Optical Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
To event remaining 8 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Government Agency
Space Telescope Science Institute
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The role:

Applicants are invited to apply for an Optical Scientist position at the Space Telescope Science Institute to work on astronomical instrumentation and technologies for direct imaging of exoplanets from space.  We are considering either junior level candidates with 1-3 years of experience or a more senior level with 3-5 years of experience (including postdoc-level applications) – experience being broadly defined with astronomical instrumentation, optics, or exoplanet science. Please indicate which level you would like to be considered for when submitting your application.

The successful applicant(s) will work with Drs. Remi Soummer, Marshall Perrin, Laurent Pueyo, Chris Stark, and colleagues. Projects will include laboratory technology development for very high contrast imaging on segmented apertures, such as the LUVOIR concept, and numerical optimization of such instrument concepts via systems engineering trades and studies of instrument response to observatory wavefront error models and active wavefront control.

One major area of effort is laboratory instrumentation development of very high-contrast coronagraphy for future large segmented space telescopes, working on the HICAT testbed in the Makidon Optics Laboratory at STScI. Coronagraph designs by our group are the baseline for the LUVOIR mission concept, and we are engaged in a series of laboratory tests towards an integrated full-systems demonstration of coronagraphy and wavefront control on a dynamic segmented aperture. Efforts in this area will include hands-on testbed operations and data analyses, continued development of control methods including low- and high-order wavefront sensing, and performance optimizations. 

Another parallel focus will be numerical studies of coronagraph solutions for future direct imaging projects. This effort will build upon existing instrument optimization tools and coronagraph design algorithms to further the performances of solutions proposed for future space-based missions. This will also include collaboration in development of thermal and opto-mechnical requirements of future telescopes using these instrument concepts, and conducting end-to-end simulations to support this error budgeting effort. There are also opportunities to apply these methods to upgrade existing ground-based instruments, in particular as part of the ongoing GPI 2.0 coronagraph upgrade project. In addition to working with our team of scientists and engineers, this work will involve collaborations with colleagues at NASA Goddard, JPL, and Ball Aerospace.

STScI offers a dynamic mentoring program, a broad benefits package, and a prime location on the Johns Hopkins University campus. The upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope makes this an exciting time to come to Baltimore.

We are looking for candidates with:

  • BA in Physics, Optics, Astronomy, or similar fields with at least 1-3 years of relevant experience with astronomical instrumentation, optics exoplanet science OR
  • Candidates that hold a Masters or PhD in aforementioned fields with at least 3-5 years of relevant experience with astronomical instrumentation, optics exoplanet science.  We will also consider postdoc-level appointments.
  • Experience with programming languages (Python preferred)

How to apply:

To apply: Submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and/ or resume.  Candidates applying at the more senior level (or posdoc) should also submit a 2-3 page research statement. This statement is not needed for junior-level applicants.  All applicants are requested to provide names and contact information of three people who may be contacted for letters of reference. Applications received by August 15 2020 are assured full consideration, but the position will be open until filled.  Questions about the position should be directed to careers@stsci.edu

Link to apply: https://recruiting2.ultipro.com/SPA1004AURA/JobBoard/93330e50-7b3a-4ba8-...

About STScI

STScI occupies multiple sites surrounding the campus of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, MD. It maintains close connections with the JHU Physics and Astronomy Department and is a partner in the Pan-STARRS and Sloan Digital Sky Survey V consortia. The research environment engages, stimulates, and supports an international research staff with over 100 members. Research projects (www.stsci.edu/stsci-research) span a wide range of topics and include collaborations with postdoctoral researchers, research instrument analysts and JHU graduate students, as well as researchers from other institutions. 

The diversity of the STScI staff enhances the dynamic and collegial atmosphere of our community, and reflects our commitment to inclusivity in the broadest sense. Accordingly, women, minorities, veterans, and disabled individuals are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, STScI does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. Veterans, disabled or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at careers@stsci.edu . Salaries and benefits are commensurate with those of AURA member universities.

*STScI has all staff working virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires will on-board virtually once they are resident in the Baltimore-Washington area. We will then ship systems to enable working virtually until it is safe to report to our Baltimore offices. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported.   

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 is not permitted.**

We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.


Included Benefits: 
  • Medical, dental, prescription, and vision
  • Employer-sponsored Retirement Plan: 10% direct company contribution
  • Vacation: Up to 5 weeks of paid vacation a year
  • Sick Leave: Up to 12 sick days a year
  • Paid Holidays: 7 regular holidays and 3 personal holidays
  • Employee Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan
  • Flexible Work Schedules / Telecommuting Options Available
  • Free Parking
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Company-paid Life, Short-term Disability, and Long-term Disability
Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Lauren Nation