Scientist (Open Rank)

Observatory Service and Science Charlottesville, Virginia


 Scientist-Open Rank



Position Description:

Position Summary: 

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory enables 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 North American ALMA Regional Center (NA ARC) is recruiting for two NRAO scientific staff positions.   The NA ARC is the science operations division of North American ALMA. It supports the North American astronomical community in using ALMA and, in collaboration with the ALMA international partners, provides scientific support for the operations of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) in Chile. ALMA is entering routine science operations with more than 4000 hours of scientific observations scheduled for each of the upcoming observing cycles.

The NRAO is seeking qualified candidates for two positions in the NA ARC.  Currently, there are four teams in the NA ARC: Telescope Interface and Diagnostics, ALMA Software Support & Testing, Science Community Interface and Science Data Services and Archive. The scientists recruited for these positions are expected to facilitate and enable cutting-edge science by the community and to help enhance the observing capabilities for ALMA. The ideal candidates will contribute to the overall NRAO mission and must be able to contribute to a collaborative environment that supports leadership and teamwork.  All qualified applicants will be considered, and we are particularly interested in candidates who will align with the mission of the Science Community Interface Team by engaging the scientific community and growing the ALMA user base beyond those with radio, millimeter and submillimeter expertise.

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, particularly ALMA. 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.  Candidates should discuss their versatility for functional work in their cover letter. 

Job Duties Summary: 

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 NA ARC and will report to the NA ARC Manager or their designee. Staff scientists within the NA ARC are involved in a variety of scientific support activities such as imaging data and developing imaging techniques; supporting investigators in obtaining, reducing, and analyzing data; engaging in community training activities; and supporting telescope operations in Santiago, Chile and at the Operations Support Facility near San Pedro de Atacama. The incumbent is expected to engage in programs to extend our reach into diverse and under-served communities.

The staff scientists will become integral members of the NA ARC and contribute to team activities under the direction of the team lead(s) and NA ARC Manager.

Appointments will be in residence in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Position Requirements:

Minimum Education

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


Minimum Experience

One year of postdoctoral work experience or equivalent experience

Willingness to travel to and work at a remote telescope facility on temporary assignments


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in an observatory setting
  • Two years or more of postdoctoral work experience or equivalent experience.
  • Established record of independent research
  • Experience with millimeter/sub millimeter astronomy and interferometry
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team
  • Familiarity with common software packages used in astronomical research
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a changing work environment
  • Demonstrated interest in broadening participation and scientific community outreach
  • Multi-wavelength research experience


Application Instructions:


Required Application Materials (to be submitted as a single .pdf): 

  1. Cover letter describing how the candidate’s education and experience meets the requirements and qualifications described above (no more than 2 pages)
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. List of Refereed publications
  4. Description of research accomplishments and future research plans (limited to 5 pages)


Applications should also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to by  December 29, 2017.


The deadline for receipt of applications is December 29, 2017 at 23:59 ET.  Please direct inquiries to Jim Braatz at



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