Far Horizons Data Science Fellow

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Adler Planetarium
Science, Engagement and Visualization
Number of Positions Available
3 Years
Work Arrangement
In-Person Location(s)

Chicago, IL
United States

Job Description

The Adler Planetarium is seeking candidates for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the field of Data Science, with an emphasis on Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis. The Postdoctoral Fellow will carry out independent research analyzing light pollution image data collected by the Adler’s Far Horizons research program.

The Far Horizons program is currently doing field work using two main instrument sets designed and built at the Adler: the GONet camera system, which collects all-sky nighttime environment data in the field, and the NITELite system, which is a high altitude balloon-borne camera system that collects regional scale night-time images from the stratosphere.

These instruments are used to characterize and quantify the effect of nighttime light on the environment. Recent results have included a large-scale transect experiment across 140 km to map the extended skyglow of Chicago. Data collected from NITELite missions over Indianapolis are being used to characterize light emission by land use as well as exploring the effects of light at night on urban ecological systems. Recent examples of research partnerships include the National Park Service, UCLA, Butler University and the European Space Agency funded NEOMI project.

In collaboration with Far Horizons staff and volunteers, the Postdoctoral Fellow will:

  • Pursue an independent light pollution research program. 
  • Develop and maintain data pipelines to process raw images from the NITELite and GONet systems into a calibrated, georeferenced, dataset.
  • Create tools to generate data products of interest from the NITELite and GONet datasets, such as
    • calibrated image mosaics for geospatial analysis
    • time-dependent features of light emission from image data
  • Apply advanced data analysis techniques (e.g., machine learning, image processing,, etc.) where relevant to research goals
  • Collaborate with and learn from Far Horizons DevOps volunteers to ensure the toolset meets industry standards (inc. containerization, AWS deployments, etc.)
  • Mentor undergraduate interns and high-school students in research*
  • Assist Teen Program experts in the development of Far Horizons student-facing programs*

Although preferred, prior experience in the field of light pollution research is not required. 

The Postdoctoral Fellow responsibilities will be divided approximately 70% to research and 30% to outreach (starred items). Through the Adler’s Far Horizons program, we engage teens, undergraduate students, and adults in high-altitude balloon experiments, engineering, design, research, and complex image processing and data analysis. Our teens recently helped establish the world’s largest Urban Night Sky Place through a partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. 

Candidates should have a doctorate in a technical field such as data science, astronomy, physics, programming, GIS, remote sensing etc. with special  focus on prior experience in independent research and image analysis.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship is for three years starting September 2024, though open to an earlier start.


Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Type
Compensation Range
$60,000USD to $70,000USD
Included Benefits

Competitive Health Coverage

  • Medical, Dental, & Vision insurance
  • Healthcare, Dependent Care & Commuter flexible spending accounts
  • Adler Paid Short-Term Disability insurance

Retirement Savings Plan

  • 403B plan with Adler match
  • Adler match is 100% vested immediately
  • Eligible to enroll as of date of hire  

Work-Life Balance

  • 35 hour workweek
  • 3 sick days as of date of hire (can accrue up to 6.5 days per year)
  • 7 Adler paid holidays
  • 4 Personal Holidays (Prorated for new hires starting after January 1st)
  • Eligible to accrue up to 15 vacation days per year to start
  • Flexible work arrangements

Network of Support through our expanded EAP program

  • Monthly webinars, workshops and self-care content
  • Life and Career Coaching
  • Specialized Coaching Programs
  • Therapy with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Discounted Onsite Parking Passes

Free Entrance to Chicago area museums and cultural institutions


Application Details

Application Instructions
Applications should include a cover letter (stating your interest in and relevant experience/skills for the position), a CV (including a list of publications with the most important publications indicated with an asterisk), a 1) two-page statement describing your research accomplishments and what interests you in the Far Horizons light pollution data and research opportunities and 2) a one-page statement describing the way you would approach mentoring students in this role based on your own experiences as a mentor and/or mentee. Also please arrange for at least three letters of recommendation to be sent to [email protected].
All questions should be sent by email to [email protected]. Applications received by June 15, 2024 will receive full consideration. Later applications will be considered until the position is filled.

To apply go to https://www.adlerplanetarium.org/career-opportunities/ and click on "Far Horizons Data Science Postdoctoral Fellow"
The Adler Planetarium is dedicated to complying with its obligations as an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religious creed, national origin, physical or mental disability, protected Veteran status, age, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.
If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the employment process, please contact Jenean Featherson by email at [email protected] and let us know the nature of your request and your contact information. Requests for accommodation will be considered on a case by case basis.

Publication Start Date
2024 May 02
Application Deadline
2024 Jun 15
Reference Code
Requisition ID: 1381


Ken Walczak