Research Associate in Exoplanet Applications Data Science (Fixed Term)
University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy
United Kingdom

Research Associate in Exoplanet Applications Data Science (Fixed Term)

The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2022 in the first instance with good prospects for further extension subject to funding.


This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious Exoplanet Data Scientist to work within the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU) at the Institute of Astronomy, (IoA) in West Cambridge as part of the PLATO exoplanet analysis system development team. Starting Date: From 1st January 2019 or as early as possible thereafter.


PLATO is a European Space Agency mission that will detect and characterise a huge sample of exoplanets around bright stars. Within the PLATO Consortium, the IoA team are responsible for the development and operation of the Exoplanet Analysis System, which will enable the detection of the signatures of exoplanets from precision photometric light curves of the host stars.


Staff at CASU undertake a range of activities in wide field astronomy including: developing and operating pipeline processing and analysis systems for optical and near-infrared mosaic imaging surveys (e.g. VISTA, VST); spectroscopic surveys (e.g. WEAVE, 4MOST); together with other space mission projects including CHEOPS and Euclid; developing pipelines tailored for the analysis of various oncological imaging data related to the IMAXT/CRUK Grand Challenge project; managing a data processing and archive centre.


The successful candidate will work within CASU's PLATO software development team and be responsible for contributing to the development of novel scientific algorithms and applications in the areas of light curve analysis and data mining of the catalogues extracted as an output of the analysis of PLATO photometric light curve data. The role will also involve: contributions to the supporting computational infrastructure, liaising with the wider PLATO project team and external science users; contributing to the documentation and user manuals; and collaborating in the PLATO and exoplanet related research programs to optimise interpretation and use of such PLATO data.


Applicants will hold or be close to obtaining a Ph.D. in astronomy or a related field or have the equivalent relative experience in data science and have a strong computing and programming background. Candidates are expected to be familiar with the acquisition and reduction of data from astronomical facilities and with the use of database and web-based systems.


Previous experience in large-scale exoplanet transit and/or imaging surveys would be advantageous. Experience and practical knowledge of unix based operating systems Linux and/or MacOS and Python scripting languages is a requirement, while knowledge of SQL and database systems would be advantageous.


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.


Please ensure that you upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and covering letter and the names of three referees. For application queries please contact Joy McSharry (jpm(at)


Informal enquiries may be directed to Dr. Nicholas Walton (naw(at)


Please quote reference LG16794 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.


The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.


The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.


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