Visiting Research Scientist

Astronomy Group

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation's science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

NCSA seeks one or more Visiting Research Scientists to work in its program of servicing Optical Astronomy Surveys including processing and releasing DECam data for the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and other DECam observing programs, as well as image processing in preparation for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project.

This scientist will work within a group of scientists, research programmers and technologists from NCSA and other institutions to process, analyze and release the data as well as participate in the overall operations data processing systems and release infrastructure working with modern big data technologies such as containers, cloud computing, data intensive and data distributed software. In addition, this scientist will be involved in research activities in campus, related to astronomy, data mining, machine and deep learning and data science among others.

NCSA is committed to increasing the diversity of the campus community. Candidates who have experience working with a diverse range of faculty, staff, and students, and who can contribute to the climate of inclusivity are encouraged to apply.

Key responsibilities

  • Collaborate with scientists and research programmers from NCSA as well as other institutions to process and analyze the data and participate in the overall operations data processing systems.
  • Analyze and solve problems related to astronomical image processing at NCSA. Analysis requires an understanding of practical observational astronomy, computing systems and software.
  • Process observed, simulated, and test data to identify issues in the processing system and incorporate enhancements in the science codes and scientific quality controls in the context of the processing systems into the DES Data Management System.
  • Examine image processing problems for root cause.
  • Trend success and failure of production.
  • Provide and update the system's quality controls.
  • Configure science codes into pipelines.
  • Develop software for overall operation of the survey.
  • Make scientific and technical recommendations for the survey's processing system.
  • Conduct initial testing of new science software releases.
  • Participate in the preparation of data releases.
  • Collaborate with the astronomy software developers.
  • Develop documentation.
  • Participate in outreach activities which provide broader impact for the survey.
  • May supervise students for project work.

Required education and experience

  • Ph.D degree in astronomy, physics, computer science, engineering or other science-related field. Alternative degree fields will be considered if accompanied by equivalent experience (depending on nature and depth of experience as it relates to current NCSA business needs).
  • Two years' experience in one or more areas of practical optical astronomical image processing.

Preferred experience

  • Programming experience in astronomy-related software tools, Python, SQL and web experience.
  • Experience working in a scientific or research environment.
  • Experience in astronomical image processing and astronomical sky surveys.
  • Experience supervising others including task assignment and follow up to ensure completion of duties.

This is a regular academic professional position at NCSA and is an annually renewable, 12/12, 100%-time appointment with regular University benefits. Salary is commensurate with experience and start date will be as soon as possible after the close date of the search. Applicants must possess required education and experience by start date of position. Interviews and hires may occur before the closing date; however, all applications received by the closing date will receive full consideration.

To apply, please visit the Visiting Research Scientist posting (Job ID 100297) at where you can create your candidate profile, upload your cover letter and CV/resume. Contact information for three references must be included on the application. The close date for this position is January 31, 2019. For full consideration, candidates must complete the Hiretouch application process by the above date.

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

Illinois is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, status as a protected veteran, or status as a qualified individual with a disability. Illinois welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity. Visit

For further information regarding our application procedures, you may visit or email