Scientific Programmer

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Archive Date: 
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates several observatory centers (including the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Solar Observatory (NSO), Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation.

The National Solar Observatory (NSO), Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is seeking a Scientific Programmer. This position will be located in Boulder, CO. The DKIST is currently under construction in Maui, Hawaii on the summit of Haleakala and scheduled for completion in 2019. The DKIST, will be the world's largest most advanced solar telescope and will help resolve the fundamental interactions between solar magnetic fields and the dynamic atmospheric plasma on scales below 0.1 arcsec over entire active regions. 

General Description of Position:

The Data Center (DC) of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is looking for a Scientific Programmer to collaborate with NSO staff and external colleagues, the candidate will leverage their expertise working with ground- and/or space-based solar physics data to build robust yet flexible and effective calibration pipelines, ensuring that the DKIST’s data are of the highest quality when provided to community users.

Essential Functions:

  • Contribute to the design and development of scalable, extensible, high-performance, and robust calibration techniques for solar physics data
  • Characterize solar data and the application of calibration techniques appropriate to the scientific and broader engagement goals for DKIST
  • Identify, prototype, and characterize performance and failure modes of calibration algorithms providing assessment of DKIST solar physics data quality
  • Work with NSO staff, instrument partners, and external community members to deliver robust calibrations for multiple instruments types (imaging, spectral, polarimetric) that will operate at the DKIST
  • Contribute to operationalization of DKIST calibration techniques and strategies

 Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Earned Doctorate in Astronomy, Physics, or related fields, or comparable experience in the field.
  • Knowledge of software engineering best practices, such as version control, automated testing, code reviews, collaborative environments, etc.
  • Extensive experience using numerical and astronomical scripting and analysis software, such as IDL, Python, Perl, and IRAF
  • Extensive knowledge of basic calibration techniques relevant to solar physics data from photometric, spectral, and polarimetric instruments
  • Knowledge of advanced data and image processing techniques (e.g. PCA, pattern recognition, MOMFBD)
  • Deep understanding of solar astronomical observing methods and procedures
  • Knowledge of DKIST (or related) instrument configurations and scientific capabilities
  • Experience developing and robustly implementing solar physics data processing algorithms and prototype codes
  • Ability to design efficient algorithms and optimize their programmatic implementation
  • Experience developing software in formal programming languages, e.g., Java, C/C++, Python, Fortran90/95
  • Experience using community solar processing software tools (e.g., SolarSoft, SunPy)
  • Ability to speak and write effectively in English, including preparation of comprehensive technical reports and code documentation
  • Ability to effectively communicate with instrument partners and community users
  • Occasional travel (<10%) expected

Desirable Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Postdoctoral and/or professional experience in Solar Physics
  • Experience with data visualization techniques for multi-dimensional data sets
  • Familiarity with current solar physics facility instruments, such as those at the Dunn Solar Telescope
  • Familiarity with polarimetric calibration methods
  • Experience developing effective, efficient enterprise data processing pipelines, using e.g. LSF, Moab, Pegasus, OpenPBS, Kepler
  • Master’s degree or higher in Computer Science, Physics, Astronomy, Engineering
  • Extensive knowledge of design patterns

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws.

NSO will accept and review applications until the position is filled. Please be sure to submit a completed application along with supporting documents by no later than April 6th 2019 to be considered in the first review.  Qualified internal candidates will be given preference.

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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