Computers/Software Charlottesville (or TBD), Virginia


CASA Lead Position


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is actively seeking a candidate with a combination of software, management, and ideally, astronomy experience to join the Data Management and Software Department as the CASA Group Lead.  The CASA Group is responsible for the Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) package, and the CASA pipelines, which provide heuristic-based automated processing for calibration and imaging.  These software products have the primary responsibility of supporting the data post-processing needs of NRAO’s current generation of radio astronomical telescopes, ALMA and the VLA.  Additionally, CASA is committed to supporting the needs of the broader radio astronomy community.  CASA can process both interferometric and single dish data, and is developed by an international consortium of scientists and developers based at the National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), the CSIRO division for Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) under the guidance of NRAO.

The CASA infrastructure consists of a suite of C++ tools bundled together under an iPython interface as a set of data reduction tasks. This structure provides flexibility to process the data via task interface or as a python script. In addition to the data reduction tasks, many post-processing tools are available for even more flexibility and special purpose reduction needs.  The CASA pipelines add a layer of telescope specific heuristics, implemented in python, connected to observatory systems to allow automated data calibration and imaging.


Appointment as a scientific staff member could be considered for suitably qualified applicants with an appropriate research record.


Job Summary:


The Group Lead is the head of the international CASA development team including development teams in other regions, and is responsible for the overall technical and programmatic management of the extended team. The successful candidate will also take responsibility for regular reporting on management status and compliance with deadlines to senior management at NRAO and other participating organizations, will be asked to present that status to other stakeholders or advisory bodies in formal or informal reviews.

In addition, the CASA Group Lead is responsible for the personnel management of the NRAO CASA development group.

Programmatic management involves oversight of all aspects of the lifecycle of software for which the group is responsible, including:

  • Gathering of requirements, development planning, task assignment, progress tracking, integration, and acceptance, while fulfilling high standards of quality. 

Technical management involves interacting directly with all group members:

  • Maintaining a consistent view and quality of implementation across all of the software. 
  • Approving technical direction within the group. 
  • Interacting with a team of expert developers and improving on present practices whenever and wherever appropriate, in agreement with the Software Division Head where necessary.

Personnel management involves:

  • Monthly monitoring of time sheets and periodic performance reviews (at least yearly), including interacting with the Human Resources and Business departments of the observatory when necessary. 
  • Motivating staff during group meetings and personal periodic reviews.
  • Establishing fair objectives and goals for further personal development, training and improvement during the reviews. 

As the leader of an international development project, experience in achieving results indirectly, e.g. in collaborations or through people in other organizations is a key to success in this position.

Competency Summary:

The CASA Group Lead is expected to have demonstrated experience leading software development groups, preferably within the domain of astronomy.

The successful candidate shall also have experience in leading a distributed team of developers and be familiar with management, planning, and reporting aspects.  The candidate should be prepared to deal with already ongoing activities, while also having the ability to formulate a long-term direction.  Candidates should have experience balancing the maintenance, improvement, and enhancement of operational software.

Planning skills and appropriate management of a team of expert developers and scientists are essential. Competency and experience dealing with the development process from requirements gathering, to development, testing and the formalism needed to achieve an orderly process is also expected.  Must be able to build strong and productive relationships with stakeholders who have complex and sometimes conflicting requirements, such as scientists, development partners, and operations organizations.  Strong decision-making, consensus building, and communication skills are essential.


Minimum Education:

Bachelor’s degree in computer science, physics, astronomy, or related field.  Advanced degree is preferred.

Minimum Experience:

At least ten years of experience in software development, with at least five or more years of experience leading a software group of ten or more people. Equivalent relevant experience will be considered. 

Preferred Experience:

Relevant experience with radio astronomy analysis software and procedures is preferred. Knowledge of radio interferometric theory and practice would be valuable. Demonstrated leadership in complex environments and experience leading larger software teams is preferred.

Additional skills & Abilities:

  • Strong interpersonal and group communications skills, oral and written.
  • Familiarity with a wide variety of technologies, such as C, C++, Python, testing frameworks, threading, parallelization.
  • Must possess strong leadership and delegation capabilities.  Ability to maintain and develop productive collaborations across organizations, anticipate and mitigate political and technical issues.
  • Demonstrated strong initiative in refining and clarifying requirements, defining and implementing QA processes, plan definition and monitoring, defining technical direction, and facilitating alignment.
  • Ability to learn new areas and apply learning.
  • Strong troubleshooting and problem-solving abilities.
  • Familiarity with project management concepts and techniques. 

Additional Information

Domestic and international travel will be required.

Duty Station: Charlottesville, VA or Socorro, NM

Applicant Instructions:

For consideration please upload your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position as your application materials. Click on "apply" below.

Applicant deadline has been extended to Friday,  June 23, 2017 close of business.

Applicant material will be reviewed upon receipt.

 Further information: For questions specific to the nature of the position please reach out to Morgan Griffith at or Brian Glendenning at

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is an equal opportunity employer (M/V/F/D)