Post Doctoral Research Associate

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, March 6, 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 NSO is seeking a post-doctoral research associate to work on the validation of science (level-2) data products in the solar chromosphere, in preparation for the first light of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) of the National Science Foundation (NSO).

The NSO has initiated an effort – funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Dr. Han Uitenbroek – that includes the inversion of spectro-polarimetric observations of the chromosphere with the DKIST, using the newly developed Departure coefficient driven Spectro-polarimetric Inversion with Response functions (DeSIRe) code. DeSIRe solves the Non-Local Thermodynamic (NLTE) problem of the magnetized chromosphere taking into account the line polarization induced by the Zeeman effect. It is expected that scattering polarization and the Hanle effect will also contribute importantly to the polarization of chromospheric signals (the so-called “NLTE of the 2nd kind”), especially above the quiet Sun and for near-the-limb observations. The complexity of the forward model for the scattering polarization in the magnetized chromosphere, unfortunately, makes it very hard to design efficient and reliable inversion schemes that could be used for routinely processing the very large data output that are expected of the DKIST.

Given the present lack of viable tools for inversion of chromospheric signals affected by scattering polarization, a useful first step is to validate the inversion products of DeSIRe and quantify the “errors” caused by neglecting scattering polarization and the Hanle effect. This can be done by using a forward model that includes scattering polarization in order to synthesize the spectral line polarization produced by DeSIRe-inverted atmospheres, and compare it with the original observations. The forward model that we identified for this task is the HanleRT code, which was developed at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (HAO-NCAR), also in Boulder.

The successful candidate will work under the joint supervision of Dr. Roberto Casini (HAO) and Dr. Han Uitenbroek (NSO), and will be located at HAO. He/she will learn the physics of scattering polarization and the Hanle effect, polarized radiative transfer, and the application of both the DeSIRe and HanleRT code. The main deliverable of this appointment is the development of a data pipeline between the two codes, which will be capable of producing “synthetic maps” of the solar chromosphere using HanleRT, to be compared with the DKIST observations, starting from inverted data products from DeSIRe. An additional outcome will be the conception of a numerical/statistical approach to quantify the errors on the DeSIRe-inverted atmospheres based on the variance between the real and synthetic observations.

The appointment is initially for one year, renewable for a second year, contingent upon satisfactory performance and availability of funds.

Requirements: PhD in Physics, Astrophysics, or related sciences; proficiency in Fortran 90, and OpenMPI; experience with data visualization methods and tools (e.g., IDL, Python VTK) and high-performance computing will be necessary. Basic knowledge of C is desirable.

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

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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

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 22, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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