Research Scientist - Department of Astronomy (A1800092)

Champaign, IL
Feb 28, 2018
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Research Scientist

Department of Astronomy

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is seeking a research scientist to work on the software infrastructure for the upcoming SDSS-V survey (~2020-2025). The primary responsibilities include:
  • Development and maintenance of software reduction pipelines for the multi-object optical spectroscopy of SDSS-V
  • Develop codes that perform quick-look reduction at real-time during the nightly observations.
  • Develop codes to fully reduce and calibrate the optical spectroscopy taken by the survey.
  • Maintain and distribute the version-tagged reduction codes on the project archives. ,
  • Mountain operations (remote)- real-time monitoring of data acquisition from the telescope and perform quick-reduction quality checks to ensure the data is useful for science analysis. It also includes coordination with other components of the survey (e.g., the SDSS-V project contains multiple programs that carry out different science observations) on a daily basis.
  • Coordination among mountain observers, data and science teams (There are multiple programs that share the same observatory and telescope under the parent SDSS-V project. This Research Scientist will be in one of the three survey teams. All survey teams must coordinate in the overall planning of the survey, and also work together on the data reduction pipeline for different needs by the three teams. Eventually the reduced data will be streamed to team members to perform science analysis. Therefore this Research Scientist, along with other survey scientists from other components of the overall project, will serve as the point person to coordinate the needs of the science teams and the operations of the mountain observers, as well as the data teams that are responsible for developing the software pipelines.)
  • A fraction of time can be dedicated to science analysis with SDSS-V data, depending on the progress and status of the infrastructure work.
  • The bulk of the work will be performed at UIUC, with on-site training conducted at SDSS affiliated observatories and other institutions.

  • The research scientist will work closely with the SDSS science and infrastructure teams, including Prof. Yue Shen at UIUC. SDSS-V is the next generation of Sloan Digital Sky Surveys that will perform all-sky, multi-object and multi-epoch optical and near-IR spectroscopy, as well as optical integral field spectroscopy from the Apache Point Observatory (New Mexico) and the Las Campanas Observatory (Chile). It will survey Milky Way stars and distant quasars with multi-object optical and near-IR spectroscopy, and perform integral field spectroscopy of the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Following significant contributions to SDSS-V infrastructure (as expected) and related, the research scientist may become eligible for consideration for SDSS-V architect status, e.g., with broad co-authorship options on SDSS-V collaboration science papers.

    • A PhD in astronomy or related fields;
    • Experience in programing with Python and IDL;
    • Ability to program efficiently.
    • Basic understanding of astronomy and programming.
    • Proven ability to work in a team environment.
    • Excellent organizational skills.
    • Strong verbal and written communication skills

    • PhD in Astronomy
    • Previous experience with pipeline work for astronomical surveys and/or general optical spectroscopy.
    • Understanding of astronomical surveys, data reduction and science analysis.

    SALARY STATEMENT: Salary will be commensurate with experience.

    APPOINTMENT STATUS: The position is a full-time appointment (100%, 12-month). The initial appointment is for 3 years, subject to annual review and renewals, and with further possible extensions beyond the initial period depending on funding.

    PROPOSED STARTING DATE: Start date is negotiable, and may start as soon as possible after the offer is accepted.

    APPLICATION PROCEDURES: For full consideration, please create your candidate profile at and upload the following required documents: cover letter, a CV including a list of publications, a brief (1-2 pages) statement of past research experience, and names/contact information for three references (reference letters will be solicited after the initial round of review) by March 31, 2018.

    CONTACT: For further information regarding application procedures, you may contact Judy Whittington at For additional information regarding the position, please contact Yue Shen at

    The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

    The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit To learn more about the University's commitment to diversity, please visit

    College Name or Administrative Unit: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    Category: Academic Professional
    Title: Research Scientist - Department of Astronomy (A1800092)
    Open Date: 02/13/2018
    Organization Name: Astronomy


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