Research Assistant, Science, Graduate (Visiting)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Pre-doctoral/Graduate Positions
Institution Classification/Type: 
SOFIA / Universities Space Research Association
Moffett Field
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The purpose of this position is to support the research of the principal investigator of the grant funding this position. The topic of the research is the early evolution of very massive star-forming cores, especially analyzing the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) off more than 100 massive cores and characterizing the cores based on the SED fitting results.

Position Summary:

This project revolves around Spectral Energy Distributions (SEDs) of more than 100 massive star-forming cores in an estimated early evolutionary state. The data has been compiled mostly from Spitzer and Herschel archival data. The sources are selected from (sub-) millimeter surveys of star forming regions. The far infrared data has been compiled from the archives. The research assistant will continue the work of previous research assistants in modeling the SEDs using analytic and radiative transfer models. The task is to explore the limits of each modeling approach and extract the parameters that can be reliably derived from the SED modeling. The goal is to classify the sources based on their SEDs and possibly tie the classification to the different evolutionary stages of massive star formation.

The position is funded by a grant and is limited to about five months

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Understand the existing database of SEDs and previous modelling efforts
  • Reduce SOFIA/FORCAST data for two objects and add them to the SED data base
  • Continue to the modeling the SEDs using the Zhang&Tan models and the semi-analytic SED model by Chakrabarti al.
  • Explore limits of the SED modeling incl. parameter uncertainties, degeneracies, and relevance
  • Compile ages for the selected star forming regions and compare the ages to the SED modeling results
  • Software development as required for the above steps
  • Document all steps along the work in informal reports
  • Assist in drafting a research paper including figure generations and literature review based on the work described above

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Ensure the protection of USRA intellectual property with respect to commercial and ITAR/EAR concerns through disclosures, patent applications, and adherence to scientific and technical information dissemination guidelines.
  • Complete all trainings as scheduled.
  • Other job related duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:


  • Bachelor degree in Astronomy or a related field or equivalent certificate(s) or work experience             


  • 1-2 years of experience in the field of astronomy
  • Experience with infrared astronomical data, data modeling, and/or statistics is a plus
  • Experience with astronomical data reduction using IDL or Python                  

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities: 

  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as a team player
  • Ability to work effectively with co-workers and supervisor in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Knowledge of analysis software, or willingness and ability to learn them rapidly
  • Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.
  • Ability to write routine reports and correspondence
  • Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions.
  • Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.
  • Previous experience in a variety of research techniques/methods and follow-up data collection is strongly preferred
  • Knowledge of research procedures and protocols gained through education and/or experience
  • Ability to evaluate research data / the technical results of experiments and to identify problems when they occur
  • Strong organizational skills and detail orientation
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.

 Working Conditions:

This job operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage. This is largely a sedentary role.


No travel required.


Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita.  Review of candidates will begin immediately.  Additional information on USRA can be found at


USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender

Application Deadline: 
Monday, June 24, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, June 24, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis
Talent Acquisition
Zip/Postal Code: 
United States of America
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis