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Requisition Number 16-0157
Post Date 6/9/2016
Title Scientific Programmer/Science Data Analyst/DevOps Engineer
City Tucson
State AZ

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

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is an ambitious project, currently in active construction, to conduct a ten-year survey of the dynamic universe. LSST can map the entire visible sky in just a few nights; in the ten-year survey lifetime, LSST will map tens of billions of stars and galaxies enabling scientists to explore the structure of the Milky Way, determine the properties of dark energy and dark matter, and make discoveries that we have not yet imagined.

The Data Management subsystem of LSST is responsible for immediately analyzing images to identify objects that have change or moved: from exploding supernovae on the other side of the Universe to asteroids that might impact the Earth.

The Science Quality and Reliability Engineering (SQuaRE) team is a Data Management team that focuses in the following areas of project work: building systems for rapid ad-hoc analysis of data to determine image quality and facilitate trouble-shooting; developing tests to capture and analyze data characteristics during construction, commissioning and operations; devising and publishing metrics characterizing system performance; and supporting developers, the commissioning team and early science users in deploying, running and understanding the LSST software stack and the generated data products.

SQuaRE is a close-knit, technically vigorous team staffed by multi-skilled highly engaged generalists; we encourage an open source ethos (all our code is public on Github), an agile culture and devops engineering aesthetics in both the software and the scientific aspects of our work. We are soliciting applications for the technical areas below, which are representative of the range of our activities and scope. We are looking for excellent technical skills (engineering or scientific) and an active preference for working with detail-oriented team members in a project-driven environment. Candidates whose skills span more than one of the positions listed below and who value utilizing a variety of skills are strongly urged to apply.

These positions are located at the LSST Project Headquarters, situated on the University of Arizona Campus, in Tucson, Arizona. Assistance with relocation expenses is provided. Remote working is unlikely to be a viable option for these positions unless the successful candidate has previously collaborated with the team and is familiar with its culture.

Scientific Programmer

Areas of technical competence include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing algorithms for image data processing
  • Scientific/numeric Python ecosystem including NumPy, Jupyter notebooks, Astropy
  • Astronomical observing and development of data reduction pipelines
  • Virtual observatory protocols such as TAP, SIA
  • Data-science relevant mathematical/statistic skills
  • Optical astronomy survey/database science
  • Improving software performance
  • Developing on/for commodity cloud architectures (eg AWS, OpenStack)
  • Advanced Python 3 programming skills including packaging code for external use, refactoring, etc.
  • Track record of open source contributions

Research time may be available for this position if aligned with the overall LSST areas of interest.

Science Data Analysis Specialist

Areas of technical activity include, but are not limited to:

  • Contributions to survey science, especially optical imaging surveys
  • Astronomical observing and data reduction experience, especially in optical wavelengths
  • Builder status (or equivalent) in a large astronomy or particle physics collaboration
  • QA of astronomical data and/or commissioning of astronomical instrumentation
  • Scientific/numeric Python ecosystem including NumPy, Jupyter notebooks, Astropy
  • Data-science relevant mathematical/statistic skills
  • Commissioning of astronomical instruments
  • Developing algorithms for image data processing
  • Programming within astronomical data reduction pipeline frameworks
  • C++ programming
  • Track record of open source contributions

Research time may be available for this position if aligned with the overall LSST areas of interest.

DevOps Engineer

Areas of technical activity include, but are not limited to:

  • Deployment technologies such as containers (eg Docker), orchestration (eg kubernetes), automated configuration (eg puppet)
  • Build/test/deploy toolchains such as continuous integration, test harnesses, dependency management, release engineering)
  • Developing and deploying services on commodity cloud architectures (eg AWS, OpenStack)
  • Log collection, analysis and monitoring technologies (eg ELK or similar stacks)
  • Advanced Python 3 programming skills including packaging code for external use, refactoring, etc.
  • Web-based front-end/visualization skills and toolchains (eg bokeh, react.js)
  • Computational performance metrics and benchmarks
  • Track record of open source contributions

All positions require some level of programming competence and enjoying solving problems through code, along with superb written communication and documentation skills.

Familiarity with Python programming is a requirement for ALL the positions; while SQuaRE does server-side development in a number of languages depending on the appropriate stack, the core science stack is written in Python and C++ and almost all the scientist-facing code is in Python.  

Successful applicants will have extensive experience in ~ 2-3 of the technical areas listed for each position; strong candidates in 4+ areas.

These positions are open until filled; to maximize your chance of being considered, please complete your online application by August 1, 2016.

Depending on the depth of the applicant pools, we may fill multiple positions in one or more of the technical areas, rather than one position in each area.

Compensation will be offered in line with experience and track record and is competitive for the field and region. Benefits provided through AURA employment include health coverage, paid time off (24 days of vacation per year, sick time and holidays) and retirement benefits.

Please list 3 professional references in your application. Please attach a statement of professional interests or cover letter that includes an indication of which position(s) you're applying for and CV or resume (PDF Files preferred) to your application. Please include in your application a pointer to code that you have written relevant to the position you are applying for; in the event where no code can be made available publicly, you will be asked to submit code samples if you advance in the application process. Please name any attachments with the following format: 16-0157LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. 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.
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