Research Officer, Adaptive Optics Developer

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Government Agency
National Research Council Canada
Department Name: 
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
Street Line 1: 
5071 West Saanich Road
British Columbia
V9E 2E7
Job Announcement Text: 

The National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre (NRC-HAA), is seeking a scientist or engineer with strong interests in the development of next generation Adaptive Optics (AO) systems to support the development of optical instrumentation at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre (HAA). HAA has a rare combination of staff involved in astronomy research, instrumentation design and development, engineering, data science and observatory support. The chosen candidate will be someone who shares our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Respect and Creativity. 

HAA is a leading developer of instrumentation for Canada’s current and future ground- and space-based telescopes from optical through to radio wavelengths (e.g., CFHT, Gemini, TMT, ALMA, SKA). Its multi-disciplinary team includes project managers, optical, electrical, mechanical and systems engineers and technicians, signal processing experts and astronomers.  Current major activities include participation in the development of optical/NIR spectrographs for Gemini including GHOST and GIRMOS, adaptive optics systems for multiple instruments on Gemini, the TMT and ELT, as well as multiple projects at radio wavelengths including correlator upgrades and central signal processing architectures for the SKA and ALMA. Alongside these facility projects, HAA maintains an active portfolio of small scale R&D activities, including the development of test benches and on-sky demonstrators on local telescopes, that provide a means for showcasing new technologies and methodologies aimed at advancing astronomical research. 

The AO Developer will be someone who provides scientific and/or technical support and leadership to AO projects. They will be a member of the AO Team and will report to the AO Team Leader. The AO Team, which is part of the HAA Astronomy Technology Directorate (ATD), provides direct support to various on-going instrumentation projects and is also engaged in an ambitious R&D program that aims at developing cutting-edge technologies and methods for the next generation of AO systems that will support the long-range plans of the Canadian astronomical community.

Major facility AO instrument projects currently supported by the AO Team include TMT Narrow Field near-InfraRed AO System (NFIRAOS), The Gemini InfraRed Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS), the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) 2.0, and the GPI Calibration Unit (CAL) 2.0. The AO Team also supports the ATD Software Team in their effort to design and develop the Herzberg Extensible Adaptive optics Real-time Toolkit (HEART), a real-time control (RTC) software toolbox that can be easily adapted to control any AO instruments. HEART is slated to be deployed on the AO instruments mentioned above. It is also expected to equip the European Large Telescope (ELT) HIgh REsolution Spectrograph (HIRES) and the ELT Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics RelaY (MAORY).

Our AO R&D program aims at achieving technological breakthrough that will enable Canadian astronomers’ vision for new AO-assisted observational programs and that will significantly increase the scientific productivity of ground-based observatories. Our current AO R&D program focuses on key AO elements, including wavefront sensors (WFSs), deformable mirrors (DMs) and control. Current activities include technological developments such as advanced high-speed, low-noise NIR detectors and low-voltage deformable mirrors; developing novel WFSs such as non-linear wavefront sensors and novel algorithms, such as machine-learning based AO control. The technological readiness level of these developments are systematically increased by demonstrating them in the lab and on sky whenever possible. Our R&D program is supported by state-of-the-art modeling tools, two laboratories, one dedicated to general AO (AO Lab) and one dedicated to high-contrast imaging (New Earth Lab), and a local 1.2 m telescope with a Coudé room able to host on-sky experiments. The AO Team maintains extensive collaborations with partners from the international AO communities.

The AO Developer plays a leadership role in these cutting-edge science & technology projects. They work with enthusiastic, highly-invested colleagues from within the NRC and around the globe, all while representing Canada in high-profile international projects to build the biggest and most advanced scientific instruments in the world.

The AO Developer provides AO expertise at many levels, from inventing new concepts and leading their validations through R&D projects to commissioning multi-million dollar AO instruments at leading international observatories. Regular activities include improving AO modeling and simulation tools, providing technical guidance and critical analysis for designing new AO systems, providing leadership to AO projects, as well as supporting the fabrication, integration, testing and commissioning of AO instruments. The AO Developer usually works as part of highly multi-disciplinary teams that often comprises many skill levels, from under-graduate university students to senior engineers and scientists. They are encouraged to present their work in international workshops and conferences; publish their work in leading scientific journals; and develop collaborations within NRC, with Canadian universities and industries and with international partners

The initial appointment is of three (3) years duration. This is considered a term staff scientist position with all the associated benefits, including paid maternity and parental leave, vacation, accruable pension contributions and others. In addition to a highly competitive salary, the successful applicant will receive support for publications, observing and conference travel.

NRC is an equal opportunity employer.

Applications should be made by 25 March 2022 via the process described at the URL provided.

Vous pouvez obtenir ces renseignements en français au lien suivant: Développeur ou développeuse, Optique adaptative (

Desired starting date: As soon as possible

Included Benefits: 

NRC employees enjoy a wide-range of benefits including comprehensive health and dental plans, pension and insurance plans, vacation and other leave entitlements.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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