Scientific Programmer

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Street Line 1: 
La Serena
Street Line 2: 
La Serena or Hilo
Coquimbo or Hawaii
Job Announcement Text: 

NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), has an immediate opening for a Scientific Programmer at the International Gemini Observatory. The successful candidate will join our international team operating two of the world’s premier ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile.  We are looking for a talented individual to become part of the Science User Support Department at either Gemini North in Hilo, Hawaii or Gemini South in La Serena, Chile.  This is a fixed-term 3-year position with the possibility of extension.

NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) and is the US national center for ground-based night-time astronomy.  Principally sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NOIRLab operates and provides services across a range of Observatory Programs (including Gemini Observatory) with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i.  

The Scientific Programmer will develop Python software to support Gemini’s principal investigators in their production of world-class scientific results in a timely manner. In the era of multi-messenger astronomy, Gemini is developing DRAGONS (Data Reduction for Astronomy from Gemini Observatory North and South), a software suite to provide reliable, automatic reductions of science data.

The Scientific Programmer will work on the development, testing, and optimization of DRAGONS core infrastructure and scientific algorithms used to assess the quality of data as it is being obtained, reduce that data for rapid access by a transient follow-up system, and provide end-users with a flexible tool to make customizable non-standard reductions.  As both the Gemini Observatory Archive and the DRAGONS data reduction software are critical components of the daily observatory operations, the Scientific Programmer is expected the follow a rigorous software development life cycle from requirements and design documentation, coding standards, test driven development, to the application of quality and configuration control methodology.

Master’s degree in Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science or related field is required; a PhD degree is preferred.  Advanced knowledge of UNIX/Linux, Python, and Object-Oriented principles with at least two years of experience developing Python packages for public distribution is required.  Experience performing astronomical data reduction for scientific publication is required.  Fluency in English is essential.

Ability to write clear technical documentation and communicate effectively with a diverse community of scientific software users and developers is essential.  Familiarity with the Software Development Life Cycle is desirable.  Must be able to handle the conflicting demands of development and operations support.  Must be able to work in a geographically-distributed team environment.

Experience working as part of a team on a significant python software package is strongly desired.  Experience providing user support and troubleshooting at astronomical facilities is preferred.  The ability to communicate effectively with a diverse community of scientific software users and developers is also desired.  Independence, the ability to embrace challenge, and a sense of curiosity will aid in the successful completion of the essential functions. 

Gemini North headquarters are located in Hilo, Hawaii, a town with a very diverse population of about 43,000 people, a tropical climate, and a substantial international astronomical community supporting the observatories on Mauna Kea.  Gemini South headquarters are located in La Serena, Chile, a mid-sized city on the ocean, with a population of about 400,000 in the metropolitan area, also supporting a number of professional astronomical facilities. It is a popular tourist destination in the (Chilean) summer.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit a resume, cover letter and contact details for three references - from whom letters of reference may be obtained.  The cover letter should relate your education and experience to the requirements of the position and include a link (e.g. to a GitHub repository) to a sample of Python code that showcases your ability and illustrates your relevant skills. 

The position will remain open until filled but applications received before Nov 30, 2020 will receive full consideration.  Application materials should be submitted online through the AURA Jobs website: / Reference Code: SCIEN03646


** Incomplete applications will not be considered **


AURA offers competitive salaries based on market rates and a generous package of benefits.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six participant countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country's contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, and the Korea Astronomy and Space Institute (KASI). The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.


* NOIRLab has all staff working virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported.

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Monday, November 30, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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