Staff Scientist

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

IPAC, in the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech, provides science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to enhance discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground.  IPAC invites applications for a science staff position from highly qualified individuals for a full-time position to work with the RAPID team at IPAC.

RAPID (Roman Alerts Promptly from Image Differencing) is a selected Project Infrastructure Team (PIT) with the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Roman is a NASA observatory designed to address key questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics. It is currently slated for launch in late 2026. IPAC implements the Roman Science Support Center. The role of the PITs is to partner with the Roman Science Centers to provide comprehensive and sustained support of the Roman project and the science community for research areas that require long-term scientific infrastructure development.

RAPID will work with the Roman project to provide: 1) rapid image-differencing of every new Roman image from a reference image; 2) prompt public alert streams of all Roman transient and variable candidates; 3) source-match light curve files of photometry for every identified Roman candidate; and 4) forced-photometry service for Roman photometric history at any observed location. The goal is to have the RAPID pipeline fully tested and operational by Roman launch.

For more details about RAPID, see:

Essential Job Duties

As an IPAC scientist on the RAPID team, you will:

  • Contribute to project coordination.
  • Interface with the Roman project scientist’s office, the Roman Science Support Center at IPAC, the Roman Science Operations Center at STScI, and the general community with interests in time-domain science.
  • Help solicit from the community light curve datasets over a broad range of transient and variable sources, for injection into simulated images.
  • Assist with organizing community-wide workshops on RAPID.
  • Assist with development and validation of the RAPID pipeline, specifically, machine-learning algorithms.
  • Conduct independent research.

Basic Qualifications

If you have the following in your background, then we want to hear about your interest in joining our team:

  • PhD degree in astronomy, physics, or a closely related field.
  • Two years of post-PhD experience.
  • Experience in time-domain astronomy from high data-rate surveys.
  • Ability to work productively in a diverse and inclusive team environment. 

Preferred Qualifications 

These are a set of skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of the position. The following attributes would make you a better fit for this position, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you.

  • Good communication and organizational skills.
  • Experience with infrared and space-based observations and data.
  • Interest in observations with and data from Roman for future research.
  • Prior experience with pipeline development and processing.
  • Prior experience with difference imaging and time-domain alerts.
  • Prior experience with machine-learning algorithms and results.

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae and Bibliography
  • Planned Research Statement
  • Names and contact information for 3 professional references

We will start considering applications on October 6, until the position is filled. While our preferred start date is late 2023, we are open to negotiation on start date with the selected candidate. Applications will be accepted via the Caltech website only

Hiring Range

$66,600 - $103,300 Per Year

The salary of the finalist(s) selected for this role will be set based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, internal equity, experience, education, specialty and training.

As one of the largest employers in Pasadena, CA, Caltech is committed to providing comprehensive benefits to eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Our benefits package includes competitive compensation, health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement savings plans, generous paid time off (vacation, holidays, sick time, parental leave, bereavement, etc.), tuition reimbursement, and more. Non-benefit eligible employees will have access to some benefits such as onsite counseling and sick time. Learn more about our benefits and staff perks

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at [email protected]

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Sep 01
Application Deadline
2023 Oct 06