University of California Observatories: Adaptive Optics Postdoctoral Scholar University of California, Santa Cruz, Physical & Biological Sciences Division - University of California Observatories United States

University of California Observatories: Adaptive Optics Postdoctoral Scholar (Open until filled. Apply by 1/16/19)


  • Physical & Biological Sciences Division - University of California Observatories



Open date: December 17th, 2018
Next review date: January 16th, 2019

Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.
Final date: June 30th, 2019

Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


The University of California Observatories ( at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar. Under the direction of Dr. Philip Hinz, Director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics (, the Postdoctoral Scholar will assist with the development of the next generation of Adaptive Optics (AO) systems for astronomy, including components such as real-time control, deformable mirrors, wavefront sensors, and the development of adaptive secondary technology. This position will require the selected candidate to employ strong interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team environment, and bring innovative ideas to practice. UCSC strives to embrace diversity in all its forms, and to be an inclusive community that promotes an open, enlightened, and productive environment.


The Laboratory for Adaptive Optics (LAO) is a component of the University of California Observatories at UCSC. On campus, the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics consists of a large (2200 sq ft) research facility, which has experimental testbeds for AO systems and state-of-the-art equipment for characterizing optics, electro-optic components of AO systems, and lasers. Current research directions at the LAO include developing improved, state-of-the art wavefront sensing at visible and infrared wavelengths, development of large optics corrector elements that can be integrated into telescope optics, such as adaptive secondary mirrors, and development of economical, robust systems that leverage these technologies. The LAO performs simulations and testbed experiments to develop and evaluate system designs and establish wavefront error models. There is particular interest in developing algorithms for real-time control, for accurate system modeling, for operations scenarios, and for post-processing, PSF reconstruction, and data pipelines for AO corrected images and spectra. The LAO is also engaging in developing next-generation fiber lasers for AO, including development of fiber for high-power amplification for sodium guide stars, the transport of laser light via fiber, the modulation of pulses to optimize sodium guide star return, and the supporting sodium atomic physics modeling and simulation. The LAO is in the final stages of preparing a fiber laser for installation at Lick Observatory next year, where on-sky model validation experiments will be performed.


Researchers at UC Observatories can apply for observing time on the W. M. Keck Observatory's telescopes, and on those at Lick Observatory where the Shane 3-meter telescope is outfitted with the new "ShaneAO" laser guide star adaptive optics system. This AO system is actively used for astronomy and is also a research facility for AO development.


Applicants with any of the following qualifications are strongly encouraged to apply: Ph.D. research that involved instrumentation; experience with optics design; expertise in real-time control systems; and/or experience with electronics and computer languages/tools related to control system operation or simulation.


Postdoctoral Scholar


Starting at $54,000, commensurate with qualifications and experience. Annual salary rates must meet the minimum for an individual’s Experience Level, which is determined by the total number of months of postdoctoral service at any institution. See the current salary scales for Postdoctoral Titles at



  • Ph.D. (or equivalent foreign degree) in Astronomy, Physics, Astrophysics, Engineering, or a related field.
  • A demonstrated record of authorship on two or more peer-reviewed publications.
  • A minimum of two years post-baccalaureate laboratory or instrumentation research experience in astrophysics (or a related discipline) at the time of application.


March 1, 2019. This is negotiable, but must be available to start no later than July 1, 2019. Ph.D. must be in hand at the time of initial appointment.


Postdoctoral Scholar appointments are full-time; the initial appointment will be for one year, with the possibility of reappointment (for up to a total of three years). Reappointment will be contingent upon positive performance review and availability of funding. The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including postdoctoral service at any institution. Under limited circumstances, an exception to this limit may be considered, not to exceed a sixth year.


Applications are accepted via the UCSC Academic Recruit online system. All documents and materials must be submitted as PDFs.


Please refer to Position # JPF00679-19T in all correspondence.



  • Letter of application that briefly summarizes your qualifications and interest in the position (required)
  • Curriculum vitae, which must include a list of publications (required)


Reference Requirement
Applicants must provide the names and contact information of three references (a minimum of two are required and a maximum of three will be accepted). The hiring unit will request confidential letters* from the references of those applicants who are under serious consideration. Note that your references, or dossier service, will submit their confidential letters directly to the UC Recruit System.


*All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. For any reference letter provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service, career center), direct the author to UCSC’s confidentiality statement at


Full consideration will be given to applications completed by January 16, 2019. Applications received after this date will be considered only if the position has not been filled.


The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. UC Santa Cruz is committed to excellence through diversity and strives to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students and employees. Inquiries regarding the University’s equal employment opportunity policies may be directed to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 or by phone at (831) 459-2686.


Under Federal law, the University of California may employ only individuals who are legally able to work in the United States as established by providing documents as specified in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Certain UCSC positions funded by federal contracts or sub-contracts require the selected candidate to pass an E-Verify check (see More information is available at the APO website (see or call (831) 459-4300.


UCSC is a smoke & tobacco-free campus.


If you need accommodation due to a disability, please contact the Academic Personnel Office at (831) 459-4300. Visit the Apo Web Site at




Santa Cruz, CA



Document requirements
  • Cover Letter - Letter of application that briefly summarizes your qualifications and interest in the position

  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V., which must include a list of publications.

Reference requirements
  • 2-3 required (contact information only)



  1. Create an ApplicantID

  2. Provide required information and documents

  3. If any, provide required reference information

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