Research Associate/Senior Research Associate in Gaia/PLATO Data Science
Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2025 in the
first instance with good prospects for further extension subject to grant
funding. The anticipated start date is 1st December 2022 or as early as
This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious data scientist to work at the
Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU) in the Institute of Astronomy
(IoA) as part of the Gaia and PLATO system development teams.
Gaia is space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in
2013 and expected to operate until 2025. Gaia's key objective is a detailed
study of the Milky Way that will reveal our Galaxy's content, dynamics,
current state and formation history.
PLATO is a European Space Agency (ESA) 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 high-precision photometric light curves of the
The successful candidate will work within CASU's Gaia and PLATO software
development teams. The main tasks will be in data analysis and development of
novel scientific algorithms and applications in the areas of photometric and
spectrophotometric processing (Gaia) and photometric light curve analysis
(PLATO). The role will also involve: contributions to the software
infrastructure, liaising with the wider PLATO and Gaia project teams and
external science users; contributing to the documentation and user manuals;
and collaborating in the Gaia and PLATO exoplanet related research programs to
optimise interpretation and use of such Gaia and PLATO data. The role will
include opportunities to interact with the wider CASU team.
The successful candidate will have experience in data analysis and validation
activities, a good practical knowledge of scientific algorithm development and
a PhD degree in a numerate discipline (preferably Astronomy, Physics,
Computer Science, Computer Engineering or related field). Candidates are
expected to be familiar with the acquisition and reduction of data from large-
scale astronomical facilities or surveys and with the use of database and web-
based systems. Knowledge of Python/Java and object oriented programming is
required, while knowledge of database systems would be advantageous.
The post-holder will be required to attend meetings both elsewhere in the UK
Salary will be either on the Research Associate scale (grade 7, from £34,308
to £42,155) or, for exceptional and established researchers, on the Senior
Research Associate scale (grade 9, from £43,414 to £54,949).
Appointment as a Research Associate (grade 7) is dependent on having a PhD.
Those who have submitted their thesis but not yet been awarded their PhD will
initially be appointed as a Research Assistant and amended to Research
Associate when the PhD is awarded. The Research Assistant salary (grade 5)
falls within the range £27,929 to £32,348.
The University of Cambridge thrives on the diversity of its staff and
students. Applications from underrepresented groups are particularly welcome.
We have an active Equality and Diversity Committee which continually works to
further the aims of the Athena SWAN charter. The University has a number of
family-friendly policies and initiatives, including a returning-carer scheme,
childcare costs support, university workplace nurseries, university holiday
play-schemes, and a shared parental-leave policy. As part of its commitment to
providing a family-friendly environment for researchers, the IoA ensures that
should parental leave be needed during the course of employment, there is
provision for extension to contract to compensate for the parental leave
Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment
system (if you have not already) and apply online.
Please ensure that you upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV), cover letter,
publications list and research statement (three A4 pages maximum in 11pt
font) in the Upload section of the online application. The names and email
contact details of three academic referees are a necessary part of the
submission. You should advise nominated referees that their references will be
requested with a deadline of 25th October 2022.
Interviews will be held in he week beginning 7th November 2022
Informal enquires can be addressed via email to Dr Nicholas Walton
Please quote reference LG33025 on your application and in any correspondence
about this vacancy.
The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and
encourages applications from all sections of society.
The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible
to live and work in the UK.
Institute of Astronomy
6 September 2022
19 October 2022