Astronomer (Tenure Track)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Faculty Positions (tenure and tenure-track)
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Department Name: 
Science Support and Research
Street Line 1: 
520 Edgemont Road
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking to appoint three new tenure-track scientists (the “Astronomer track”), one in each of the following focus areas:

  • Astronomical instrumentation and technologies (Research Engineer)
  • ALMA science
  • ngVLA key science

Details specific to each opening are detailed below.

NRAO’s 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.

To fulfill its mission the NRAO has a scientific staff and supports a program of staff scientific research that enables leadership and high quality in all these areas. Staff scientists are expected to push the telescopes’ capabilities, building on their own research and the needs of the broader astronomical community.

The tenure track at NRAO parallels the tenure track system in research universities, with the expectation that NRAO scientists support the science mission of the Observatory mirroring the teaching and administrative duties of university faculty.

These appointments will be made on the basis of the candidates’ demonstrated abilities to further the strategic mission of NRAO, to develop the scientific and technical environment of the Observatory, and to deliver world class science and scientific impact in the broad astronomy research community. The successful candidates shall have demonstrated excellence in research and research leadership, and demonstrated the ability to provide vision and leadership for development of new science and engineering concepts and directions relevant to NRAO’s mission and the science related to the Observatory’s current and planned future facilities – the VLA, VLBA, ALMA and the ngVLA.

The initial appointments are expected to be for a period of three years, with the possibility of a further three-year term, and of progression to tenure no more than six years after the initial appointment. In exceptional cases, a longer initial term and even tenure at the time of the initial appointment may be offered. The award of tenure is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees of Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), the management organization for the NRAO.

Location and Compensation

These appointments will be in either Charlottesville, Virginia, or Socorro, New Mexico. 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. Our 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.

Job Duties Summary

Tenure track appointments entail 50% independent scientific research and 50% functional responsibilities that directly support the delivery and development of the Observatory’s facilities and capabilities. The research may be multi-wavelength in nature but is generally expected to be synergistic with the science relevant to NRAO’s current and planned facilities and with the mission of the NRAO. Appointees will be expected to undertake functional duties that are consistent with their personal expertise, potential and interests, and that are in alignment with overall requirements of the host department within NRAO. Staff scientists on the astronomer track are expected to contribute to the scientific vision of the NRAO, leadership within NRAO and in the broader astronomy community, to participate in training the future generation of scientists and in activities to broaden science appreciation in the public.

Position Requirements

The following requirements apply to all three positions, and must be met together with the specific requirements for each position as detailed separately below.

Minimum Education

Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics, electrical engineering, applied physics or a related field.

Minimum Experience

  • At least three years postdoctoral experience
  • Established record of independent research

Preferred Experience

  • Five or more years of postdoctoral research experience
  • Demonstrated record of high-impact research productivity
  • Demonstrated record of scientific leadership
  • Experience working in an observatory setting
  • Strong interpersonal skills/proficiency in communication (verbal and written)
  • Experience with radio/millimeter/submillimeter astronomy and interferometry and / or associated instrumentation
  • Familiarity with common software packages used in astronomical or associated engineering research
  • Familiarity with scientific computing


Position 1: Astronomical Instrumentation and Technologies

This appointment will be to the staff of NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The CDL has a long history of developing new technology to enable forefront research in radio astronomy by the scientific community. The Laboratory currently has a research and technical staff of approximately 50 undertaking research and development (R&D) projects on cryogenic low-noise wideband amplifiers, superconducting heterodyne receivers for millimeter to submillimeter wavelengths, designing and building electromagnetic components such as feeds and polarizers for frequencies from below 1 GHz up to 1.5 THz, phased array feeds, early digitization and integration of the signal processing chain, wideband digital signal processors, and photonic signal generation & data transmission.

The appointee will carry out R&D in one or more of these areas of CDL focus, developing technology and instruments essential for the future needs of world-class radio astronomy research, working where appropriate in partnership with the astronomy community and industry.

Minimum Education

Ph.D. in electrical engineering, applied physics or a related field.

