Observatory Scientist, Open Rank (4713)

Observatory Service and Science Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:



Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) 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.

The NRAO is recruiting one or more scientific staff positions to be located in Socorro, NM, the home of the Domenici Science Operations Center (DSOC), which houses the scientific, engineering, technical, computer and support staff for both the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The Science Operations Center also houses the control center and correlator for VLBA observations and hosts personnel working on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project. Members of the NRAO scientific staff have diverse operational functions within the Observatory, which include both technical support to the Observatory’s instruments and scientific support to the Observatory’s user community. NRAO scientists are expected to carry out independent research; those at the DSOC have opportunities to become expert users of the VLA and/or the VLBA, which can be of great benefit to their own research.

The appointment(s) may be made at the level of Assistant Scientist, Associate Scientist, or Scientist, based on the experience and the expertise of the successful applicant(s).

Job Duties Summary


The position entails 25% independent research and 75% functional responsibilities. For functional work, the staff scientist will be a member of the VLA/VLBA Science Support Division within NRAO’s NM Operations, and will have opportunities to work on various VLA and/or VLBA related topics. Examples of functional responsibilities for the members of the scientific staff are:


  • Developing new observing capabilities and modes for the VLA and/or the VLBA;
  • Characterizing instrument performance for the VLA and/or the VLBA, and working with engineering and maintenance groups to identify and solve problems;
  • Supporting the planning and the testing of various software tools for the VLA and/or the VLBA, and working with the software engineers and developers to identify and solve problems;
  • Supporting the VLA and/or the VLBA users in all areas;
  • Supporting the operations of the VLA Sky Survey (VLASS) and the Science Ready Data Products (SRDP) project;
  • Supporting VLA and/or VLBA telescope scheduling and time allocation;
  • Supporting or leading telescope development projects (such as new receivers, new recording systems, etc.)


or other areas such as design and testing for the Next Generation VLA (ngVLA), as dictated by the immediate needs of the observatory and the skills and interests of the successful applicant.


All NRAO staff scientists are also expected to carry out an independently-directed research program. This may be multi-wavelength in nature but should have synergies with NRAO facilities; for this position, research which makes significant use of the VLA and/or the VLBA will be preferred. 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. Current DSOC staff scientists are working on a wide range of scientific topics, from planetary science to stars to external galaxies to cosmology, including time-variable phenomena. The staff scientist(s) recruited for this position will become a part of that range of scientific research, in these or other areas. Opportunities for advising students and postdocs are available both through internal and external support.


The ideal candidate will contribute to the overall NRAO mission and must be able to demonstrate the ability to work within a collaborative environment that promotes motivation, leadership and team building, in both scientific and functional areas. NRAO staff scientists are expected to be versatile and flexible in their science and functional work to adapt to new challenges and opportunities as NRAO and the astronomical landscape evolve.

Location and Compensation


Appointment(s) will be based in Socorro, New Mexico; the DSOC is located in Socorro on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (www.nmt.edu). Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque. Partial teleworking arrangements may be considered.

In addition to competitive pay, the 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.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

PhD in astronomy, astrophysics or related field


Minimum Experience

Two years of postdoctoral experience or equivalent experience


Preferred Experience

  • Experience with observatory science operations
  • Evidence of ability to function in an observatory setting
  • Experience with radio interferometry and/or Very Long Baseline Interferometry
  • Established record of independent research
  • Familiarity with scientific computing/observatory software/radio astronomy technology
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a changing work environment
  • Strong interpersonal skills/team work/proficiency in communication (verbal and written)
  • Demonstrated interest in broadening participation






Application Instructions:


For consideration, apply online at the careers page. 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 you match the position and qualifications summarized above (no more than 3 pages)
  2. Curriculum vitae including publications list
  3. Summary of past research (2 pages)
  4. Future research plan describing specifically synergies with NRAO facilities (3 pages)
  5. Summary of past technical and observational experience relevant to this position (2 pages)


The PDF file is to be uploaded with the “Add Resume” feature at the applicant portal; the file name format should follow this convention: LastNameFirstInitial_VLAVLBASci.pdf. The deadline for receipt of complete applications is May 15, 2022. Each applicant should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be submitted by individuals familiar with their technical and scientific abilities directly to Mr. Jarred Panger ([email protected]). These letters MUST be received by May 22, 2022 (please have the referee use the file naming convention LastNameFirstInitial_VLAVLBA_recommendation.pdf). Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of recommendation are sent by the referees. Please direct inquiries to Dr. Emmanuel Momjian ([email protected]).


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 http://jobs.jobvite.com/nrao/jobs. 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 [email protected].



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