Scientific Staff Positions, Astronomer/Scientist Tracks

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) invites applications for one or more scientific staff positions based at Gemini Observatory in La Serena, Chile. The successful candidates will conduct independent astronomical research and support the scientific operations of Gemini South. The positions could be on either the Scientist (emphasis on service roles with 20% time for independent research) or Astronomer (up to 50% time for independent research) tracks. Applications from candidates at all career stages will be considered. 

NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center that operates as a matrix organization with approximately 400 employees providing services across a range of programs: Gemini Observatory, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, Mid-Scale Observatory (Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory and Kitt Peak National Observatory), and the Community Science and Data Center.

Staff on the Astronomer track are expected to carry out a vigorous astronomical research program commensurate with attaining tenure at a major university. Those appointed to the “scientist” track are also expected to engage in forefront research projects; their contributions may be over a wide range of areas involving participation in and enabling research in astronomy/astrophysics, planetary science, or a related field, including technical and/or educational areas that support the broader goals of NOIRLab.

Candidates for these positions at Gemini South should be broadly interested in observatory support, including calibration and testing of astronomical instruments, preparing nightly observing plans, commissioning of new instruments and capabilities, and executing queue-based observations for astronomers in the international Gemini community. The successful candidate will also assist users in defining their observing programs, introduce visiting observers to the telescope and instruments, and develop documentation for software and astronomical equipment as needed. Research in Time Domain Astronomy, wide-field AO imaging, and/or high-resolution optical and near-infrared spectroscopy would be especially well aligned with the capabilities at Gemini South. 

While supporting the scientific operations of Gemini South, the successful candidates will be part of a “faculty” of more than 70 research scientists and astronomers at NOIRLab engaged in a wide range of astronomical and planetary research at our sites in Arizona, Hawai’i, and Chile. The NOIRLab research staff will play key roles in NOIRLab’s response to the recommendations related to ground-based OIR astronomy in the Astro2020 Decadal Survey report Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s.

Gemini Observatory and NOIRLab recognize the excellence that diversity brings to our research, operations, and community support. We continually seek to broaden participation on our staff and strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented groups to apply. All NOIRLab staff are funded to spend up to 3% of their time on DEI activities of their own initiative or as part of existing NOIRLab programs. 


Minimum Requirements:  PhD in Astronomy, Physics, Planetary Science, or a closely related field, and at least two years of research experience post-PhD.  Fluency in English is required; bilingual capability in Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Korean is an asset.


Starting salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid vacation leave, parental leave, home leave for expatriates in Chile, and retirement contributions.

  • Our benefits at:

AURA offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all.

 AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at


To apply, please submit: (1) a cover letter describing your interest in the position and related experience, including any specific support interests; (2) a curriculum vitae or résumé with a bibliography; and (3) a statement summarizing your most important research contributions and proposed program of research at NOIRLab.  Please limit the research statement to 3 pages (plus references), and submit all documents as PDF files, named with the following format: Lastname_Docname.pdf (where Docname is CoverLetter, CV or Resume, or Statement).  Please also append a list of 3 professional references, with contact information, to your Cover Letter.  References will be contacted at a later stage in the recruitment.

Applications must be submitted online at the URL given below.  For full consideration, applications should be received by October 31, 2022.

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons.  All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment.  Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed. 

This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule).  Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all, with most staff working virtually from home during the COVID-19 crisis through Spring 2022. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape and offers of employment can be extended and new hires will onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in their base job location within a limited time from their start date.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2022 Sep 20
Application Deadline
2022 Nov 01
Reference Code