Preferred Experience

  • Demonstrated ability to lead a team of diverse, interdisciplinary engineers and technicians
  • Demonstrated ability to proactively develop device specifications from system requirements
  • Extensive knowledge of microwave engineering, antenna theory, cryogenics, amplifier design, photonics, signal prediction and estimation, digital signal processing, and digital circuit design
  • Expertise in design and engineering of mixed-signal integrated circuits
  • At least five years’ experience in designing MMICs
  • At least five years’ experience in designing and building mixed-signal ASICs, including evaluating vendors and working with vendors in IP selection, layout, test and evaluation
  • A proven track record of innovation and novel designs
  • An entrepreneurial interest and experience in patenting and commercializing invention


Position 2: ALMA Science

This appointment will be to the staff of the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) in Charlottesville, Virginia. The NAASC is the science operations division of North American ALMA. It provides support for the North American astronomy community to facilitate their use of ALMA in order to deliver world-class science, and provides scientific support for the operations of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) in Chile, in collaboration with the other international ALMA partners.

The appointee will contribute to scientific support activities of the NAASC such as reducing and imaging ALMA data, developing pipeline heuristics, supporting ALMA users from project preparation to data analysis, training of current and future ALMA users, support for ALMA software and hardware development projects, and supporting telescope operations in Santiago, Chile and at the Operations Support Facility near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

The appointee will be expected to play a significant role in contributing to the science relevant to ALMA, including identifying and developing future scientific priorities for ngVLA and the NRAO, and building support for those priorities within the North American and international astronomy community.

Minimum Education

Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics or a related field.

Preferred Experience

  • Expertise with observations and data reduction at millimeter/ submillimeter wavelengths
  • Familiarity with CASA software
  • Familiarity with ALMA capabilities
  • A record of significant scientific contributions in fields of direct relevance to ALMA


Position 3: ngVLA Key Science

This appointment will be to the staff of NRAO’s New Mexico Operations department in Socorro, New Mexico.

NRAO activities in New Mexico comprise the operation of the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and a variety of technical support functions for ALMA-NA, as well as being the center of the next generation VLA (ngVLA) design and development project.

The appointee will contribute to scientific support activities of New Mexico Operations such as:

  • Enhancing the observing capabilities of the VLA and VLBA;
  • Support of VLA and VLBA users in all areas;
  • Training and education of current and future users;
  • Delivery of the VLA Sky Survey (VLASS);
  • Production of Science Ready Data Products;
  • Pipeline heuristics and development;
  • Design (and possibly testing, via the VLA) of the Next Generation VLA (ngVLA);
  • other areas, as dictated by the needs of the observatory and the skills and interests of the successful applicant.

The appointee will be expected to contribute to the science relevant to the ngVLA, including identifying and developing future scientific priorities for ngVLA and the NRAO, and building support for those priorities within the North American and international astronomy community.

Minimum Education

Ph.D. in Astronomy, astrophysics or a related field

Preferred Experience

  • Expertise with observations and data reduction at millimeter/ submillimeter wavelengths, especially from interferometers, or with the development of world-class instrumentation of relevance to NRAO’s current and planned interferometric facilities (the VLA, VLBA and ngVLA)
  • Familiarity with the planned ngVLA capabilities and key science goals
  • A record of significant scientific contributions in fields of direct relevance to ngVLA and/or VLASS


Application Instructions (All Positions):

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

  1. Cover letter describing which position you are interested in and why – the letter should describe how your education and experience match the requirements and qualifications described above (maximum 2 pages).
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. List of refereed publications
  4. Summary of past technical and /or observational experience relevant to the position (maximum 2 pages)
  5. Description of research accomplishments and future research plans (maximum 4 pages)

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

Application Deadline

The deadline for receipt of applications for the Astronomical instrumentation and technologies position is August 31, 2019.

The deadline for receipt of applications for the ALMA science and ngVLA key science positions is September 30, 2019.

Please direct inquiries to


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: 
Saturday, November 30, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Attention To: 
Dr. Tony Beasley
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Job Inquiry- Astronomer Tenure Track