Research Scientist

California, United States
Friday, 30 October 2020
End of advertisement period
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Research Scientist to join its team. LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to observing the newly discovered gravitational-wave universe. Jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LIGO Laboratory operates world-leading observatories near Richland, WA and Baton Rouge, LA as well as R&D centers on the Caltech and MIT campuses. The LIGO Laboratory’s mission spans a broad and vibrant array of activities related to gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, including detector operations, R&D toward detector improvements, gravitational-wave astrophysics, observatory operations, and education and public outreach. This position will be dedicated to improving the sensitivity of the LIGO interferometers, as well as future generations of gravitational-wave detectors.

For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at

This position is located in Pasadena, California.

Life at Caltech/LIGO
LIGO Caltech is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech has an extraordinary science impact across many fields. Its small size creates a community where innovation and collaboration are the norm. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories.

Pasadena is a city known for its contributions to science and technology, rich history, cultural treasures, and scenic beauty. The year-round comfortable weather creates a desirable environment for life and ideas to thrive. See  Bill Nye’s take on our city.

People choose to work at LIGO for many reasons, often with fulfilling, long-term careers. LIGO is a family-friendly laboratory and strives to ensure everyone is able to achieve the work-life balance they desire. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. LIGO Caltech staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club memberships (only Caltech site template).

Caltech and LIGO Laboratory’s goal is to build a world-class, diverse workforce and support an inclusive environment that encourages professional development and offers top-notch benefits. Our talented staff, who work at the Caltech campus, or one of our Observatories, come from a variety of fields. Positions include scientists, engineers, information technology staff, outreach professionals, managers, writers, business professionals, and administrative staff. We are deeply committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply for these opportunities. Our experience has demonstrated that the broader the styles, characteristics, backgrounds, and abilities of our staff—in other words, the more diverse our team is—the greater potential we have for success. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer.

LIGO Laboratory is committed to being a welcoming place for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status.

Caltech HR diversity page:

Job Duties

  • Analysis of the Noise and Sensitivity of the LIGO Interferometers.
  • Assist with Research & Development for the development of new laser-interferometric sensing and control of LIGO-like interferometers
  • Scientific investigation in a research group comprised mainly of graduate students and postdocs
  • Assist in the commissioning of the LIGO interferometers between the scientific data taking periods
  • Mentorship of students and postdocs
  • Other duties as assigned

Basic Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Experimental Physics, Physics, Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Astronautical Engineering
  • At least 2 years of standard laboratory work experience with lasers and clean-room environments
  • Expertise in low noise audio and RF electronics, high precision mechanical design, and quantum measurement theory and optimization

Preferred Qualifications

  • At least 5 years of precision measurement experience, preferably with laser interferometers
  • At least 2 years of experience with real-time feedback control systems, adaptive optics, quantum metrology, low-noise audio frequency electronics, low-noise RF electronics, nonlinear optics, cryogenics, vacuum systems, vibration isolation, finite element analysis

Required Documents

  • CV
  • Cover Letter
  • Letters of Reference (3-5)

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