Assistant Scientist

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

NSF’s NOIRLab has an immediate opening for two (2) Assistant Scientist-track positions to support scientific operations and carry out independent research in an area of their interest relevant to astronomy at the International Gemini Observatory. The positions can be filled at any level of seniority. One position will be based at our Northern Facility in Hilo, Hawai’i and the other at our Southern Facility, in La Serena, Chile. 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

Scientist positions are split 80/20, 80% functional duties and 20% personal research. The successful applicant  will have demonstrated scientific productivity in research, and possess the motivation and ability to identify and carry out new projects to completion while assisting in the day-to-day operations of the observatory.  The successful applicant will also possess excellent teamwork skills in order to work collaboratively with Gemini staff and scientists in our international community, and participate in observatory committees and external scientific organizations. 

Activities and Functions of the Job:

In this position, you will be:

  • Providing science support of instrumentation, telescope sub-systems, and facility. 
  • Participating in commissioning of instrumentation and support facilities.
  • Preparing nightly queue observing plans and executing queue-based observations for other astronomers in the Gemini communities.
  • Executing observations at night.
  • Supporting Gemini users with specification of their observing program using Gemini tools, and introducing visiting observers to the telescope and instruments.
  • Conducting tests, calibration, and maintenance and developing documentation of new and existing astronomical equipment, including control and data acquisition systems.
  • Conducting independent research in any area of astronomy.
  • Preparing and presenting scientific papers at astronomical meetings and symposia.

Training will be provided in these functions where needed.

Required Education/ Experience/ Skills/ Abilities:

We seek an individual with a Ph.D. in Physics, Astronomy or related discipline. Our telescopes and instruments specialize in optical and in IR astronomy. Therefore we are looking for a person with experience using optical/IR observations, analyzing data and producing and publishing science results. As a scientist, we expect you to have a demonstrated ability to perform independent research in optical/IR astronomy. The job requires you to work in a culturally diverse environment, and sometimes to travel internationally.  It is important to have good communication skills since you will have to communicate with a wide variety of staff, visiting observers and remote investigators throughout the Gemini partnership. 

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

Given Gemini Observatory’s telescopes and instrument capabilities, the following experiences are valued:  Experience using and/or developing optical/IR telescopes and/or instrumentation and/or Adaptive Optics capabilities.  Experience with working closely with engineering teams during science commissioning of astronomical instrumentation. The job will often require you to work with people from other disciplinary teams. Therefore it will be good if  you  have a  demonstrated ability to perform well in a diverse multidisciplinary team to solve problems and issues.    At the same time, it is important that you can work independently when necessary. And last but not least, a strong personal astronomical research program will be considered as an important benefit to function well in this role.

Physical Demands:

The work of a Gemini Scientist is mostly carried out in an office environment near sea level. Long periods of sitting may be required. You will be expected to perform night time duties as well as day time, working to a prearranged schedule.  Given the international nature of the observatory, you may also need to travel, and occasional work at high elevation (Maunakea, 4200m; Cerro Pachon, 2715m) may be required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities or other considerations to perform the essential functions.

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. 

All applicants must submit a Cover Letter with their CV that describes their interest in this position, their relevant experience, and their research interests. Please include a list of 3 professional references with contact information. PDF files preferred. Please name any attachments with the following format:  LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]

The position will be hired as a Scientist at an appropriate point in the AURA/Gemini Scientist non-tenure track, depending on the skills and experience of the successful applicant.

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

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected]

The Gemini Observatory is part of the NSF’s NOIRLab and is managed by The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), 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. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.