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Requisition Number 16-0202
Post Date 7/21/2016
Title Instrumentation, Adaptive Optics and Development Department Heads
City Hilo, Hawaii or La Serena, Chile
Description Gemini Observatory is looking to fill two Department Head positions to manage its instrumentation, adaptive optics, telescope technology, and project management/systems engineering efforts within its Development Division. We can fill these positions in a variety of ways and are looking for the best qualified people to join our organization. We are seeking people with skills and experience in team management, project management and systems engineering development, instrumentation program leadership, and adaptive optics program leadership. Each Department Head will manage a professional staff of ~8 FTEs that work on a variety of development projects within the Observatory including upgrades of our existing instruments and Adaptive Optics (AO) facilities and our new facility instruments (GHOST and Gen 4#3). Successful applicants will have the opportunity to lead our Development program into the future with a renewed focus on maximizing opportunities, standardizing our processes, and responding to our user needs and governance directives.

The Instrumentation or Project Support Department (PSD) Head will manage our staff of Project Managers, Systems Engineers, and Technical Support Associates. These staff serve as the core management team for our Development projects. The PSD Head can be filled by either 1) a strong Project Manager and / or Systems Engineer wanting to help the Observatory improve and standardize its program management processes and abilities while developing the skills of the Department staff, or 2) a of Head of Instrumentation as an Instrumentalist/Astronomer with experience in managing projects and wanting to help develop Gemini’s Instrumentation program as a whole. This position could be filled at either our Gemini North or South base facilities.

The AO or Technology Development Department (TDD) Head manages our staff of AO Scientists, Telescope Scientists, and Detector Engineers. The TDD’s mission is to support internal and external development efforts for the observatory by investigating and implementing new technologies to improve our telescope, Adaptive Optics, and instrument systems. We are particularly looking for the TDD Head to lead the observatory’s state of the art AO program (including its innovative multi-conjugate AO system GeMS at Gemini South, and plans for upgrades to and a possible future replacement of the Altair AO system at Gemini North). A particularly experienced Head could also lead our Instrumentation program and work with the PSD Head for skilled staff to manage the Division’s projects. We prefer the TDD position to be located at our Gemini South base facility.

To receive full consideration, applicants MUST submit a cover letter with their application. The letter should specify which position is being applied for, outline the candidate’s relevant experience for the selected position, and describe the candidate’s interest in the position.


  • Undergraduate degree in astronomy, physics, engineering, or related technical field required.
  • Graduate degree in relevant field is required, however equivalent experience may substitute for an advanced degree.
  • Some formal management education and training required.
  • Five years of experience in managing technical groups and projects, preferably in an observatory or instrumentation development / AO environment.
  • Five years experience managing and developing staff.
  • Demonstrated experience in managing budgets and financial accounts.
  • Must be fluent in written and spoken English.
  • Spanish language skills desired.
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal) are essential to create and deliver clear and inspiring presentations and reports.
  • Must possess excellent interpersonal, task management, and general organizational skills.
  • Must possess good negotiation and leadership abilities.
  • Must have experience with work contract generation and management.
  • Must be able to support significant travel that might be required in order to interact on a regular basis with Gemini’s instrument teams and staff stationed at the Gemini sites (Chile and Hawaii).
  • Must be able to establish priorities, work independently, build and maintain high-performing teams, and proceed with objectives without supervision.
  • Must be able to recognize, handle, and resolve recurring problems.
  • Must be able to identify and develop plans to take advantage of opportunities for the Department.
  • Must be effective at problem resolution and contributing to planning and technical discussions.
  • Must be proficient with computer systems.
  • Must be able to work in a fluid environment, demonstrating flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances and environments.

TDD Head Requirements

  • Must have knowledge of telescope systems, optics, electronics, software and mechanical design principles, and technologies used in adaptive optics (like deformable mirrors, wavefront sensors).
  • Must have a strong publication record reflecting a history of contributions in the above areas.
  • Experience in design, building, testing, commissioning and operating instrumentation and/or AO facilities is preferred.

PSD Head Requirements

  • Five years experience applying project management and/or systems engineering principles to technical projects, preferably in an observational astronomy or instrumentation development environment.
  • Project management and/or systems engineering certification preferred.
  • Must have an understanding of a broad range of astronomy science issues and terminology, particularly those related to astronomy instrumentation and observatory operations.
  • Knowledge of telescope systems, optics, electronics, software and mechanical design principles, and technologies used in astronomical instrumentation and operations preferable.
  • Must have knowledge of project management and systems engineering best practices and procedures as applied in a multidisciplinary observatory environment.
  • Must be able to use a personal computer and various software applications (including,

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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