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Job Details

Requisition Number 16-0343
Post Date 12/2/2016
Title Assistant Scientist
City Boulder
State CO

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 and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation.

The National Solar Observatory (NSO) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) Project has an immediate opening for an Assistant Scientist. The DKIST is under construction on Maui, Hawaii on the summit of Haleakala. Organizationally, staff are located at the National Solar Observatory headquarters, housed on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado, co-located with the National Optical Astronomy Observatories at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and in offices in Maui.

The Assistant Scientist will directly support the Instrument Systems Scientist and the Operations Scientist in their efforts to commission DKIST systems and prepare for DKIST operations. This support scientist position will participate in the planning and execution of integration, test and commission activities. Systems to be supported during IT&C include instruments and software systems, adaptive optics, telescope and observatory control systems, and operations tools. During the construction phase essential activities to be supported include laboratory acceptance testing, site integration testing, commissioning, operations planning, and training of operators. These tasks will be accomplished in close collaboration with the sub-system Lead Engineers, Scientists and other Systems Engineers. The position reports to the DKIST Director or his designee. The position is located in Boulder, CO and is for duration of four (4) years. Frequent travel between Boulder, Maui and Tucson will be required. Contingent on funding NSO intends to extend this position to the operations phase of DKIST. Relocation to Maui, HI would be required at that time. During operations the position supports all aspects of summit science operations, including service observing.

Essential Functions:

  • Develop a thorough working knowledge of the specifications, requirements and design of all major DKIST systems, including instrumentation and observatory control systems.
  • Ensure traceability from the Science Requirements through systems level requirements and into sub-system requirements. Identify any omissions or unverifiable requirements.
  • Identify potential science performance issues and advocate corrective action solutions and/or requests for waiver.
  • Review specification documents and interface control documents and verify conformance.
  • Develop acceptance-test plans to ensure verification of system requirements.
  • Participate in execution of test plans.
  • Review and refine instrument maintenance and operational manuals.
  • Work with project staff and instrument suppliers to develop and implement IT&C plans.
  • Support IT&C activities on site to ensure that the facility meet requirements. Diagnose problems and develop solutions to non-compliance areas.
  • Perform other tasks as directed by supervisor.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Knowledge/Abilities:

  • PhD degree in physics, astronomy or other relevant field
  • 5 years experience with testing and commissioning of instrument systems
  • 5 years experience with support of telescope operations, including experience with queue observing
  • Knowledge of solar physics instrumentation
  • Familiarity with solar physics observatories and observing practices.
  • Experience in verification of engineering requirements and interfaces and dealing with nonconformance.
  • Ability to resolve technical problems by application of general engineering, scientific, or mathematical techniques.
  • Good organizational skills and good written and verbal communication skills.

Desirable Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Experience and interest in DKIST related observational research and science analysis
  • Experience with systems engineering processes

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.
  • Must possess sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) grasp, push, pull, turn or otherwise manipulate tools and mechanisms; b) push, shove, pull or otherwise safely and efficiently manipulate tools or mechanisms; c) lift, hold, maneuver, objects of 50 lbs or more; d) maintain balance while performing work; e) remove parts, systems, tools of 50 lbs or more.
  • The position will be based in Maui, working at the Haleakala (DKIST) facility.
  • Ability to work at 10,000’ elevation, sometimes during inclement weather, is required.
  • There will be occasional working at height utilizing fall protection equipment, ladders and scaffolding.
  • Frequent travel to/from the mainland US to the Hawaiian Islands will be necessary.

Please submit CV, references, statement of research interests to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: 16-0343LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

NSO will begin reviewing applications the week of Jan 16th, 2017 and will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. Please be sure to submit a completed application along with supporting documents by no later than Monday, January 16th 2017 to be considered in the first review.

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.

  • 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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