Director for Science Support and Research

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Street Line 1: 
520 Edgemont Road
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking to recruit an Assistant Director for Science Support & Research (AD/SSR). Science Support & Research (SSR) is the Observatory-wide function supporting all scientific users of NRAO instruments, and overseeing the scientific research of the NRAO staff.

This is an opportunity for an experienced scientist, with a track record of management and leadership, to take on an influential role in the senior management team of one of the world’s leading observatories. The appointee will help shape the mode of delivery of data to a global community of astronomers (the Science-­Ready Data Products (SRDP) project), and contribute to the definition and planning of the Next Generation VLA – envisaged to be an interferometric array with more than 10 times the sensitivity and spatial resolution of the current VLA and ALMA, operating at frequencies spanning ∼ 1.2 − 116 GHz with extended baselines reaching across North America. Depending on the qualifications of the appointee, the role may include duties associated with a Chief Scientist designation for the Observatory as a whole.

The AD/SSR is responsible for managing time allocation and the proposal handling processes for the VLA and VLBA which are operated by NRAO, and for the GBT which is operated by the Green Bank Observatory (GBO).  The AD/SSR is tasked with ensuring a uniform and effective interface for NRAO’s and GBO’s user communities across all their telescopes and taking account of the ALMA review process which is the responsibility of the Joint ALMA Observatory. The AD/SSR manages staff responsible for common scientific services provided in support of our instruments, and coordinates outward­-facing activities across all sites to minimize duplication and achieve optimal efficiency in support of all users of NRAO facilities.

The AD/SSR reports to the NRAO Director. The AD/SSR is responsible for defining and improving NRAO's interface to our user community, and overseeing the research environment for our scientific staff. Additionally, the AD/SSR will serve on the Diversity Council within the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and will support and encourage scientific staff to actively participate in broadening participation activities.

The appointee will be a member of the NRAO Scientific Staff, based in either Charlottesville, Virginia, or Socorro, New Mexico. The nature and level of the appointment will be negotiated with the appointee.

Job Duties Summary

A key role for the AD/SSR is to work with the research community and several NRAO departments to continue the “Science-­Ready Data Products” (SRDP) project which will remove the burden of data flagging, calibration, and imaging from NRAO users and which seeks to significantly broaden the user base of the Observatory. The SRDP Project Director reports to the AD/SSR.

Duties include:

  • Visibly support, and demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to, the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion at NRAO.
  • Deliver and complete the implementation of advanced Science-­Ready Data Products (SRDP) for NRAO instruments; interface closely to other stakeholders (e.g. scientific users, NRAO staff, Data Management and Software) to achieve this goal.
  • ­Manage the NRAO Telescope Time Allocation (TTA) process, including developing appropriate revisions to policy, documentation, tools and procedures as needed.
  • ­Oversee the recruitment, hiring, review and promotion of the NRAO scientific staff, and regular revision of the Scientific Staff Policy Manual. Review and approve scientific staff external grant proposals.
  • Coordinate the Jansky Fellowship program and other NRAO postdoctoral appointments, ensuring that this vital program continues to attract and develop some of the most promising astronomers in the world with expertise in NRAO science and capabilities.
  • ­Coordinate all NRAO student programs, including undergraduate and graduate levels, and the Student Observing Support program.
  • ­Coordinate the activities of the NRAO Library and Historical archives, and oversee the NRAO statistics and metric functions and page charge support.
  • ­Organize the NRAO-­wide Jansky Lecture series.
  • ­Select, train and develop scientific and professional staff capable of meeting current organizational needs and future requirements of the Observatory; set goals for, evaluate and address scientific staff performance.
  • Develop and communicate an integrated view of SSR activities within NRAO.
  • ­Ensure that projects overseen by SSR are planned and completed within established controls and according to Observatory priorities, in collaboration with the NRAO Program Management Dept.
  • ­Assist in the preparation and review of Observatory planning and reporting documents, including annual program plan, budget, strategic and long-­range plans. Develop, monitor and report on NRAO’s observing-related metrics, and lead the collection, collation and delivery of the quarterly Observatory-wide Performance Evaluation and Management report.
  • ­Report and track to closure all SSR risk items.
  • Ensure proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Position Requirements

Minimum Education

PhD degree or an equivalent combination of experience and education.

Preferred Education:

PhD in astronomy, physics or a closely related field is preferred.

Minimum Experience

At least five years’ experience in astronomy and data analysis, observatory operations, liaising with the research community, and a record of successful management in a relevant environment including budget planning, and project management.

Preferred Experience:

Outstanding scientific, technical and/or managerial achievements in radio interferometry and arrays and single dishes. A demonstrated background in observatory operations or management and the ability to work closely with site managers and scientific staff members are also highly desirable.

Competency Summary

Must possess excellent analytical, communication and organizational skills. Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. Strong leadership ability is required.

To be considered for the duties associated with the Chief Scientist role, the applicant must be an outstanding and influential scientist, forming and shaping opinions across the astronomy research community in the US and internationally. A demonstrated record of a high degree of community engagement and involvement in processes that develop and define broad scientific priorities is essential in this context.

Physical Requirements:

Work is typically performed in a research or development environment. Must be able to travel both domestically and internationally by air carrier. The appointee will be based in either Charlottesville, VA, or Socorro, NM, and will be expected to spend a significant fraction of time (about a week every two months) at the other location.

Application Instructions

Special Application Instructions:

For full consideration, apply online at the NRAO careers webpage. Please prepare a single PDF document consisting of the following items:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. Cover letter stating why you are interested in this position – the letter should describe how your education and experience match the requirements and qualifications described above (maximum 2 pages).
  3. List containing the names of at least 3 referees.

Applicants should also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to

Applications will be reviewed beginning June 25, 2019, and will continue until the position is filled.


Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:

AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to

Application Deadline: 
Monday, September 30, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Dr. Tony Beasley
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