Operations Project Scientist

Job Summary

Science Management
Harvard University
Harvard College Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Job Summary

The Harvard Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) group invites applications for a scientist position to pursue research related to conducting Cosmic Microwave Background measurements with the BICEP Array telescopes and the CMB Stage 4 experiment. The multi-institutional BICEP program produces extremely deep maps of polarization of the CMB at multiple frequencies from the South Pole, measuring gravitational lensing and galactic foregrounds and placing leading constraints on primordial gravitational waves. Building on the ongoing BICEP Array project, the program will continue to produce maps with groundbreaking sensitivity, while validating technologies and methodologies essential to both Stage 3 and Stage 4 CMB science goals.


A major focus of the Harvard CMB group is remote observatory management. Practices developed over multiple decades of remote operation at the South Pole have enabled the BICEP program to achieve unmatched annual survey efficiencies for CMB observations, now used for CMB-S4 forecasting analyses. Besides the BICEP/Keck telescopes at the South Pole, heritage in observatory operations at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian includes the Submillimeter Array on Mauna Kea, the Event Horizon Telescope as well as the Chandra Operations Center.

The Operations Project Scientist will independently coordinate and execute the range of complex research activities essential to remote operation of our observatories, including planning and optimizing our surveys and seasonal on-site activities, managing data flow and documentation, designing analysis algorithms, and providing training and guidance to researchers.  The successful candidate will also participate in science analyses in support of our current observations and will play a leading role in developing operations expertise to meet the needs of next-generation millimeter-wave observatories such as CMB-S4.

Position Description

  • Oversee postdocs and students in work related to operations, including coordination of regular data quality monitoring and reporting
  • Independently develops, designs, and conducts the range of complex research activities essential to remote operation of our observatories, including planning and optimizing our surveys and seasonal on-site activities, managing data flow and documentation, designing analysis algorithms, and providing training and guidance to researchers.  
  • Lead remote observatory monitoring and diagnostics efforts, including on-site and off-site telescope control code and monitoring systems.  
  • Optimize data management, including the flow of data from observatory sites to local repositories, and the reduction and simulation pipelines for this data on leading HPC infrastructure at Harvard and elsewhere.
  • Provide training and management for on-site staff at remote sites such as the South Pole, to advance knowledge of the equipment, instruments, methods, systems, and lab-specific safety protocols and best practices; serve as technical liaison
  • Independently designs and developments new techniques and makes recommendations to optimize procedures and workflows, and to improve documentation including training manuals, standard operating procedures, and reports, and data products, with the goal of increasing their utility for future operations, including CMB-S4.     
  • Coordinate instrumentation development.  
  • Deploy, install, maintain, and monitor state-of-the-art instrumentation associated with CMB telescopes and their operation.
  • Collaborates within and outside of own laboratory when representing our project with shared projects and agency stakeholders
  • Presents and co-presents results with Principle Investigator at meetings and/or conferences nationally and Internationally. 
  • Write and co-author scientific papers and other publications, especially on topics related to CMB survey performance, instrument characterization, optimization, and forecasting.  
  • Present work at professional meetings and conferences.
  • Advises on experimental design and applicability by assisting with the monitoring of laboratory safety compliance and ensure compliance with university policies, procedures, and applicable legal rules and regulations

Basic Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a scientific or engineering discipline and at least two years of relevant work experience.
  • A minimum of five years of relevant work experience or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Additional Qualifications and Skills
  • Ph.D. in physics, astrophysics, engineering, or related field before the anticipated start date is strongly preferred
  • Knowledge of scientific computing tools, including linux, Python, and Matlab.  Microsoft Office Suite, intermediate Excel skills
  • Excellent communication skills in the English language, both written and oral
  • Ability to perform highly complex experiments with high levels of reliability and accuracy within time constraints
  • Must possess excellent problem-solving skills
  • Detail-oriented

Physical Requirements

  • Lifting (up to approximately 50 pounds), pulling, bending, stairs, and other physical exertion including repetitive motions
  • Standing and/or sitting for extended periods

Working Conditions

  • May be exposed to extreme temperatures
  • The role requires long-duration travel (~2-3 months) to the South Pole (~10,000 feet altitude) to participate in field operations of the BICEP/Keck telescopes
  • This position will be based on campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Specific days and hours will be determined between you and your manager based on work needs.
  • May be required to work nights and weekends
  • May be exposed to toxic, radioactive, or carcinogenic materials including compressed gasses, acids, solvents, vacuum pump oils, and other chemicals

Additional Information

Applicants MUST submit the following documents in order to be reviewed:
1. Curriculum Vitae 
2. Cover Letter including the following all in ONE pdf:

  1. Statement describing past research, engineering and technical experience (2-3 pages, and should indicate in the statement which aspects of the role best match their experience and interests) 
  2. Publication List

3. Applications will be reviewed as they received, starting January 2024. The position will remain open until it is filled.

Upon request, applicants should be prepared to submit three Letters of Reference to the hiring team.  

  • We regret that Harvard University is unable to provide work authorization and/or visa sponsorship for this position. 
  • Pre-employment reference and background checks required. 
  • Harvard University is committed to supporting a healthy, sustainable learning and working environment. 
  • All formal written offers will be made by FAS Human Resources.
  • Grade 057

Compensation and Benefits

Included Benefits

We invite you to visit Harvard's Total Rewards website (https://hr.harvard.edu/totalrewards) to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.


Applications will be reviewed as they received, starting January 2024. The position will remain open until it is filled.

Compensation Notes

Salary Grade 057

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Dec 14
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 11