Staff Scientist

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement
See Job Description

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

IPAC, in the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech, invites applications for a Scientist to serve as lead for the Science Affairs team at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI). As a part of IPAC, the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute ( provides community support, science operations, analysis tools and archive services related to the discovery and characterization of planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets) using data from observatories in space and on the ground.

The NExScI science affairs team directly interacts with the exoplanet research community as well as the general astronomical community and serves as an important link between the exoplanet research community and NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program. The NExScI Science Affairs team is responsible for the management, in partnership with W. M. Keck Observatory, of the NASA Keck time, the management of the Sagan (exoplanet) portion of the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program, and the development and organization of NExScI-hosted scientific events. The Sagan Summer Workshop has been running for almost 25 years and now attracts more than 1400 participants from across the world. NExScI supports NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program at community conferences including the annual AAS and DPS meetings. NExScI is hiring a full-time scientist to lead the Science Affairs team. The Science Affairs lead will be an integral member of NExScI and contribute to the scientific direction of the science center, particularly from the point of view of community engagement.

Essential Job Duties

Your duties will include (but may not be limited to):

  • Oversee the administration of NASA’s scientific use of the two 10-meter W. M. Keck Telescopes atop Maunakea.
  • Oversee the scientific and logistical development, planning, and implementation of workshops and conferences hosted and supported by NExScI, including the annual fully hybrid Sagan Summer Workshop.
  • Co-Lead the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) in coordination with Space Telescope Science Institute and the Chandra X-ray Center as the Sagan Program lead.
  • Represent NExScI at American Astronomical Society (AAS), Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS), and other exoplanet-related scientific conferences.
  • Oversee NExScI’s engagement with the scientific community about opportunities associated with NExScI and other ExEP programs.
  • Oversee NExScI’s coordination with NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program on science community events including new research opportunities.
  • Leadership and management of the NExScI Science Affairs team.
  • Conduct independent scientific research.

Basic Qualifications

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

  • At least 5 years of experience after PhD in astronomy, planetary science, or a related discipline.
  • Experience with observational astronomy.
  • Experience organizing scientific conferences and/or meetings.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent organization skills and the ability to multi-task.

Preferred Qualifications

Beyond these basic qualifications, there are skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of the Science Affairs Lead Scientist. The following might give you a head-start here, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you:

  • Demonstrated leadership ability to work with scientists, administrative staff, and the science community.
  • Personal program of astronomical research with a preference for exoplanet science.
  •  Experience managing work groups.
  • Ability to work efficiently as part of a highly integrated team.
  • Demonstrated familiarity with allocation of observing time and operations of major telescope facilities (ground and/or space).
  • Demonstrated experience administering scientific proposal calls and facilitating workshops.

Required Documents

  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Cover Letter.
  • Names and contact information for 3 professional references.
  • Submit application via Caltech website
  • Complete applications submitted by June 14, 2024 will receive full consideration, but review of applications will continue until a suitable candidate has been identified.

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and positive relationships. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. 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.

Hiring Range

$90,000 - $145,000 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]

Compensation and Benefits


Application Details

Application Instructions
Submit application through the Caltech website
Publication Start Date
2024 May 15
Application Deadline
2024 Jun 14