Senior AO Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Archive Date: 
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

We are currently seeking a Senior AO Scientist for the National Science Foundation funded operations. The position is located at the Gemini North (GN) Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii. The Senior AO Scientist will lead the development of Gemini North’s new adaptive optics system from a technical and scientific perspective, as the project’s Principal Investigator (PI). The Senior AO Scientist will work closely with the observatory directorate, project managers, systems engineers, and AO scientists to successfully complete the new Gemini North AO system (GNAO). The AO scientist is also involved in research related to the current and future capabilities of Gemini.

The Senior AO Scientist will be directly involved in the construction of a new multi-conjugate AO system for Gemini North leveraging modern, yet mature technologies to facilitate an aggressive 6-year project timeline. The program baseline concept including multiple side launched Laser Guide Stars, an Adaptive Secondary Mirror, Real-Time Control System, and an Adaptive Optics bench hosting additional Deformable Mirrors and Wave Front Sensors.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 40 US institutions and four international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.

Essential Functions:

  • Together with the Project Manager and Systems Engineer (The GNAO Management team), builds and leads a team to deliver a new Adaptive Optics system for Gemini North, fully commissioned for operations.
  • Coordinates team effort within Gemini’s existing framework.
  • Together with the GNAO Management team, produce project plans and reports. Workging with the proiect’s Systems Engineer, identify and lead trade studies to finalize the design of GNAO.
  • Prepare presentations and reports on the status and capabilities of GNAO to a variety of stakeholders.
  • Assists in leadership of Gemini’s new realtime computers (RTC) project to build new RTCs for its AO systems based on a new common platform.
  • Identifies, develops, and supports requirements generation for GNAO and its operation.
  • Presents scientific and technical results at astronomical meetings and symposia.
  • Maintains an interest in the scientific mission of Gemini, its relation to the wider scientific context and to the public interest.
  • Participates in observatory committees and national/international scientific organizations and meetings.
  • Contributes to public outreach and communicating astronomy to the public.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Demonstrated ability to build and lead teams to deliver complex AO systems.
  • Must be able to work independently, accepting broad mandates and delivering on them.
  • An ability to effectively communicate with a wide variety of staff and users throughout the Gemini partnership is essential.
  • Must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Must be able to travel internationally and work in a culturally diverse environment.
  • Ph.D. in Adaptive Optics, Astronomy or related field.
  • Must have at least ten years of experience in ground-based astronomy and adaptive optics system development.
  • Direct experience with spectroscopy, direct imaging and ground-based observing.
  • Proficiency with astronomical software and data reduction techniques.
  • Effective technical writing and public speaking communication skills.
  • Advanced computer literacy.

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.

We will interview candidates who meet the minimum basic qualifications upon receipt of application. The position will remain open until filled.   All applicants must submit a cover letter with their CV that describes their interest in this position and their relevant experience. Please include a list of 3 professional references with contact information.

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates.

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. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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