Head of the ALMA Department of Science Operations (4864)

Executive Management Santiago, Chile



ALMA Vacancy Notice




The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world’s preeminent facility for millimeter and submillimeter-wave astronomy with transformational capabilities to study the origin of galaxies, stars, and planets. ALMA consists of 66 antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile, and equipped with receivers covering atmospheric windows between 30 and 950 GHz.


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).  ALMA continued development and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia.


The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the continued development, enhancement, and operation of ALMA.



The Joint ALMA Observatory invites applications for the position of:


Head of the ALMA Department of Science Operations (DSO)



The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is seeking an experienced senior science manager to lead its Department of Science Operations, which is responsible for the science operations of the international ALMA radio astronomy observatory in Chile. This is an outstanding opportunity to lead the scientific operations of the most ambitious ground-based observatory operational in the world today.


The Head of the ALMA Department of Science Operations (DSO) is responsible for the management and leadership of the scientific program from data acquisition to data delivery, observatory calibration, and improvements to overall performance of the observatory.  The Head of DSO is expected to manage, directly or indirectly, a team of approximately 40 staff members grouped in four teams.


The Head of DSO will report to the ALMA Deputy Director of Operations and will be a member of the JAO’s Core Management Team where it is expected that he/she/they will make key contributions to the strategic planning, policy development and implementation, diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as the overall decision-making at the JAO, ensuring the adoption within DSO staff. The Head of DSO will closely collaborate with both Computing and Engineering Heads of Department and will participate in the Joint Operations Team at JAO.


The Head of DSO also plays a critical role outside the JAO as well by coordinating a team of science operations managers from the ALMA regions.  The Head of DSO will, in coordination with the Directorship and the Observatory Scientist, interact with the user community and various agencies regarding ALMA’s performance and future.


The ALMA observatory is fully operational, with all 66 antennas dedicated to science. The operation of the array requires careful attention, coordination and consultation on the part of the Head of DSO within the JAO and the Executives (ESO, AUI/NRAO, NAOJ). ALMA also has a dedicated development line which will continue to provide new capabilities and instrumentation to keep its position as a cutting edge astronomical facility. The Head of DSO is central in assessing the potential consequences of any proposed development idea on ALMA operations and will help plan the Science Operations portion of the integration and commissioning plan for any approved ALMA Development projects. This includes planning for the ALMA Wideband Sensitivity Upgrade as part of the ALMA 2030 Roadmap.


  1. Leading the team responsible for science operations outcomes, science program optimization, data quality assurance and monitoring, and associated budget and staffing.


  1. Delivering all JAO science operations outcomes, including:
  • Collection, processing and delivery of scientific data;
  • Observation queue and potential modifications to the required configuration schedule;
  • Commissioning and validation of upgrades of the array;
  • Up-to-date Quality Control of the scientific and calibration data;
  • Identification of opportunities to improve the scientific performance of the array;
  • Execution, maintenance and update of the Observatory Calibration Plan.


  1. Leading a high performance and diverse team and keep it highly engaged through the implementation of policies and best practices in people management, including professional development and training of DSO staff. Empower the managers and supervisors to create high performing sub teams, while maintaining the unity within the team.


  1. Optimizing and executing the science program, including:
  • the approved projects submitted by the community;
  • necessary calibrations, which needs to be optimized given weather, testing, and general improvements in array operations;
  • close coordination and collaboration with the Heads of the ALMA Departments of Computing and Engineering, as well as the Observatory Scientist to provide input on optimal program execution and completion.


  1. Overseeing scientific data quality assurance, including trend analysis and fault investigation and reporting.


  1. Monitoring the array status and providing science program requirements to the Deputy Director for Operations, in matters related to integration and eventual implementation with the Departments of Engineering and Computing activities.


  1. Oversight the validation, end to end testing, and acceptance of relevant software for science operations.


  1. Managing the DSO resources, including staff plan and relevant budget, and the allocation of staff to tasks and projects.


  1. Leading an integrated team consisting of the science operations leads from the three regional ALMA Support Centers, which provide considerable portions of ALMA science operations. This integrated team’s role includes:
  • coordinating science operations globally;
  • making important decisions and recommendations regarding how to serve the user community and execute the global aspects of ALMA Science Operations.


