Assistant Researcher in High Contrast Imaging
University of California Berkeley
United States

Assistant Research Astronomer in High Contrast Imaging -Space Sciences Laboratory

Job #JPF02610
  • VC Res Organized Rsearch Units - Space Sciences Laboratory

Recruitment Period

Open date: May 26th, 2020

Next review date: Tuesday, Jun 9, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)

Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: Friday, Jun 26, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)

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 Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley seeks applications for a part-time (50%) Assistant Research Astronomer in the area of high contrast imaging and debris disk science with an expected start date between September 2020 and October 2020.

About The Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley:
Built six decades ago, UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) was the realization of NASA’s vision to gather many of the most innovative and dedicated science minds in one place at Berkeley. In the hill above Berkeley, physicists, researchers, biologists, engineers and technicians worked in unison: interacting, learning from one another, leading, challenging and inspiring one another in creating cutting-edge space science instrumentation and conducting top research. Through sixty years of NASA-funded support, their efforts, and those of hundreds of dedicated students and staff, have brought about myriad highlights, such as the space science missions of S3-3, ISEE, Polar, Van Allen Probes, Cluster, IMAGE, THEMIS and MAVEN . All have contributed to new discoveries about the physics of space, and initiated marked new advances in engineering technology.

Position Description:

An Assistant Researcher position is open at U.C. Berkeley to work on detecting and characterizing extrasolar planetary systems at optical to mm wavelengths, with a particular focus on debris disk science.

Assistant Research Astronomer will:

  • Reduce and analyze data from ground-based high-contrast imaging instruments, the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, ALMA, Gaia, and all other new or existing data pertinent to debris disk science.

  • Apply their expertise in modeling grain emission and scattering from disks to interpret the results.

  • Will be expected to write observing and funding proposals, lead observing runs, write peer-reviewed manuscripts, give presentations at conferences, and co-supervise postdoctoral fellow(s) and student(s).

Basic Qualifications:

  • PhD or equivalent international degree required at the time of application.

Additional Qualifications( required by start date of the job)

  • Minimum three years of postdoctoral experience working on high-contrast imaging and debris disks.

  • Record of research publications since PhD degree.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • PhD in Astronomy or a related field.

  • Minimum of four lead-author, peer-reviewed papers concerning debris science.

  • Experience with proposing for telescope time and executing observations.

  • Expertise reducing and analyzing astronomical data, with a focus on high contrast imaging data (e.g., angular/spectral/polarimetric differential imaging, PSF subtraction, forward modeling).

  • Experience reading and writing code for data reduction, analysis, modeling, and visualizing results, preferably in Python.

  • Expertise in analytical and numerical debris disk modeling regarding, e.g., disk morphology, scattering properties, thermal properties, and/or dynamical interactions.

  • Experience presenting scientific results in academic environments, e.g., via talks and posters at scientific conferences.

  • Must be able to work independently and collaboratively in a research group comprised of people at all career levels, treating colleagues respectfully and appropriately.

  • Expertise on the existing literature on debris disk science, exoplanet science, and high contrast imaging methods.

  • Extensive experience with polarimetric imaging methods and principles.

  • Experience supervising/mentoring junior scientists.

  • Comfortable working with large data sets and databases via tools such as SQL, online catalogs, etc.

The duration of the position is initially for one year and can be extended pending satisfactory progress and the availability of funds.

Salary and Benefits:

Starting salary will be commensurate with experience.

Initial appointment will be for one year, with the possibility of renewal based on performance and availability of funding.

The university provides a comprehensive benefits program which offers Medical, Dental, Vision, Life and AD&D Insurance, Short-Term Disability Insurance and Long-Term Disability Insurance. For a complete guide on UC Health Benefits for staff, please visit:

To apply, please visit:

All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality ( prior to submitting their letters.

Please address inquires to Paul Kalas:

Diversity Statement:

The Space Sciences Laboratory is interested in candidates who will contribute to the diversity and equal opportunity in higher education through their work.

Family Friendly Statement:

UC Berkeley has an excellent benefits package as well as a number of policies and programs to support employees as they balance work and family.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. It is the policy of the University not to engage in discrimination against or harassment of any person employed or seeking employment with the University of California on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), genetic information (including family medical history), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:


Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.
  • Cover Letter
  • Statement of Research - 3-5 page statement of research interests and future plans.
  • Statement on Contributions to Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Statement on your contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including information about your understanding of these topics, your record of activities to date, and your specific plans and goals for advancing equity and inclusion if hired at Berkeley (for additional information go to
  • (Optional)
  • Publications List
Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)

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