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Job Title:
Physicist (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow), IS-1310-Grade 11; $81,963 - $106,549 per year
Type of Position:
Trust Fund Temporary - Not To Exceed Two Years With The Possibility Of Extension For A Third Year.
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all eligible candidates.


Note:   First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening of this vacancy. 


What are Trust Fund Positions?

Trust Fund positions are unique to the Smithsonian. They are paid for from a variety of sources, including the Smithsonian endowment, revenue from our business activities, donations, grants and contracts. Trust employees are not part of the civil service, nor does trust fund employment lead to Federal status. The salary ranges for trust positions are generally the same as for federal positions and in many cases trust and federal employees work side by side. Trust employees have their own benefit program and may include Health, Dental & Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, Transit/Commuter Benefits, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Annual and Sick Leave, Family Friendly Leave, 403b Retirement Plan, Discounts for Smithsonian Memberships, Museum Stores and Restaurants, Credit Union, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (Childcare), Flexible Spending Account (Health & Dependent Care). 



The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. SAO combines its resources with those of the Harvard College Observatory to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). The CfA is the best-known astrophysics center in the world. Its programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch and use in large ground-based facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support.  Government funds are in the form of Federal appropriations or the form of contracts and grants from other agencies. In contrast, Institution funds are available to SAO through grants from the Institution's Restricted Funds, Special Purpose Funds, Bureau Activities, Business Activities, and non-Federal contracts and grants. 

This is the position of Physicist (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow) in the Atomic and Molecular Physics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. This position aims to train postdoctoral researchers to conceive, plan, and conduct highly specialized research in the incumbent’s area of specialization. The incumbent will be expected to perform scholarly research and contribute to the fields of physical science.



  • Laboratory experiments at centimeter wavelengths using Fourier transform microwave techniques.
  • Perform spectroscopic analysis to identify and characterize new reactive molecules.
  • Participate in an integrated experimental, theoretical, and astronomical effort to understand interstellar aromatic chemistry.
  • Prepare refereed publications and present talks at professional meetings.
  • Perform other duties as may be required.



Basic Requirements:

A.    Degree: physics or related degree that included at least 24 semester hours in physics; 


B. Combination of education and experience -- courses equivalent to a major in physics totaling at least 24 semester hours, plus appropriate experience or additional education. In either A or B above, the courses must have included a fundamental course in general physics and, in addition, courses in any two of the following: electricity and magnetism, heat, light, mechanics, modern physics, and sound.
In addition to Basic Requirements above, you must have: 

a) One year of specialized experience equivalent to difficulty and responsibility to grade 9 level work in the Federal government.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as those duties listed above. 

b) Education for Grade 11: Master's or equivalent graduate degree
c) Combinations of successfully completed graduate-level education and specialized experience may be used to meet total experience requirements.

Additional Requirements:  Candidates must possess at least one year of specialized experience at or above the grade (11) level in similar positions.  Specialized experience is experience that has provided the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the work of the position.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required:

  • Knowledge of high-resolution molecular spectroscopy
  • Knowledge of experimental physics
  • Knowledge of theoretical modeling and computer simulations
  • Knowledge of scientific software development and data acquisition
  • Skill in developing new software and modifying existing programs
  • Ability to present findings in a publishable format
  • Skill in oral and written communication as evidenced by refereed journal publications in molecular spectroscopy and relevant applications


Applicants, who wish to qualify based on education completed outside the United States, must be deemed equivalent to higher education programs of U.S. Institutions by an organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. This documentation is the responsibility of the applicant and should be included as part of your application package.


Any false statement in your application may result in your application being rejected and may also result in termination after employment begins.


The Smithsonian Institution values and seeks a diverse workforce. Join us in "Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery."

Resumes should include a description of your paid and non-paid work experience that is related to this job; starting and ending dates of job (month and year); and average number of hours worked per week.  

What To Expect Next: Once the vacancy announcement closes, a review of your resume will be compared against the qualification and experience requirements related to this job. After review of applicant resumes is complete, qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact  Requests for reasonable accommodation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.  To learn more, please review the Smithsonian’s Accommodation Procedures.

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds support and enhance our daily work life and contribute to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. See Smithsonian EEO program information:

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace. Please visit the SAO website at


Application ProceduresHow to Apply:  Please use the following link to visit Smithsonian's Career Page:  Smithsonian Institution Job Opportunities Site

Conditions of Employment: 

  • Successful completion of a pre-employment background investigation.                                                                 
  • A one-year probationary period is required.     


The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact the Human Resources Specialist listed. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds supports and enhances our daily work life and contributes to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. For more information on the Smithsonian EEO program please see

Visit the SAO website at



Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website