Assistant Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Monday, July 30, 2018
Archive Date: 
Monday, September 17, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Department Name: 
Street Line 1: 
1003 Lopezville Rd
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 two scientific staff positions to be located in Socorro, NM, the home of the Domenici Science  Operations  Center,  which  houses  the  scientific,  engineering,  technical,  computer  and  support  staff for both the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The Science  Operations  Center  also  houses  the  control  center  and  correlator  for  VLBA  observations  and  hosts personnel working on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project. The VLBA is entering a period of financial stability offered by a new partnership arrangement.  Over the next several years, new development and user support projects will be launched which will improve the capabilities of the VLBA.

The staff scientists recruited for these positions are expected to facilitate cutting-edge science done by community members and work to enhance the observing capabilities for the VLBA. The ideal candidates will contribute to the overall NRAO mission and must be able to demonstrate success working within a collaborative environment that promotes motivation, leadership and team building.

NRAO staff scientists are expected to carry out an independently directed research program using 25% of their time.  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.  Finally,  staff  scientists  are  also 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. Candidates should discuss their skills and adaptability in their cover letter.  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.

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

  • Enhancing the observing capabilities of the VLBA;
  • Support of VLBA users in all areas;
  • Support global VLBI efforts, including the High Sensitivity Array, the Global VLBI Millimeter Array;
  • VLBA scientific interfacing to software programs such as CASA, the NRAO Data Archive, and Science Ready Data Products;
  • Support development of long baseline aspects of Next Generation VLA (ngVLA).

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

Job Duties Summary

The positions entail 25% independent research and 75% functional responsibilities. The research may be multi-wavelength  in  nature  but  should be synergistic with NRAO facilities and the general broad  mission  of  the  NRAO. However, applicants with a scientific interest in VLBI will have an advantage. For functional work, the staff scientist will be a member of the VLA/VLBA Scientific User Support Division, within the New Mexico Operations Department, working under the direction of the Long Baseline Observatory (LBO) Director. The focus of the functional responsibilities will comprise a combination of supporting the  VLBA  user  community  in  delivering  science  from  the  telescope,  supporting the proper functioning of the VLBA as a system, including antennas, software, and correlator, and  in  developing  new  observing  capabilities and observing modes for the VLBA. The initial appointment will be made at the level of Assistant Scientist. In exceptional cases, a higher rank will be considered.  Appointments will be in residence in Socorro, New Mexico; 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

Three years of postdoctoral experience in radio interferometry or equivalent experience.

Preferred Experience

Experience with observatory science operations; knowledge of VLBI techniques

Competency Summary

  • Evidence of ability to function in an observatory setting
  • Established record of independent research
  • Familiarity with scientific computing/research software
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a changing work environment
  • Strong interpersonal skills/team work/proficiency in communication (verbal and written)
  • Demonstrated interest in broadening participation

Other Considerations

Due to source of funding, one of the two positions to be filled with this search requires U.S. citizenship.

Application Instructions:

To apply, 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 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 career site; the file name format should follow this convention: LastName,FirstInitial_VLBA.pdf.  The deadline for receipt of complete applications is September 17, 2018.  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 September 24, 2018 (please have the individuals use the file name format convention: "LastName,FirstInitial_VLBA_recommendation.pdf”).  Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of recommendation have been sent by the individuals.  Please direct inquiries to Dr. Walter Brisken (

The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)

Included Benefits: 

In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s 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: 
Monday, September 17, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, October 22, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Walter Brisken
LBO Director
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Walter Brisken
Assistant Scientist