Principal Investigator for the TMT/WFOS Spectrograph

Principal Investigator for the TMT/WFOS Spectrograph
Review of applications will begin on March 1, 2016

The University of California Observatories (UCO) invites applications for the position of Principal Investigator for the Wide-Field Optical Spectrograph on the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT).  The TMT is an extremely large telescope with a primary mirror diameter of 30 meters. When completed in 2024, TMT will be one of the most powerful ground-based optical/infrared telescopes in the world, providing the capability to study fundamental astronomical problems from the first stars in the universe to the nature and formation of extra-solar planets. An international partnership consisting of the California Institute of Technology, Canada, China, India, Japan, and the University of California has been formed to deliver this exciting new observatory. For more information, please see

The Wide-Field Optical Spectrograph (WFOS) is a general purpose seeing-limited wide-field multi-object optical spectrograph designed and built by an international consortium for TMT. The WFOS project is being hosted by the University of California Observatories (UCO), a UC Multi-Campus Research Unit currently headquartered at UC Santa Cruz, charged with providing optical/infrared observing facilities to UC astronomers. UCO will coordinate the design, management, integration, testing, and commissioning of WFOS, with major subsystems provided by TMT partners in the US, China, India, and Japan.

The WFOS Principal Investigator leads the WFOS Science Team, which (among other things) is responsible for developing initial performance requirements, overseeing subsequent performance trade-off studies, and defining, executing, and analyzing tests to measure instrument capabilities. The WFOS Principal Investigator reports to the UCO Director, with project-line reporting to the TMT Project Office. Significant travel is expected, including trips to China, Japan, India, Pasadena, and the observatory site planned for Maunakea in Hawaii.  The WFOS Principal Investigator is appointed in the Professional Research series and is eligible to apply for time on UCO-affiliated telescopes, advise graduate students in collaboration with a UC faculty member, and prepare and apply for external grants as Principal Investigator. The incumbent’s research may be largely scientific or technical in nature. It is expected that the incumbent will eventually be an active observer with WFOS.

JOB DUTIES (partial, for full job description see

• In partnership with the WFOS Project Manager, lead the WFOS Team to build a strong, integrated, international partnership that ensures that WFOS will excel as a first-light science instrument on TMT;
• Lead the WFOS Science Team in their task of envisioning a high-quality science instrument, simulating and evaluating its capabilities, planning for its use, and supporting the Construction Team in the design, construction, and delivery of WFOS;
• Serve as the key point of contact with the TMT Project Office for all matters related to the science performance and operational requirements of WFOS;
• Act as the ambassador and spokesperson for WFOS to the TMT and world astronomical communities;
• Hold responsibility for WFOS scientific requirements and high-level performance requirements, for trade studies as the project matures, and for designing, executing, and analyzing tests to verify that WFOS meets all requirements;
• Coordinate and oversee programmatic activities such as budgeting and resource allocation for the WFOS Science Team;
•  Interface with TMT Observatory personnel to design and plan WFOS operations;
• Conduct original scientific and/or technical research that has visibility and impact on the course of astronomical science;
• Participate in a variety of other activities in general service to UCO.

RANK: Research Astronomer
SALARY: Commensurate with qualifications and experience.

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS: A PhD (or equivalent foreign) degree in Astronomy, Physics, or a closely related Engineering discipline; a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in design and construction of large, high-technology astronomy projects; an active research program relevant to WFOS science and/or technology; experience leading teams with varied technical specialties.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: Previous leadership roles in the design and construction of large, high-technology astronomy projects; self-motivated and able to perform with minimal direction; knowledge and broad understanding of the intended science with WFOS; familiarity with numerical simulations and modeling; familiarity with modern project management tools; familiarity with spectrograph optical design and modern optical design tools; familiarity with current developments in optical/IR instrumentation technology; excellent interpersonal and communication skills; demonstrated ability to generate clear and concise technical documents; demonstrated ability to clearly present technical and programmatic information in meetings, reviews, and conferences; excellent negotiation skills and ability to foster effective team cooperation; participation in significant international projects; familiarity with Mandarin Chinese and/or Japanese.

IMPORTANT: The application materials and letters of reference are expected to specifically address the requirements and qualifications enumerated in this document.

CLOSING DATE:  Review of applications will begin on March 1, 2016.  To ensure full consideration, applications should be complete by this date. The position will remain open until filled.

POSITION AVAILABLE: April 1, 2016, or as soon as possible after closing date.

TERM OF APPOINTMENT:  Initial appointment will be for three years with anticipated reappointment.  Should the hiring unit propose reappointment, a review to assess performance will be conducted.  Reappointment is also contingent upon availability of funding.

TO APPLY:  Applications are accepted via the UCSC Academic Recruit online system, and must include: application letter with a statement of interest and qualifications including a summary of scientific management and administrative experience, a current CV and publication list, a .pdf document containing web links to your three publications most relevant to this position and to WFOS, and 3 letters of  reference addressing your specific qualifications for the position as noted above*. Documents/materials must be submitted as PDF files.

Apply at
Refer to Position #JPF00334 in all correspondence.

*All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. For any reference letter provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service, career center), direct the author to UCSC’s confidentiality statement at

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