ngVLA Research Associate (4290) - UPDATED

Research Socorro, New Mexico Charlottesville, Virginia


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory invites applications for a next-generation VLA (ngVLA) Configuration Research Associate. The successful applicant will work within the ngVLA project team on a detailed investigation of the configuration and image simulation work with the ngVLA.


The position is initially available for two years starting April 15, 2018 (or sooner), with a third year contingent on progress and available funding.  Funding for the successful applicant to attend and present at domestic and international meetings will be available.


The position will be based at either the Science Operations Center in Socorro, NM on the campus of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ( or at the NRAO Headquarters in Charlottesville, VA on the grounds of the University of Virginia ( In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.


Job Duties Summary

The successful candidate will be an essential part of the ngVLA effort as the project prepares for the Astronomy 2020 Decadal Survey.   The primary focus will be performing a highlevel study that continues development of a practical configuration for the array. This may include variations on the current baseline configuration to add longer baselines or address performance deficiencies identified throughout the study, as well as the inclusion of a short-spacing array to help fill in missing baselines shorter than the ngVLA dish diameter. This study should also include an analysis of the required data weights to approximate Gaussian synthesized beams at different angular scales to maximize image fidelity. This study is expected to be carried out in close collaboration with the imaging algorithm development team at NRAO.  The appointee will be allocated time to carry out independent research.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

The appointee will be expected to spend 75% of their time on duties directly related to configuration studies for the ngVLA, under the guidance of Dr. Chris Carilli. Those duties will include:

  • Creation and validation of an optimized configuration for the ngVLA that is both practical and maximizes imaging fidelity while maintaining optimal noise performance on the range of spatial scales required by the ngVLA Key Science Goals.
  • Evaluate array concepts, while exploring real-world array constraints like roads, fiber, terrain, land availability, and RFI sources.
  • Creation of tools that will enable the community to run imaging simulations with the ngVLA.
  • An investigation of how the ngVLA configuration performs in the context of a VLBI array spanning continental baselines. 
  • A study of the image fidelity by inclusion of a short baseline array and associated requirements, such as quantification of the need for a single-dish total power mode, and if so, what the requirements on those measurements are.

The appointee will have the opportunity to use 25% of their time for independent research; independent research for this position is strongly encouraged and should contribute to radio astronomy, NRAO, and ngVLA futures.


Work Environment

Work is typically conducted in an office environment.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

PhD in astronomy or related field.


Minimum Experience

Observational astronomy, data analysis.


Preferred Experience

A strong background in interferometry; skilled at using python and CASA for data analysis and public tool creation; a strong record of independent research.


Application Instructions:


To apply, please prepare a single PDF document consisting of the following items:

  • Cover letter stating why you are interested in this position.  The letter should describe how your skillset matches the position and qualifications summarized. 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Publication List
  • Summary of past research experience (~2 pages)
  • A detailed description of your past technical experiences as they relate to your ability to undertake each of the essential duties and responsibilities outlined for this position (~3 pages).
  • Future research plan describing specific synergies with the ngVLA and other AUI facilities (~2 pages)


The PDF file is to be uploaded with the “Add Resume” feature at the career site; the file name should follow this convention:  LName,F_ngVLA RA.PDF.


IMPORTANT: Please have three letters of recommendation sent to by March 1, 2018.


For inquiries about the position, please contact Dr. Bryan Butler at bbutler@nrao.eduReview of applications will begin on February 15, 2018 and will continue until the application deadline of March 1, 2018.


The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)





The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.