Head of the ALMA Regional Centre

Job Summary

Tenure and Tenure-track Faculty Positions
European Southern Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Owing to an internal reorganisation and the resulting strengthening of the ESO ALMA Support Centre Division (EASC) in the Directorate of Operations at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, we are looking to fill the position of Head of the ALMA Regional Centre.

The ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) Department of the EASC is a central link between ESO and the ESO ALMA user community and provides services to the ALMA observatory. The ARC supports the ESO users and the ALMA Observatory in coordination with the ARCs in the other ALMA partner regions. Besides the support of ALMA users, the ESO ARC provides other important services for the development and operation of ALMA, including software development and testing, Call for Proposals and observation preparations, participation in observing shifts at the ALMA observatory, data quality assurance (QA2), optimization of capabilities and work on calibrator database data. ALMA is also currently undergoing an ambitious upgrade - the Wideband Sensitivity Upgrade (WSU) - and the ARC is heavily involved in the planning and investigations needed to transition to WSU Operations at around the end of the decade.

The ARC in ESO's member states is organised as a coordinated network of nodes distributed across Europe. The central ARC is located at ESO Headquarters in Garching and carries the responsibility for all the core ARC activities as well as the coordination of the additional science support provided by the regional nodes and centres of expertise. ARC nodes have been set up in Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Sweden.

As we celebrate 10 years since the inauguration of ALMA we are looking for the next Head of the European ARC to build upon our catalogue of success. In this exciting role you will not only work with staff at ESO but also with colleagues in the other parts of our ARC network. You will also interact with the Science Operations teams in Chile, East Asia and North America.

You will be the interface between the community and Science Operations and with the Head of the ESO ALMA Support Centre you will drive ALMA forward determining what it will do and how it will interact with its users. Leading the ARC in Europe you will grow your team and motivate them to help build on the impressive results we have achieved so far.

In summary you will be the face of ALMA Science Operations in Europe and be an active member of the ALMA global middle management team. With significant challenges in 2024 and beyond you will also play an integral role in the planning for the WSU and helping to drive the strategy for the ESO ALMA Support Centre Division. You will be key in ALMA's continuing success.

The position is in the ESO Faculty and up to 50% of your time will be spent in scientific research. You must have a strong research profile in radio and/or millimetre astronomy. As a member of the ESO Faculty, you will be given the opportunity to interact with other researchers at ESO and contribute to ESO's diverse scientific life. You must be able to show us your scientific drive and vision to conduct high-impact research to be considered for this post.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

Manage the ARC department of the EASC Division;

Manage the ARC department budget;

Manage ESO ARC staff and oversee all ESO ARC activities with a deputy appointed by the Head;

Keep the oversight and responsibility of the ARC node activities in Europe, maintain the strategic view of the evolution of the ARC network and lead the changes, together with the ARC network coordinator;

Liaise with the Heads of ALMA computing, engineering and development at ESO and ALMA stakeholders both within and external to ESO as required;

Report on the ESO share of ALMA Operations, ESO ARC and European ARC network activities at the ESO Users Committee (UC), the ALMA European Science Advisory Committee (ESAC), and the Scientific Technical Committee (STC);

Participate in and contribute to EASC division management meetings, playing an integral role in development of division strategy;

Coordinate activities of ESO fellows with duties in the ARC;

Attend, or delegate within the ARC Department, ALMA science operations meetings (including the ALMA Integrated Science Operations Team), Joint Operations meetings and subsystem scientists' meetings when required;

Contribute to the ESO Quarterly Report, Annual Report, ALMA highlights and other reports as needed;

Maintain a proactive overview of and involvement in the ARC website and ESO ARC Newsletters;

Availability and willingness to travel to the JAO in Chile is required, as well as to the ALMA Partner sites in East Asia and North America.

Reports to:

Head of the ESO ALMA Support Centre (EASC) Division.

Key Competences and Experience:

Essential Experience

At least 6 years of experience post PhD;

Experience in science operations (and particularly a radio interferometer) or equivalent;

Experience with, and positive attitude towards, providing user support and services;

Experience with the coordination and management of a geographically distributed teams;

Familiarity with ALMA or similar instruments on a technical and operational level.


Motivating teams and leading with strategic vision;

Excellent and demonstrable interpersonal and cross-disciplinary communication skills with a strong ability to work both within and simultaneously lead a team;

In-depth understanding of ALMA operations and a distributed network of data reduction or knowledge of operations of other large astronomical facilities;

Ability to build and maintain effective links with peers within ESO, ALMA and with the user community;

Self-driven, critical thinker with the capacity to provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communications, reports and specifications and with excellent problem-solving skills;

Ability to make and justify decisions under operational stress, and proactively act and/or react quickly when confronted with, or in anticipation of, unexpected situations or challenges;

Ability to design and implement departmental procedures and workflows;

Result-oriented, delivering prompt and efficient results on multiple concurrent projects/tasks under tight deadlines or restrictions;

Negotiation and influencing skills,

Political intelligence and sound diplomatic skills;

Empathy, emotional intelligence.

Desirable competences and experience

Experience of working in a large, multi-cultural astronomical observatory.


Essential educational level:

PhD in Astronomy/Astrophysics.

Experience/Qualifications which would be an asset.

Management/leadership training certification.

Language skills:

The position requires a full working level of English (oral and written).

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and support to place your child/children in daycare.

Our Salary Structure

ESO's salary structure is based upon a range of career paths which reflect the nature and level of our jobs. Each career path is made up of two or three grades which are used to further reflect experience.

Please follow this attached link for more details https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/salary-structure/

ESO aims to support members of personnel in maintaining a good work-life balance (https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/#work-life-balance) between their professional and private life. ESO is also committed to offering family-friendly support (https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/#family-friendly-support), creating a work environment and policies which allow staff to balance their professional and private responsibilities through flexible and mobile working arrangements and financial support for families.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment (https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/). Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Duty Station:

Your duty Station will be Garching near Munich, Germany with business trips to the ALMA Observatory in Chile as necessary.

You may also be required to travel to the ALMA Partner sites in East Asia and North America.

Career Path:

V (which comprises three grades).


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit http://www.eso.org for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at http://jobs.eso.org/. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter, CV containing a publication list and a research statement. Also required are the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a reference letter. Referees will be automatically invited to submit their letter, however, applicants are strongly advised to trigger these invitations (using the web application form) well in advance of the application deadline.

Deadline for applications is 30 March 2024.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Feb 03
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 30
Reference Code