TESS Postdoctoral Associate

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Archive Date: 
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department Name: 
Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

TESS Postdoctoral Positions in Observational Astrophysics and Computational Science


MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI) seeks up to three postdoctoral associates in the areas of observational astrophysics and computational science related to exoplanets and transient astrophysics. The successful applicants will work under the direction of Dr. George Ricker, the PI of the MIT-led Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and will be expected to participate in the discovery team assessing the scientific data from TESS, which was launched by NASA in April 2018. TESS is well on its way to discovering thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey of the solar neighborhood is identifying planets ranging from Earth- to Jupiter-sized, orbiting stars with stellar types and temperatures spanning a wide range. Many of these TESS planets are likely to be targets for JWST observations. In addition, the full frame images from TESS are providing precise photometry of more than 300 million stars and galaxies during its survey. TESS’s exquisite photometric stability and sensitivity is already enabling detection of a broad range of astrophysical transients, including cataclysmic variables, novae and supernovae, tidal disruption events, as well as addressing topics in multi-messenger astronomy.Recently, an operating extension for TESS was approved by NASA for TESS, extending at least into late 2022. The excellent in-orbit performance of TESS augers well for long-lived orbit operations.


The TESS Team at MKI includes a collegial group of students, postdocs, and other researchers studying exoplanets, stellar and galactic astronomy, and high energy astrophysics--including members of groups directed by Professor Sara Seager and Professor Saul Rappaport. Research collaborators also include active participants from the MIT Department of Physics and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. MKI is a partner in the twin 6.5-m Magellan telescopes, which boast an array of world-class optical and infrared instruments. The successful applicant will be encouraged to propose for MKI time on the Magellan telescopes. 


Applicants must have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, astronomy, or a related field of physics or computational science. Applicants with experience in observational or computational astronomy are encouraged to apply. An interest in large data sets--including development and application of AI and deep learning methods--is highly desirable. The successful candidates should have experience with standard astronomical data analysis packages, as well as computer languages and operating systems in common use in astronomy.


Applicants must submit a single PDF containing CV, publications list, and brief research statement (no more than 4 pages) via the MIT Careers Portal, and arrange to have three letters of reference sent electronically to: Ms. Amanda Holley (aholley@mit.edu). Questions may be directed to Dr. Ricker (grr@space.mit.edu), with whom interviews may be requested at the AAS 235th Meeting Career Center in Honolulu during January 3-8, 2020.


Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the three positions are filled. Initial decisions are expected starting January 15, 2020. The start dates are nominally Summer-Fall 2020. The appointments are for two or three years, renewable for an additional year depending on performance and funding.


MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, February 14, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Attention To: 
Dr. George Ricker
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TESS Postdoctoral Search