KIPAC Rubin Commissioning and Operations Postdoctoral Research Associates

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, September 9, 2023
Archive Date: 
Saturday, November 11, 2023
To event remaining 47 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
Street Line 1: 
452 Lomita Mall
Street Line 2: 
M/C 4085
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a next-generation astronomical facility currently under construction in Chile, with operations staff distributed across multiple sites, one of which is SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford University. Rubin Observatory will undertake the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) which will be one of the largest and most comprehensive astronomy surveys of its kind. Rubin will enable countless discoveries in almost every area of modern astronomical research—discoveries made possible by the team that built the Rubin Observatory system, and by the global science community that Rubin Observatory serves. 

Stanford and SLAC are partners in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, which hosts a broad program in astrophysics. Existing research programs at KIPAC include studies of dark energy, cosmic dynamics, structure formation, galaxy formation, the physics of inflation, studies of and searches for dark matter, interstellar medium physics, and studies of black holes, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, the Milky Way, stars (including the Sun), extrasolar planets, and other astrophysical sources. SLAC has been the lead lab for construction of the LSST Camera, and is continuing to provide scientific and technical support for LSSTCam during Rubin commissioning and survey operations. 

We invite you to apply for a 3-year postdoctoral research position at KIPAC, and in doing so take on a commissioning or operations role at Rubin Observatory. 

The term of this position will be a very exciting time for Rubin Observatory, with the LSST due to begin in 2025. This is a truly unique opportunity to join the team that will make Rubin reach its ground-breaking science goals, and capitalize on this experience in your postdoctoral research.

In your Rubin role, you will join a flexible and dynamic team of scientists, engineers and developers at SLAC and beyond that (among other things) is (1) commissioning the Rubin system, including the LSST Camera, and (2) investigating, maintaining, operating and evolving the scientific software that collects, processes and calibrates the LSST data, and then supports its use by astrophysicists across the world. At KIPAC, you will interact and collaborate with a large and vibrant community that is preparing to exploit its deep expertise in the Rubin data products to do LSST science, while helping build and operate the Rubin system.

Your responsibilities may include one or more of the following:

  • Commission the LSST Camera at the Rubin Observatory by operating the Camera in calibration or normal imaging modes, diagnosing and fixing issues in operation and evaluating performance through analysis of telemetry, calibration or on-sky data. 
  • Understand various LSST science use cases and then apply software engineering expertise to modify, extend, and update the Rubin image processing pipelines in response to emergent scientific needs, community requests, and bug reports.
  • Run simulated scenarios and develop science-oriented metrics to understand the performance of the Rubin Observatory system, identify problem areas that might cause Rubin to fall short of its scientific goals, and evaluate proposed changes to the image processing pipelines and algorithms. 
  • Support the broad international scientific community of users through various communication channels (e.g., online Q&A forums, workshops, tutorials), and collaborate closely with staff across the Rubin operations teams to diagnose and respond to issues identified by the scientific community.
  • Carry out, in 50% of your time, a program of original cosmological research in the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration, or developing a scientific program for Rubin Observatory following the 10 year LSST survey.

To be successful in this position you will bring:

  • A recent Ph.D. in astronomy or physics (or the expectation that you will receive the degree prior to starting your appointment), whose award date is no more than 5 years before the start of the appointment, October 1, 2024. 
  • Including your thesis work, at least 3 years of research experience involving at least one of the following:
    • Imaging or Astronomical Instrumentation or other relevant work with scientific apparatus;
    • Preparation for and/or execution of cosmological data analysis in a wide-field optical imaging survey;
    • Accurate measurement of weak lensing shear, or point-spread function modeling for weak lensing;
    • Preparation for the LSST survey, including familiarity with Rubin software.
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out independent research, collaborating closely with colleagues working both locally and remotely. 
  • Familiarity with scientific python and collaborative development (including versioning, packaging, online documentation, etc). 
  • Verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to convey complex technical concepts effectively.
  • Ability to work and communicate effectively with a diverse population.

Applying for these positions, you should know that:

  • KIPAC is committed to an inclusive work environment and encourages applications from candidates who will diversify the workforce in astrophysics and cosmology. More information about Stanford’s ongoing commitment to a diverse and inclusive environment can be found at Above all we are looking for someone enthusiastic with a desire to learn and experiment in a highly supportive and collaborative environment. 
  • A research mentor on the faculty or staff at KIPAC will support you throughout your term, helping you develop your research program, establish and maintain good strong connections to the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration, and capitalize on your Rubin experience in your research. 
  • Stanford offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and an attractive, inclusive and collaborative work environment in the foothills of Silicon Valley. All relocation expenses will be covered.

Application materials should be submitted at Candidates should provide a curriculum vitae including a publication list, a 3-page statement of research interests and plans, and arrange to have at least three letters of recommendation submitted to the same site. We encourage applicants to follow the structure of the AAS advice on the contents of CVs and research statements given here: Applications are welcome to provide an additional statement (up to one page) that discusses their experience with or commitment to engaging in mentoring, outreach, teaching, public policy, fostering inclusive environments, or activities that diversify the field.

The deadline for applications is Friday November 3, 2023 (by midnight Eastern Time). Late applications may be considered at the discretion of the search committee. For more information contact Phil Marshall ([email protected]) or Aaron Roodman ([email protected]), additional information about KIPAC can be found at

Application Deadline: 
Friday, November 3, 2023
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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