Adaptive Optics (AO) Scientist | W.M. Keck Observatory

Date Posted: 
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Position Location: 
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Job Description: 

Are you ready to join a dynamic and dedicated team that develops and optimizes Adaptive Optics systems for astronomical science?

The W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) operates two 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes and an associated suite of advanced instrumentation, including laser guide star adaptive optics facilities. These telescopes have been extremely productive scientifically and have allowed the WMKO science community to play a leading role in understanding the universe from our solar system, to exoplanets, black holes, the earliest galaxies, and dark matter and energy.

This position leads and support efforts in the development and optimization of the Keck Adaptive Optics (AO) Systems; from initial requirements and concepts to astrophysical results. Current development activities include a near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor, a new real-time control system and point spread function reconstruction, as we as the integration of a coronagraphic fiber injection feed to a near-infrared spectrograph. Future plans include a laser tomography system.

Principal activities include:

  • Play a lead role in the design, development, characterization, optimization and commissioning of new AO capabilities and their handover to operations.
  • Play a lead role in the characterization, optimization and improvement of the operational AO systems.
  • Help guide the continued development of WMKO’s high angular resolution capabilities.
  • Document new AO capabilities and performance to support operations and development.
  • Play a lead role in the preparation for and performance of engineering observing runs, in order to efficiently and effectively carry out the nighttime engineering observing programs.
  • Conduct AO research to further the Keck high angular resolution capabilities, performance or productivity, and to stimulate research at WMKO.

Required Qualifications include:

  • Ph.D. level degree in adaptive optics or high angular resolution astronomy, or equivalent experience.
  • Three (3) years' of relevant experience in the development and/or use of adaptive optics for astronomical research.
  • Two (2) years' of work experience in instrumentation development or operations.
  • Outstanding candidates who expect to complete their Ph.D. shortly are also eligible to apply and should indicate their expected completion date on their cover letter.

About Us

Read about us, our science and our mission and submit a cover letter and resume telling us how your background and passion relate to this position. WMKO is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and in a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.


Keck Observatory offers a robust rewards package which includes: a competitive salary; a broad benefits bundle including a 403(b) plan; a highly regarded tuition assistance program for dependent children (K-12 grade); and an unmatched focus of excellence all while working on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii.


Apply to join a skilled and deeply committed team of professionals who enable exciting and important astronomical discoveries. Go to: