboratively within a diverse team
  • is very comfortable with industry-standard practices, e.g. version control, test-driven development, code reviews, CI/CD
  • is familiar with and can contribute to DevOps
  • Bonus: familiarity with Virtual Observatory (VO) protocols, experience in academic research environments
  • Bonus: familiarity with workflow managers, e.g. Makeflow, Pegasus, etc.

As a successful hire you will support the current Data Lab system while piloting the development, refactoring, and deployment of Data Lab services as containers, orchestrated by Kubernetes. Subsequent projects may include e.g. the development or integration of collaborative group workspaces, a compute job batch system, a data publication service, and services for working with large spectroscopic survey datasets such as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). A fraction of your time will be available for self-directed research into new and exciting technologies and their relevance to data-intensive astronomy.

Essential Functions

  • Design, develop, adopt, adapt, test, and deploy software system code for online scientific analysis platforms and services
  • Work with the product owner (Project Scientist) to define product requirements
  • Work collaboratively within a small, diverse team of developers and scientists
  • Take shared responsibility for operational reliability of deployed services
  • Work together with all stakeholders to optimize user experience
  • Work with other technical staff to implement practices and workflows that support software system reliability and sustainability (e.g., configuration management, automated test coverage, pre-production environments, monitoring and analytics, standardization of practices, release engineering)
  • Research and assess software and service technologies and trends for their potential to deliver increased value to science end-users


  • Five years of relevant work experience
  • Expert software development skills in one or more general purpose programming languages including but not limited to: Python, Java, C/C++
  • Ability to design and develop large-scale software systems
  • Expertise with containerization technologies (e.g. Docker, Kubernetes)
  • Experience in setting up and deploying CI/CD tools (e.g. Jenkins, CircleCI, Maven)
  • Experience in relational databases (e.g. PostgreSQL)
  • Experience using version control systems (git) and online code management systems
  • Competence in Unix/Linux command line and system tools and shell scripting
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Master's or Bachelor's degree in computer science, astronomy, engineering or related fields
  • Experience with DevOps and Agile concepts
  • Knowledge of Virtual Observatory protocols
  • Experience with workflow managers (e.g. Makeflow, Pegasus)
  • Experience working in an academic environment

NSF's OIR Lab offers an excellent benefits package, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a stimulating work environment in science and technology, with a great work/life balance.

If this sounds exciting to you, please submit a cover letter outlining how your interests and experience match the position, a resume/CV, and the names and contact information for 3 references with your application. Please also provide links to code examples that you have written, e.g. in Github repositories or elsewhere, and indicate if you are contributing to open source software.

Please send any questions to [email protected]. Review of applications will begin on January 31, 2020. The position will remain open until filled. Please name all submitted files in the following format: LastnameDocname.pdf

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and four 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 Large Synoptic Survey Telescope 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.

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at 

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. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

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

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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