Astronomer - Tenured/Tenure Track

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Street Line 1: 
520 Edgemont Rd
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking to appoint one or more tenured or tenure-track scientific staff members. 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 an outstanding scientific staff, and supports a program of staff independent, self-directed research that enables leadership and high quality in all these areas. Our scientific staff is expected to push the telescopes’ capabilities, building on their own research and the needs of the broader astronomical community.

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

The tenure track at NRAO parallels the tenure system in research universities, with the expectation that scientists will conduct a strong program of research and support the mission of the Observatory. Successful candidate(s) will support Observatory functions in areas of mutual interest.

NRAO staff scientists hold 12-month salaried appointments, and are provided travel and computing support. While NRAO is not a degree-granting institution, its programs for undergraduate and graduate student research experiences afford opportunities for staff to mentor and interact with students. NRAO also conducts a varied program of education and public outreach, and invites interested staff to participate in these activities.

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 the case of more senior-level applicants, a modified initial term or 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.

Position Details

Depending on mutual interests, appointments may be made to the staff of the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC), the New Mexico Operations department, or elsewhere in the Observatory. 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. 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.

In addition to conducting a strong program of independent research, a successful candidate will enhance the NRAO science environment and output, extend the reach of NRAO telescopes and initiatives within the broader astronomical community, and contribute to operations and deliverables. These may include support for Observatory initiatives, programs, users, or other mutually-agreed functions. Specifics are to be determined based on the candidate’s interests and skillsets, and the needs of the Observatory.

Location and Compensation

Appointments may be in residence at our NRAO headquarters located in Charlottesville, Virginia or at our sites in Socorro or Albuquerque, New Mexico. A remote work station may be possible, with periodic presence at one or more of the sites. In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective on the first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay, and is effective the first full pay period after six months of employment. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

Job Duties Summary

Tenured and 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 in alignment with overall requirements of the host department within NRAO, and that are consistent with their personal expertise, potential and interests. 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.

Minimum Education

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

Minimum Experience

  • At least one year of postdoctoral research experience by the time the appointment begins
  • Established record of independent research

Preferred Experience

  • Three or more years of postdoctoral research experience
  • Demonstrated record of high-impact research productivity
  • Demonstrated record of scientific leadership and strategic vision
  • Strong interpersonal skills/proficiency in communication (verbal and written)
  • Evidence of successful science advocacy and public outreach
  • Evidence of understanding of and commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Demonstrated success working collaboratively in a team environment
  • Experience with radio/millimeter/submillimeter astronomy and interferometry and/or associated instrumentation
  • Familiarity with scientific computing

Application Instructions

Apply online at the Associated Universities, Inc. Careers page:  Please prepare a single PDF document consisting of the following items:

  1. Cover letter describing 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 and/or broader impact experience relevant to the position (maximum 2 pages).
  5. Description of research accomplishments and future research plans (maximum 4 pages).

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

Included Benefits: 

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 supplemntal, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
NRAO Recruitment
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Patricia Henning
Job Inquiry Astronomer 4593