Assistant Scientist (4544)

Observatory Service and Science Charlottesville (or TBD), Virginia


Position Description:


Position Summary


NRAO’s mission is to enable forefront research into the Universe at radio wavelengths.  In partnership with the scientific community we:


  • provide world leading telescopes, instrumentation and expertise,
  • train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and
  • promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.


To fulfill its mission, the NRAO has a scientific staff and supports a program of staff scientific research that enables leadership and high quality in all these areas. Staff scientists are expected to push the telescopes’ capabilities, building on their own research and the needs of the broader astronomical community.

The Science Support and Research Division of NRAO is recruiting for a 3-year term NRAO scientific staff position as an Assistant Scientist to support development of a new suite of telescope time allocation tools. The successful candidate will join the proposal handling team and contribute to the execution of the NRAO/GBO time allocation process.

This appointment will be made on the basis of the candidates’ demonstrated abilities to contribute to the development of the new suite of software, support the existing time allocation process, conduct an independent research program, and broaden the impact of NRAO. The successful candidate shall have demonstrated experience in proposing for and observing with competitively scheduled astronomical facilities. Candidates are required to demonstrate the highest level of professional integrity, clear communication skills (both interpersonal and in the specification of software), and independence.


Appointments may be in residence at our NRAO headquarters located in Charlottesville, Virginia or Socorro, NM. Although relocation is not required, candidates must reside in the continental United States and must have current authorization to work in the United States. 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. Our 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

NRAO staff scientists are expected to carry out an independent research program using 25% of their time. An applicant’s research program may be multi-wavelength in nature as long as it has synergies with NRAO facilities. Active and engaged research is important because staff scientists are expected to push the telescopes’ capabilities, building on their own research and the needs of the broader astronomical community. Finally, staff scientists are also expected to be versatile and adapt to new challenges and opportunities as NRAO and the astronomical landscape evolves.

Duties supporting the current proposal process will likely include developing the call for proposals (including the documentation and associated tools), responding to helpdesk tickets; assisting with the management and support of the science review process and assisting in the time allocation process; and similar related duties as assigned.

The successful candidate will also contribute to the specification, validation, and documentation of the new suite of time allocation tools.

The hiring committee will consider all applicants who meet the minimum qualifications. Appointments are expected to be to the NRAO Scientist track, with 25% discretionary research time and 75% functional responsibilities. For functional work, the staff scientists will be members of the SSR Department and will report to the Assistant Director of SSR or their designee.

Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

  • Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics or a related field

Minimum Experience

  • One year of postdoctoral work experience or equivalent
  • Experience proposing for and observing with competitively scheduled astronomical facilities

Preferred Experience

  • Experience in observatory or telescope operations
  • Experience with radio/millimeter Astronomy
  • Experience proposing for and observing with NRAO/GBO facilities (VLA/VLBA/GBT)
  • Experience specifying and validating software
  • Geographically-distributed team environment
  • Experience on proposal review or Time Allocation panels
  • Established record of independent research
  • Demonstrated interest in broadening participation and scientific community outreach

Application Instructions:

Select the “Apply” button below. Please prepare a single PDF document consisting of the following items:

1. Cover letter stating why you are interested in this position – the letter should describe how your education and experience match the requirements and qualifications described above (maximum 2 pages).

2. Curriculum vitae

3. List of refereed publications

4. Description of research accomplishments and future research plans (maximum 3 pages)

Applicants should also arrange for two letters of reference (max 2 pages) to be sent to

The deadline for receipt of applications is Oct 16, 2020 at 23:59 ET. Please direct inquiries to Dr. Jeffrey Kern at

Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:


AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to



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.