Scientific Research Associate

California, United States
12 Sep 2019
End of advertisement period
12 Nov 2019
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Full Time

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

Caltech is more than a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, it is a community—a community of curious and passionate individuals who collaborate to understand and solve complex scientific and societal challenges. Caltech is an award-winning workplace and one of the best places to work in the greater Los Angeles area. We offer an exciting and dynamic work environment, exceptional career development opportunities, competitive pay programs, great benefits, and the opportunity to participate in many campus programs and activities. Exceptional employees are critical to Caltech’s success.

IPAC, part of the Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division at Caltech (, provides science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground.

Euclid is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission to study the geometry and nature of the dark Universe. It is slated for launch in 2022. The Euclid mission has been optimized for the measurement of two probes sensitive to Dark Energy: (1) Weak Gravitational Lensing, and

(2) Galaxy Clustering, including both Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations and Redshift Space Distortions. NASA has established the Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI) in order to support US-based investigations using Euclid data. ENSCI will participate in the Euclid Consortium’s Science Ground Segment, providing algorithm and software development, participating in data quality assurance, and performing data processing. In addition, ENSCI will support the US research community by providing expert insight into the Euclid surveys, data processes, calibration, and products. For more details, see

SPHEREx, the “Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer”, is a recently-selected NASA Medium Explorer mission. SPHEREx will conduct the first all-sky near infrared (0.75 to 5 microns) spectroscopic survey during its planned two year mission, with launch in late 2023. SPHEREx is optimized for investigations in three primary science areas: (1) cosmic inflation and the non-Gaussianity of the primordial universe; (2) the origin of water in the early phases of planetary system formation; and (3) the evolution of large scale structure and the history of galaxy formation. IPAC is responsible for the SPHEREx Science Data Center, including designing, implementing and operating the data pipeline to produce photometry and catalogs and releasing the data to the community via IRSA, the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive. Data releases for lower level data products are scheduled on a monthly basis and for higher level products after each sky survey is completed.  

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. 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. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership. IPAC scientists have access to Palomar Observatory and other facilities, and are embedded in the vibrant research environment of Pasadena, CA.

Job Duties

IPAC invites applications from highly qualified individuals for a full time science staff position to work with the Euclid and SPHEREx teams at IPAC. Specific tasks may include:

  • Developing and testing algorithms for NIR data calibration and photometric measurements, including calibration of NIR emission-line spectra and galaxy photometry
  • Setting and interpreting requirements for pipeline modules including scope of effort and error budgets
  • Working with software developers to implement and test pipeline modules
  • Writing documentation for the pipeline and for the user community
  • Participating in meetings, tele- and video-conferences, together with travel to Euclid workshops in Europe

The preferred start date is December 2, 2019.

Basic Qualifications

  • PhD degree in astrophysics or a closely related field
  • At least five years of experience in infrared astronomy
  • The ability to work in an active team environment, including good written and verbal communication skills, is essential
  • The successful applicant will also be expected to conduct an independent research program, ideally in an area related to Euclid or SPHEREx science

Preferred Qualifications

Preference will be given to applicants who have demonstrated experience with any of the following:

  • Analysis of emission line galaxies in low resolution spectra
  • Calibration of NIR photometric and spectroscopic data
  • Optimizing sample-selection strategies for cosmology surveys
  • Dark energy research or space-based data analysis

Required Documents

  • Cover letter
  • CV
  • Names and contact information of three references