Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy

University of California Berkeley

United States

Postdoctoral Scholar - Time Domain - Department of Astronomy

Job #JPF02472
  • College of Letters & Science - Mathematical & Physical Sciences - Astronomy

Recruitment Period

Open date: January 22nd, 2020

Last review date: Monday, Feb 10, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications received after this date will be reviewed by the search committee if the position has not yet been filled.

Final date: Monday, Mar 23, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


The Department of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley seeks applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar to lead the development of software infrastructure and scientific algorithms for inference on time-series data from new and existing synoptic surveys. The work, conducted with a diverse and engaged set of individuals within Prof. Joshua Bloom’s group, is sponsored by a new software grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

This position revolves around SkyPortal, an open-source project centered at Berkeley that enables collaborative management and analysis of time-domain sources and events. As the project begins to be adopted by leading surveys, the postdoctoral scholar will be responsible for developing SkyPortal to ensure that its scientific potential is realized worldwide—both by Bloom-group collaborators and others. The scholar will help to manage and grow the user community with an eye towards creating a long-term sustainable open-source project.

In addition to software development, a critical component of this position is the generation of original, scholarly scientific output that makes primary use of (and/or expands the capabilities of) SkyPortal. This may include algorithmic development in methodological areas such semi-supervised learning, unsupervised anomaly detection, explainable/interpretable AI, and forecasting. It may also include domain-specific efforts in gravitational wave followup, tidal disruption events, or variable stars.

This work may draw on cutting-edge research in statistics, computational science, time-domain astronomy, and deep learning, and is expected to lead to applications beyond astronomy. The collaboration has access to proprietary astronomical datasets and is building systems capable of ingesting, assimilating, and creating "new knowledge" from massive data streams expected from forthcoming projects, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF2). The collaboration also has access to large-scale computing facilities on campus, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and through cloud computing time donated by industry partners.

This work will be directed by Prof. Joshua Bloom in the Astronomy Department, but the position also calls for strong interactions with other senior members of the collaboration in other departments (particularly Dr. Stefan van der Walt, project lead, and Prof. Fernando Perez) and at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Experience and a demonstrated interest in working with graduate students is also encouraged.

The strongest candidates will have demonstrated success in conducting original research in astronomy, statistics, machine learning (deep or otherwise) and should have a strong track record in building and maintaining Python computing codebases.

Basic/Minimum Qualifications (at time of application):
PhD or equivalent international degree or enrolled in PhD or equivalent international degree program.

Additional Qualifications (by start date):
A PhD degree or equivalent international degree is required by the start date.

Preferred Qualifications:
A PhD degree or equivalent international degree in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Statistics, Astronomy, or closely related fields.

Salary and Benefits:
Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. UC Berkeley offers excellent benefits packages as well as a number of policies and programs in to support employees as they balance work and family. Information on available plans and eligibility can be found at

The position is at full time (100%) for two years, with the possibility for a third-year extension depending on the availability of funds. The position will be open until filled. This position is in a represented bargaining unit. Work will commence no later than 15 August 2020. The appointment may start on an earlier date, if mutually convenient.

To apply:
Please submit applications electronically at

For questions contact Emily Martinez at

All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality ( prior to submitting their letters.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:

Job location

Berkeley, CA


Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter

  • Research Statement - Maximum 2 pages

  • Links to significant code contributions

  • List of publications - Including submitted but not yet refereed

Reference requirements
  • 3 letters of reference required

In your application, please refer to


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