Assistant Scientist/Software Engineer II-IV (4636)

Computers/Software Socorro, New Mexico Charlottesville, Virginia Albuquerque, New Mexico Remote, United States


Position Description:


Position Summary

Would you like to be writing mission-critical software for one of the most famous and accomplished scientific endeavors on the planet? Would you like to be part of a highly skilled international team who are pushing the boundaries of humankind’s knowledge of the universe?


The CASA team at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory seeks a scientific software developer with a strong technical background in interferometric calibration and imaging techniques, ideally with specific experience in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) and an interest in facilitating forefront astrophysical research, to supplement our efforts supporting general data reduction for the NRAO Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).  The Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) package is a collection of Python and C++ routines used to process single-dish and interferometric data collected by the world’s premiere radio observatories (JVLA, ALMA, VLBA, EHT, etc.), producing images used for astrophysical analyses by radio astronomers world-wide. CASA software development staff are responsible for all aspects of the software lifecycle from requirements derivation through design, development, and integration into telescope operations. Eligible candidates must be capable of formulating complex, technical solutions suitable for operational deployment from broad scientific objectives in a research environment. They must possess both software engineering domain knowledge as well as the educational background, experience, and ability to understand the basic scientific and technical concepts of radio interferometry.


The selected candidate can choose to work in one of the following locations:


  1. Charlottesville, VA, situated on the grounds of the University of Virginia (;
  2. Socorro, NM, a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque and on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (;
  3. Albuquerque, NM, in the Science and Technology Park which is located on the South Campus of The University of New Mexico ( Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico with a wide variety of restaurants, entertainment, and cultural events. With over 300 days of sunshine each year, both cities offer ample access to outdoor recreation.

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. NRAO’s 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

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:


    Design, develop, and integrate Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) data reduction capabilities into the CASA codebase

    Design, and develop new radio interferometer data reduction algorithm implementations as needed by new scientific objectives

    Maintain existing algorithm implementations in support of ongoing telescope operations and research endeavors

    Build and maintain data processing and analysis software infrastructure necessary to load and store data reduction inputs and outputs

    Operate in a team environment, including with the broader NRAO scientific staff and world-wide CASA stakeholder community

    Advise on the production of data-processing pipelines for the VLBA (and similar instruments) using CASA, and provide related general user support

    Adapt traditional CASA implementations, including VLBA-specific functionality, to the more modern data-processing frameworks envisaged and under development for future instruments, e.g. ngVLA and SKA

    Take ownership of the VLBA/VLBI subset of functions in CASA and provide technical direction, decision making, and subject matter expertise in that area with limited guidance or specific direction


Qualifications Summary


    Experience with radio-interferometric observing and data-processing techniques in general, and desirably, in VLBI specifically, and a sound understanding of their application to astrophysical study of the universe

    Experience with large development projects in C++ and Python on Linux

    Experience with scientific software development, numerical processing techniques, linear algebra, digital signal processing concepts, and mathematical packages such as Python/numpy

    Familiarity with High Performance Computing and Big Data concepts including distributed data storage, parallel I/O, parallel processing, and memory caching

    An understanding of formal software engineering principles including design, documentation, ticketing systems, version control, testing frameworks, and requirements traceability

    Ability to learn new scientific concepts and apply learning to engineering implementation, specifically in radio astronomy and interferometry

    For a scientific staff appointment, a demonstrated record of scientific research publications


Work Environment

Work is typically performed in a research or development office environment. May occasionally work at high altitudes. Occasional travel (domestic, and possibly international) will be required.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Bachelor’s degree in astrophysics, mathematics, computer science, or a related field. 


Preferred Education

An advanced degree and background that includes research physics or mathematics is highly desired; a PhD makes possible (but does not guarantee) appointment to the NRAO scientific staff.


Minimum Experience

At least one year of direct or related experience in scientific research and software development commensurate with stated qualifications. Candidates with progressively more responsible experience will be considered for a higher-level position ranking.

If appointed as Assistant Scientist (with a PhD), the successful candidate will also have 25% of their time for self-directed research, preferably in the general area of radio interferometry calibration and imaging, or its application to astrophysics.  Appointments as Software Engineer will not have self-directed research time.


Additional Requirements

Must have received or be willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by date of hire to be considered for U.S.-based vacancies.


Application Instructions:

Select the Apply button below. You will need to be prepared to upload your current resume and cover letter.

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 [email protected].




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