Adaptive Optics Scientist

Posted on
Current state: Approved
Department: Gemini Observatory
City: Hilo
State/Province: Hawaii
Country: USA
Contact Email: [email protected]
Institution: NOIRLab
Application Due Date: Thursday, December 31 2020
Web Link:

The International Gemini Observatory, part of the NSF’s NOIRLab, has an immediate opening for an ADAPTIVE OPTICS SCIENTIST at our Northern Base Facility.  We are committed to diversity and inclusion at Gemini Observatory. Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, 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

We seek an individual who can thrive in a culturally diverse environment. The Adaptive Optics Scientist will play a leading role in the operations and maintenance of the Altair Adaptive Optics facility at Gemini North, and the development and operations of the GNAO Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics facility being planned for Gemini North. GNAO will be a Laser Guide Star Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system operated as a facility class system on Gemini North.  This position will be part of the Technology Development Department within the National Optical Infrared Research Laboratory, which includes our Adaptive Optics operations and development staff across both Gemini telescopes. This position will be based at Gemini North in Hilo, Hawaii, with work occasionally required at the Gemini North telescope on the Maunakea summit. The position will mostly work regular office hours, however, night-shift observing duties will also be required, mostly remotely from the base facility in Hilo. Occasional travel to international destinations including Gemini South in La Serena, Chile may be required. This position will be filled at either the Postdoctoral Fellow, Assistant Scientist, Associate Scientist, or Scientist level depending on the skills and experience of the successful candidate. The initial appointment will be for 3 years, with the possibility of extension or renewal based on satisfactory performance, operational needs and funding availability.

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid vacation leave, parental leave and retirement benefits. 

All applicants must submit a cover letter with their resume that describes their interest in this position and their relevant experience along with three professional references. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Interviews will be scheduled for candidates who meet the minimum qualifications and complete the application process as instructed. The position will remain open until filled.

Essential Functions:

  • Supports the AO instruments and AO observations at Gemini, including daytime calibrations and tests as well as night time operations and support.
  • Coordinates with AO staff and Gemini Science and Engineering Operations to organize and manage upgrades, maintenance and improvements to Gemini AO systems.
  • Carries out observational/research projects and prepares results for publication.
  • Provides specialist advice to others on scientific exploitation of Gemini facilities.                                                                               
  • Organizes commissioning and ongoing development of Gemini telescopes, AO instrumentation and support facilities.
  • Contributes to development of software for reduction and analysis of Gemini AO data.
  • Tests, calibrates, maintains and documents new and existing astronomical equipment, including AO instruments, observing systems and software, working with engineering staff.
  • 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.
  • Serves on interview panels.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities

Qualified candidates will have a  Ph.D. in Astronomy or related field and at least 3 years of experience working with Adaptive Optics systems, preferably at a major ground based astronomical observatory. This is not a requirement for hiring as a postdoctoral fellow, but is required at any of the scientist levels.  Additional requirements include excellent technical writing, advanced computer and oral/public speaking communication skills with the ability to communicate with a wide variety of staff, visiting observers and remote investigators throughout the Gemini partnership. Must be able to work in small teams as well as work independently and possess the motivation and ability to identify and carry out new projects in a team environment while participating in the day-to-day operations of the observatory.   Possess excellent team player skills with an aptitude for dealing with practical problems and issues is necessary. Knowledge of theoretical and observational approaches to exploring the origins and astrophysical properties of celestial objects and the Universe.  Familiarity with spectroscopy, direct imaging and ground-based observing. Proficiency with astronomical software and data reduction techniques. Must be able to contribute to scientific research programs using Gemini. Must be able and willing to travel internationally and work in a culturally diverse

Physical Demands:

The physical demands as described in the Adaptive Optics Scientist Job Description 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.

The work of an Adaptive Optics Scientist is mostly carried out in an office environment near sea level. Long periods of sitting may be required.  

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three 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 NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

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 and all of the centers, do 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.