CSIRO Research Plus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Radio Astronomy

Sydney, Australia
13 May 2020
End of advertisement period
14 Jun 2020
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

A jointly funded Macquarie University and CSIRO Postdoctoral fellowship - Determining the centre of the solar system for gravitational wave and planetary astronomy

  • An exciting career opportunity to work with leading academics and innovative research team
  • Salary Package: Level A Step 6 from $93,830 to $100,559 p.a., 17% employer’s superannuation and annual leave loading
  • Full-time, fixed-term for a period of 3 years

We are seeking a qualified and pro-active Postdoctoral Fellow in Astrophysics. CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) and Macquarie University are jointly funding a postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research that will accelerate the detection of ultra-low-frequency gravitational waves using pulsar timing array data sets by improving our understanding of the mass and dynamics of the solar system and its impact on astrophysical measurements. There will be additional opportunities for carrying out observations, theoretical modelling, data analysis and/or software development relating to pulsar studies, gravitational wave detection and solar-system astronomy.

About the Institutes

The postdoctoral Fellow will be employed by Macquarie University and be based within the Department of Physics and Astronomy as part of the Research Centre MQAAAstro, but will work closely with CSIRO staff. Both institutes are conveniently situated in neighboring leafy campuses, located near the Lane Cove National Park in beautiful Sydney, Australia.

The MQAAAstro Research Centre comprises around 40 research staff, postdocs and postgraduate students, and combines astronomy-focused research and engineering from across the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Macquarie University node of Australian Astronomical Optics (which develops instrumentation and software for world class telescopes). The ‘Excellence in Research for Australia’ (ERA) national ranking evaluation has placed Macquarie’s ‘Astronomical and Space Sciences’ capabilities in the highest bracket of ‘ERA 5: Well Above World Standard’ since 2012.

CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) operates a number of world-class radio astronomy observatories that are collectively known as the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF). These include the Parkes 64m diameter radio telescope, the Australia Telescope Compact Array at Narrabri and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder. CSIRO also operates NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) located in Tidbinbilla, on the outskirts of Canberra. CSIRO is now commissioning the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia and this will be operated as part of the ATNF. The CASS headquarters are in Marsfield, Sydney.

Both institutes are strongly committed to building safe and welcoming workplace cultures, and to implementing initiatives to improve diversity and equity within their workplaces. The Department of Physics and Astronomy maintains an active Equity and Diversity Committee, and holds a Silver Level Pleiades award from the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Astronomy chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia. Read more about these activities, including our Workplace Culture statement, at the following URL: https://tinyurl.com/physastromq.

Role Overview

The successful candidate will be invited to become part of the Parkes and International Pulsar Timing Array projects and have access to World-leading high precision timing data sets. The primary goal is to detect and study ultra-low-frequency gravitational waves. To do this we need to understand why pulsar timing array data sets are dominated by unexplained noise processes linked with the solar system planetary ephemerides. The successful candidate will interact with pulsar timing and solar system researchers to resolve the physical phenomenon causing this. Expected outcomes directly relate to high precision pulsar timing experiments, gravitational wave searches and in understanding our solar system.

As a joint appointee, there will be opportunities to contribute to undergraduate teaching though Macquarie's physics and astronomy major programs, and to assist with research student supervision via CSIRO and Macquarie’s Masters and PhD programs. The successful candidate will also be encouraged to collaborate more broadly with CSIRO and MQ researchers, and will be mentored and supported in exploring funding opportunities to enhance and develop their research program.

Key accountabilities:

Under the direction of senior research scientists at CSIRO and Macquarie University the Fellow will:

  • Use Parkes Pulsar Timing Array data sets to compare the position of the Solar system barycentre with the position predicted by Solar System ephemerides produced by the US, European, Russian and Chinese groups.
  • Study physical phenomena that could lead to the measured discrepancy in the solar system barycentre and explore related projects such as searching for ‘Planet X’ and placing bounds on gravitational waves.
  • Collaborate with members of a diverse project team and external partners to ensure research directions can lead to lasting impact in application domains.
  • Publish results in relevant international scientific venues (high-level journals and conferences).
  • Communicate effectively and respectfully with all staff, clients and suppliers in the interests of good business practice, collaboration and enhancement of the reputations of Macquarie University and CSIRO.

To Apply

To be considered for this position, applicants must address the Selection Criteria below in a separate document or covering letter and upload the document as part of the application process with their curriculum vitae.

Essential selection criteria:

  • A doctorate (or will shortly satisfy the requirements of a PhD) in a relevant discipline area, such as Astrophysics, Computing and/or Physics.
  • The ability to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary, regionally dispersed research team, plus the motivation and discipline to carry out independent research.
  • A record of science innovation and creativity, plus the ability & willingness to incorporate novel ideas and approaches into scientific investigations.

Desirable selection criteria:

  • Knowledge of pulsar timing array observations, data sets, algorithms, software and data processing
  • Knowledge of solar system dynamics
  • Knowledge of Python, C, C++, Julia or similar programming languages
  • Demonstrated ability to work across multiple research areas – such as pulsar and planetary astronomy.

Other Salary Benefits:

Through CSIRO, a discretionary research/travel allowance will be available, together with assistance with relocation and other benefits, including health insurance.

Enquiries: Dr Joanne Dawson at Macquarie University (joanne.dawson@mq.edu.au) or Dr George Hobbs at CSIRO (george.hobbs@csiro.au)

Applications Close: Sunday, 14th June 2020 at 11:55 pm

At Macquarie University, we are committed to providing a working environment where each individual is valued, respected and supported to progress. Our priority is to ensure culture, policies and processes are truly inclusive and that no-one is disadvantaged on the basis of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, gender, culture, disability, LGBTIQA+ identities, family and caring responsibilities, age, or religion. We encourage everyone who meets the selection criteria and shares Macquarie University’s values of scholarship, empowerment and integrity to apply.

Learn more about our progress towards Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.