Scientist and Astronomer Track Positions at NSF's NOIRLab

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) invites applications for multiple staff positions to conduct scientific research and support the mission of NOIRLab. Candidates working in all areas of astronomy will be considered. Researchers with expertise in solar system science, large-scale surveys, exoplanets, time-domain astrophysics, high-resolution spectroscopy, data-intensive methods, technology development, and interest/experience in management are particularly encouraged to apply. The successful applicants will provide operational, developmental, and/or community support for one or more Programs operated by NOIRLab, including Rubin Observatory operations, Gemini Observatory, the Mid-Scale Observatories (KPNO and CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), as well as the effort to launch US community involvement through the US Extremely Large Telescope Project (USELTP).  

Staff positions on the “scientist track” are designed for people with strong interests in technical topics (e.g., instrumentation, data systems, pipelines, algorithms and analysis tools, telescope operations) and education and outreach. “Astronomer track” positions are designed for people with a strong background and interest in astronomical research. All staff members are expected to engage in research, broadly defined as creative, innovative, curiosity-driven work that has a measurable outcome, e.g., in a publication.  

Successful candidates will be part of a “faculty” of more than 75 research scientists and astronomers at NOIRLab that is engaged in a wide range of astronomical and planetary investigations. Those on the astronomer track are expected to carry out a vigorous research program leading to tenure in any area of astronomy/astrophysics or planetary science; they have 50% of their time to carry out independent research, with the remaining 50% spent on service activities. Staff on the scientist track engage in service activities that are strongly aligned with their interests; these activities both strengthen NOIRLab capabilities as well as enable innovations in community research. Staff on the scientist track spend 80% of their time on service activities and have 20% of their time for independent research. NOIRLab staff on both tracks are encouraged to pursue synergies between their service work and research goals, and to become active scientific stakeholders in the success of the telescopes, instruments, software, analysis tools, and data systems they develop and support. 

NOIRLab recognizes the excellence that diversity brings to our research, operations, and community support, and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).  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 choosing. 

NOIRLab operates the 8m Gemini telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon, Chile; the 4m Mayall telescope and the 3.5m WIYN telescopes at Kitt Peak in Arizona; as well as the 4m Blanco telescope on Cerro Tololo and the 4m SOAR telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile.  NOIRLab will be the lead operational partner of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory when it embarks on its Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), a 10-year survey of the available sky from Cerro Pachon in Chile. The CSDC at NOIRLab headquarters in Tucson provides archival data and tools for data-intensive astronomy. NOIRLab is also engaged in the development of plans for US community access to the TMT and GMT facilities through NOIRLab’s US Extremely Large Telescope Program (USELTP). Scientific staff take up service roles in connection with these facilities and services in support of NOIRLab deliverables. The assignments may change over time in response to both the evolving priorities of NOIRLab within the dynamic scientific landscape and the evolving personal aspirations of each staff member.

Applicants with expertise and interest in any area of NOIRLab service work are welcome, and will be given full consideration. Applications from candidates at all career stages will be considered. Successful candidates can expect to take up residence at one of the three NOIRLab sites: Hilo, Hawaii; La Serena, Chile; or Tucson, Arizona, as appropriate for their agreed upon service role at the time of hire. Appointments may be made on either the scientist or astronomer track (at the appropriate rank) depending on suitability.  


Minimum Requirements:  PhD in Astronomy, Physics, Planetary Science, or a closely related field, and at least two years of research experience post-PhD.

Successful candidates are expected to carry out a vigorous research program commensurate with the fraction of research time available for the respective track. We are interested in seeing your application and hearing about how your innovative, new, and different ideas can support NOIRLab’s mission and build a strong and diverse staff to take us forward. 


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.

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.

Details on benefits can be found at

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at NOIRLab.  Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, 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, 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 January 16, 2023.

We welcome questions about these positions and the application process. Please contact Kathy Vivas ([email protected]) or Abi Saha ([email protected]). 

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated including being up to date on boosters, 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.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2022 Dec 01
Application Deadline
2023 Jan 16
Reference Code