Senior Research Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
George Mason University
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science at George Mason University is accepting applicants for a Senior Research Scientist to work in conjunction with the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages applicants who will enrich Mason’s academic and culturally inclusive environment.


This position will be for an initial period of 2-years with an optional 3rd year and will be based at the USNO in Washington, D.C. The successful applicant will work closely with Dr. Nathan Secrest and other members of the Astrometry Department on ground-based photometric data of nearby active galactic nuclei (AGNs). This position will be for 50% self-directed research and 50% research and operational work in support of USNO.


The primary task of the incumbent is to serve as a developer for a new method of finding an optimal astrometric solution of narrow-field data taken at visual wavelengths. Working closely with the USNO lead (a government employee), the incumbent will develop code that will transition from simulated target recognition tested under varying World Coordinate System (WCS) and affine transformations to real-world applications eventually leading to accurate estimation of target image WCS solutions.


The incumbent will be responsible for the following:

  • Production of astronomical code to perform high-precision differential astrometry and photometry on ground-based images of nearby AGNs, and produce high-fidelity simulations to verify the code;
  • Production of code to recognize targets and determine the transformations required to produce astrometric solutions;
  • Generalization of parts of the above code for utility by the wider astronomical community, as a USNO product;
  • Self-directed research, including proposing and obtaining time on astronomical facilities, or computing facilities suitable for research goals and publication of papers;
  • Maintaining an active role in the scientific culture of USNO by contributing to journal clubs, colloquia, and professional seminars where  appropriate.


Required Qualifications:

  • Successful completion of a PhD in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Physics, or related field prior to the first day of the appointment;
  • High level of computer programming experience, preferably in Python;
  • Formal education and background in physics and/or mathematics.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Familiarity/experience with image analysis and modeling techniques and/or computer vision;
  • Familiarity with astrometric and photometric data analysis and techniques;
  • Aptitude with mining astronomical data repositories.


About Us:
The College of Science (COS) is the largest research unit within the university, constituting approximately 30 percent of the total research portfolio. With a mission to produce science that enhances society, create clear career pathways for Mason students, and enhance economic development in the region and the nation, COS undertakes pioneering research endeavors that offer insight and solutions to the complex issues that challenge today’s world. For more information about the college, visit us on the web at


Special Instructions to Applicants:
For full consideration, applicants must apply for position number F568AZ at; complete and submit the online application; and upload a cover letter, resume, and a list of three professional references with contact information.


George Mason University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, committed to promoting inclusion and equity in its community. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability or veteran status, or any characteristic protected by law.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Human Resources
United States of America
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