Job posting 20-13
Opening date: January 13, 2020
Closing date:March 31, 2020
TITLE: Astrophysicist, IS-1330 Grades 7/9 $48,159 to $76,583 annually
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund, Indefinite
DIVISION: - HEA High Energy Astrophysics Division
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Resident status. Selection may be made at either the grade 7 or 9 grade level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 9. A candidate selected at grade 7 may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher grade level, up to grade 9, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee
First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.
This is the position of Astrophysicist (Research Assistant) in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is to support scientific research in the area of solar
physics, specifically in obtaining and analyzing data.
Duties at Grade 7:
1. Participate in the conduct of research in the field of solar physics relating to software, instrument and
detector testing, fabrication, development, and calibration. This includes the setting up of data-taking
experiments, acquiring data, and evaluation of this data.
2. Assist the scientific staff in the conceptual definition of solar observing programs through research,
including literature searches, and discussions with senior colleagues.
3. Participate in the XRT, AIA and IRIS investigations, analyzing quick-look data and evaluating observed
sequences. Analyze sets of observations. This includes data reduction, statistical analysis, plotting,
logging, archiving, evaluation, and reporting of results.
4. Analyze observational data from solar projects. This includes coordinated observations with satellites and
ground-based telescopes, calibration data sets, aligning images, comparing the data with different
theoretical models, defining the necessary algorithms or computer programs, performing manual
calculations or coding, and debugging computer programs.
5. Assist in the development of written procedures and standards for analyzing data sets.
6. Assist in publishing papers and/or present talks or posters at professional meetings on the results of
Grade 9: In addition to the duties above, duties at grade 09 may include but are not limited to:
1. Science related (astronomy, physics of models, algorithms). Analyze data and draw conclusions regarding
the quality, selection, reliability, and scientific content of the data. Assist scientific staff in activities such as
running experiments and acquiring data. Organize and summarize results in reports for the scientific staff to
utilize in their research. Develop, test, and modify new and existing computer code, as necessary, to accomplish
these data analysis activities.
2. Computer related (programming). Develop and analyze numerical algorithms on which data analysis
software will be based in collaboration with staff scientists. Write and modify prototype analysis software code
for analyzing data. Design, code, test, and debug software. Generate and maintain software documentation.
3. Data related (analysis, models). Write computer programs for modeling by converting algorithms to computer
programs and testing algorithms by running and debugging these programs. When errors occur in the programs or
data, determine cause and take corrective action in consultation with scientific staff.
4. Instrument observations. Design and prepare observation plans for scientific instruments in the groupís
programs. Communicate with instrument team about ongoing observation plans and policies. Coordinate joint
observations with other instruments and observatories. Evaluate data against observations plans and scientific
objectives. Provide support to other people working with the groupís instruments. Assist with instrument
calibration and engineering operations.
5. Scholarly activities. Provide technical assistance to other division staff such as scientists and IT Specialists, and
assist members of other institutions as appropriate. Assist in publishing papers and/or present talks or posters at
professional meetings on the results of experimental research.
All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements: A. Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics,
mathematics, or space science. The course work must have included differential and integral calculus and 12
semester hours in astronomy and/or physics. OR B. Combination of education and experience - at least 30
semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, and
mathematics with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.
In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience
and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below:
Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 5 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level
normally would have included conducting research in the field of solar physics relating to software, instrument and detector testing, fabrication, development and calibration; analyzing observational data from solar projects.
OR Completion of one-year of graduate level education OR Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) when it provided the applicant with the criteria necessary to do the work of the position. For SAA
requirements, please go to OPM website: http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/policy/ApplicationOfStds-04.asp
Grade 9: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 7 level in the normal line of progression for
the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included analyzing data and drawing conclusions regarding the quality, selection, reliability, and scientific content of the data; developing, testing and modify new and existing computer codes; designing, coding, testing and debugging software; writing computer programs by converting algorithms to computer programs.
OR 2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For
complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit:
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