Browse Open Jobs | Search Open Jobs | Edit Your Profile | View Submitted Applications

Job Details

Requisition Number 17-0168
Post Date 8/16/2017
Title Data Management Scientist
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.

LSST is a planned, large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope that will survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions, ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, to examining the nature of dark energy. The project includes an 8-meter class wide field telescope, a 3.2 gigapixel camera with 2-second readout, and a state-of-the-art petascale data management system to process, archive, and distribute the 15 TB of data produced every night. LSST Construction began in July 2014, funded by the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. Once completed in 2021, the LSST will be the largest and most modern optical survey project ever built.

The LSST Data Management (DM) system will be constructed by a team of 65+ members residing at partner institutions across the United States and Chile. It will include a data processing system spanning two continents, new state-of-the-art image processing algorithms, petascale computing clusters with tens of thousands of cores, large distributed databases, and next-generation analysis toolkits, among others. All LSST DM code is free software (GPL v3), written in modern Python and C++.

LSST is soliciting applications for the position of Lead LSST Data Management Scientist (project title of LSST DM Subsystem Scientist DMSS), within the LSST Leadership Team at the LSST Project Office (Headquarters) in Tucson, AZ. The DM Subsystem Scientist co-leads with the DM Project Manager the LSST Data Management (DM) subsystem, a $146M subsystem of the LSST. They lead the definition and understanding of the deliverables of the LSST Data Management System – such as data products, software, and services – needed to enable LSST science (“Product Owner”, in Agile terminology). They work with the LSST Project Manager to ensure DM deliverables are built to specification, and scientifically validate their readiness for commissioning and operations. We are looking for a scientist with a broad interest and experience in astronomical surveys, algorithms, and software to ensure we develop the data processing system which will enable the community to deliver the discoveries that LSST data promise .

Some specific responsibilities include:

  • Communicates with DM science stakeholders (LSST Project Scientist and Team, advisory bodies, the science community) to understand their needs and identifies aspects to be satisfied by the DM Subsystem.
  • Develops, maintains, and articulates the vision of DM products and services responsive to stakeholder needs.
  • Works with the LSST Project Scientist to communicate the DM System vision to DM stakeholders. Works with the DM Project Manager to communicate and articulate the DM System vision and requirements to the DM construction team.
  • Regularly monitors DM construction team progress and provides feedback to the DM Project Manager to ensure the continual understanding of and adherence to the DM vision, requirements, and priorities.
  • Develops and/or evaluates proposed changes to DM deliverables driven by schedule, budget, or other constraints.
  • Provides advice to the DM Project Manager on science-driven prioritization of construction activities.
  • Validates the science quality of DM deliverables and the capability of all elements of the DM System to achieve LSST science goals.
  • Serves as Data Management Liaison as requested by LSST Science Collaborations
  • Provides safe, effective, efficient operations in a respectful work environment.

At this stage of construction, the LSST DM deliverables have been defined and are in the process of being built. Science validation and preparation for subsystem integration and commissioning are expected to be the focus of DM Subsystem Science going forward. The DM Subsystem Scientist functionally reports to the LSST Project Scientist. They direct the work of the DM Subsystem Science staff, and chair the DM System Science Team. They are an ex-officio member of the Project Science Team and the LSST Change Control Board.

There is a strong preference for relocation to Tucson. If a single candidate cannot be found we may consider two candidates with one being a verification/validation focused scientist based in Tucson and the other a part time Science Lead not necessarily in Tucson.


  • PhD in astronomy
  • Intimate knowledge of astronomical techniques and software
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • An aptitude for detail-oriented work;
  • Ability to manage their own and other's work
  • Ability to work effectively with minimal direction and document and give direction to others
  • Familiarity with verification and validation of astronomy algorithms and pipelines.

The ideal candidate will furthermore:

  • have a track record of working in large geographically distributed projects;
  • have worked in large scientific projects;
  • have experience with large survey science;
  • experience with astronomical observatory operations;
  • familiarity with python and its ecosystem (e.g. Jupyter Notebooks);
  • have experience of Jira
  • have LaTex expertise

Starting salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Please list 3 professional references in your application. Please attach a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, list of publications, and a brief statement of relevant experience (PDF Files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: 17-0168LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

Application reviews will begin immediately, and continue through September 30, 2017 or until the position is filled.

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)
Apply On-line
Send This Job to a Friend