Adaptive Optics Operations Scientist | W.M. Keck Observatory

Date Posted: 
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Position Location: 
Maunakea, HI
Job Description: 

Do you want to be part of a team that wins Nobel Prizes? Do you want to help Keck’s Adaptive Optics (AO) systems deliver the highest image quality possible?   

The W. M. Keck Observatory seeks an Adaptive Optics Operations Scientist to lead and support efforts in the science operation of the Keck AO Systems; optimizing performance, efficiency, and reliability for the purpose of understanding the physical universe.  This position works in close collaboration with the Science Operations Lead. Interested and qualified persons are encouraged to apply to join our team and make the most powerful and scientifically productive telescopes on earth even better.   

Principal Activities include 

  • Work with observing support and AO development teams in the commissioning of new AO capabilities and the handover to operations.
  • Work closely with the AO Operations Lead, AO Operations team, AO instrument Masters, and AO development teams to set priorities for AO tasks, projects, upgrades, etc. while maintaining the integrity of the operational systems.
  • Work closely with the AO Operations Lead and Support Astronomers in the more advanced and comprehensive calibrations of the AO system.
  • Play a lead role in the characterization, optimization and improvement of the operational AO systems to maximize science productivity.

All qualified applicants, including women, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. WMKO provides mentoring and training to the selected candidate. 


  • 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.
  • A broad understanding of the multiple engineering disciplines needed to develop and operate adaptive optics systems.
  • Experience in data visualization, spectral data reduction and analysis.


The Observatory seeks an AO Scientist who is a motivated self-starter, has knowledge, experience, and expertise in laser guide star AO systems, and who appreciates the chance to work at the cutting edge of discovery in astronomy. 

  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities.
  • Ability to develop an expert level knowledge of the Keck AO systems.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.


Apply to join a skilled and deeply committed team of professionals who enable exciting and important astronomical discoveries. Submit a cover letter and resume telling us how your background and passion relate to the position.  Go to  

About Us 

WMKO operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. Read about us, our science and our mission, go to  


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); professional development, and an unmatched focus on excellence.   

WMKO is an Equal Opportunity Employer 


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