  1. Maintaining awareness of, and some active participation in, the research astronomy community. To this end, the Head of DSO will have support and a fraction of time reserved for active research that will depend on the applicant contractual conditions.




Applicants for this position should fulfill the following requirements:


  1. PhD in Astronomy or Physics, or equivalent demonstrable experience;
  2. At least eight years of operations experience in a large astronomical research or observatory facility, including:
  • At least four years of management responsibility of medium to large groups, with multiple critical tasks;
  • A proven track record in planning and delivering timely outcomes;
  • Proven ability to operate in complex international organizational structures and to integrate organizational strategy and departmental goals;
  1. Fluency in English (oral and written) is essential; knowledge of Spanish will be an asset.
  2. Due to travel requirements and work at high altitudes, a successful high altitude medical check is a necessary condition of employment for this position.


Previous research experience in astronomically relevant subfields is also desirable.




  • Excellent leadership and communication skills to lead a high-performing and diverse team and willingness to continue developing them,
  • Effective interpersonal and communication skills required to work within a multi-cultural international partnership,
  • Proven capability to establish, identify and communicate a broad and compelling organizational direction;
  • Demonstrable excellent managerial skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to perform and/or oversee the analysis of complex policy and program issues in areas such as human resources, finance, logistics, and administration;
  • Strong ability and willingness to lead, coach, supervise, mentor, and evaluate staff with diverse skills and cultural backgrounds, as well as to design training and skills-enhancement initiatives that ensure effective staff development;
  • Political intelligence and influence, being able to manage internal and external stakeholder relationships;


Joint ALMA Observatory Values


At the joint ALMA Observatory, we believe that our core values model our behavior in our workplace.

Our core values are:

1.We aim for excellence in everything we do

2.We treat each other with respect and value our diversity

3.We strive to achieve best solutions and outstanding results through collaboration

4.We care about ourselves and those around us, our environment and our resources


Candidate to any of our vacancies are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


Duty Station / Location of Position


  • The duty station is the Santiago Office of the Joint ALMA Observatory with occasional (~15%) travel to the ALMA operations site near San Pedro de Atacama: the Operations Support Facility (OSF) at 2900 m and the Array Operations Site (AOS) located on the nearby Llano de Chajnantor at 5000 m altitude. International travel will be required as well.
  • Work is performed typically in an administrative environment, mainly indoors.


Starting Date


As soon as possible.


Application and contracts

ALMA International Staff will be recruited as employees of ESO, AUI/NRAO or NAOJ. Each of these employers offer competitive remuneration packages including a competitive salary as well as comprehensive social benefits, and provide financial support in relocating families. Furthermore, if applicable, an expatriation allowance as well as some other allowances will be added.


ALMA International Staff Members will be engaged to work at the JAO through one of the Executives: ESO, AUI/NRAO or NAOJ. Candidates should apply through the Recruitment Portal(s) from one of the three ALMA Executive (ESO, AUI/NRAO, NAOJ). The successful candidates will receive contract offers from one or more of the Executives depending on their preferences and the availability of positions at the JAO.


Qualified candidates with extensive relevant experience are invited to apply by submitting an application to one of the ALMA Executives. Each application should be written in English and must include:

  • Motivational cover letter;
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Name and contact details of three professional references.


Details of the application process and information about conditions and remuneration are provided in the Recruitment Portals of the ALMA partners:


Applicants submitting their application to ESO are invited to apply online at https://jobs.eso.org/.


Applicants submitting their application to AUI/NRAO are invited to apply online at https://careers.nrao.edu.


Applicants submitting their application to NAOJ are invited to send the application and all documents to [email protected]


The initial deadline for receipt of applications to be considered for the position is August 18th, 2023. However, applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled.


ESO, NRAO, and NAOJ are Equal Opportunity Employers.


For further information please consult (www.almaobservatory.org), as well as the ESO, NRAO, and NAOJ.

Home Pages (www.eso.org), (www.nrao.edu), or www.nao.ac.jp/en/).