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Job Details

Requisition Number 17-0215
Post Date 10/4/2017
Title Senior Web Developer
City Tucson
State AZ

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates several observatory centers (including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation.

We are looking for a technical leader to build a web-based portal in support of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Education and Public Outreach (EPO) department, in the position of Senior Web Developer.

About us:

LSST is a large aperture, wide-field, ground-based facility designed to survey the entire southern sky down to faint magnitudes in six optical colors every few nights. As such it will enable a broad array of diverse and creative scientific investigations ranging from studies of moving objects in the solar system to constraining the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole. Through a visionary EPO program, non-specialists will interact with astronomical data in new ways to actively engage in scientific discovery.

Formal construction of this world-class survey facility began in August of 2014 as a joint project of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, resulting in the anticipated onset of science operations in late 2022. During the ongoing construction phase, funding has been allocated for the design, development, and evaluation of LSST EPO infrastructure, tools, and educational materials to be delivered with the LSST Observatory in preparation for full EPO operations in 2022.

About you:

One core component of LSST EPO's community mission is the delivery and support of a cloud-based web portal enabling educators, citizen scientists, and the general public to interact with petabytes of LSST astronomical data through various EPO applications and programs. These data will include a nightly stream of alert messages and images as well as annual releases of image and database data.

You will contribute to the LSST EPO's mission by leading the front-end web development of that portal. By collaborating with the EPO infrastructure and Data Management teams, you will enable attractive and intuitive interfaces for non-experts to rapidly analyze large data sets. You will also play a key role in expanding the portal's reach to mobile and social media platforms. This full-time position is based in Tucson, Arizona (assistance with relocation expenses is provided).

Our envisioned website:

  • Mobile friendly
  • Astronomy imagery viewer with pan/zoom navigation and clickable regions for displaying detailed information
  • Multimedia gallery
  • News features, dynamic content, and opportunities for the public to learn more about the telescope and the people involved
  • Information regarding active citizen science projects using LSST data
  • An education section for teachers and students, including integration with tools such as science notebooks

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Direct and assist in the development of the web-based, front-end system described above.
  • Coordinate development activities with other mobile developers and contractors.
  • Participate in cross-system design discussions to integrate the EPO back-end infrastructure with the website.
  • During iterative cycles of development and evaluation, you will engage as needed with user experience assessments, beta testing, and focus groups.
  • Monitor usage analytics and other evaluation metrics.

Basic Qualifications:

  • Exceptional web programming skills (HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS) and technical expertise with APIs, such as data access and authentication.
  • Proven experience with source control (preferably git), online code management systems (preferably Github), and related agile workflows.
  • Superb written communication and documentation skills.
  • Willingness to travel occasionally and present to technical and non-technical groups.
  • Communicate with individuals remotely using a variety of technologies, including: email, phone calls, instant messaging, teleconferencing.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • At least 2-5 years relevant experience.
  • Experience transforming mockup designs and component libraries into functional web pages.
  • Familiarity with scalable, cloud infrastructure, such as AWS.
  • Familiarity with tile-based, interactive map software, such as Leaflet.
  • Familiarity with science notebook technology, such as Jupyter.
  • Active member of the open source community.
  • Interest in outreach, citizen science, and/or education.

The position will remain open until filled, but applications received by December 10, 2017 will be given priority.

Please list 3 professional references in your application. Please submit a cover letter and CV/ resume (PDF Files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: 17-0215LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

  • Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided by OFCCP here.
  • The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor's legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)
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