Associate Director of Development

The International Gemini Observatory seeks an Associate Director of Development, to oversee the transformation of the Observatory’s instrumentation and adaptive optics capabilities over the next decade.

The International Gemini Observatory is among the world’s largest and most scientifically productive ground-based astronomical observatories. Gemini’s twin 8.1-meter optical/IR telescopes provide nightly access to both hemispheres of the sky and operate at two of the world’s best sites for ground-based astronomy (Maunakea, Hawai ‘i and Cerro Pachón, Chile). The telescopes currently host a wide suite of imaging and spectroscopic instrumentation, covering wavelengths between 0.4 and 5 microns, with adaptive optics (AO) capabilities optimized for the near-IR (~ 1–5 microns). The International Gemini Observatory is funded by an international partnership including the United States, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and the Republic of Korea, and is operated by the National Science Foundation’s National Optical and Infrared Laboratory (NOIRLab), under the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

Over the next decade, Gemini seeks to drive investigator-led breakthrough discoveries spanning from the closest exoplanets to the most distant quasars, while achieving its goal of becoming the premier large-aperture time domain astronomy follow-up facility in the era of Rubin Observatory, Roman Space Telescope, and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Gemini will meet this challenge through a major revitalization of its instrumentation suite, AO facilities, user support infrastructure, and the realization of new capabilities gained by harnessing NOIRLab’s significant infrastructure in data science, communications, and outreach.

Gemini instrumentation is undergoing a major period of renewal, with multiple new and upgraded instruments arriving at Gemini in the next 5-10 years. These include the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST), IGRINS-2, SCORPIO, the Gemini Infrared Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS), and upgrades to Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). The revitalization of Gemini’s AO program is a key component of Gemini’s scientific strategic plan. There is an on-going program of improvements for the Gemini-South Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system (GeMS) and the development of a new flexible Gemini-North Adaptive Optics (GNAO) system to operate in combination with GIRMOS. Finally, the next-generation facility instrument is expected to start within the next several years, in partnership with the Gemini community. For more information about Gemini’s current and future instrumentation, see

Essential Functions:

  • The Associate Director (AD) of Development is responsible for overseeing the Gemini portfolio of instrumentation development projects. This includes the development of new instrumentation, instrument upgrades, and the visiting instrument program.
  • The AD of Development manages the Gemini Instrument Development fund and is expected to actively seek out technology partnerships and funding opportunities.
  • The AD of Development engages regularly with a set of diverse external stakeholders to report on the progress of Gemini’s development projects, and to obtain broad consensus for strategic development priorities.
  • The AD of Development is responsible for overseeing the cycle of Gemini instrument development, starting with community engagement, development of requirements, selection and oversight of external contractors, and oversight of commissioning and hand-over to operations.
  • They manage a diverse, distributed group of instrument scientists, systems engineers, project managers, and AO specialists.
  • The AD of Development partners with NOIRLab engineering and science services to identify additional resources within NOIRLab and supports broader NOIRLab long-term plans and activities. The AD is a member of the Gemini leadership team, reporting to the Gemini Observatory Director. 

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • An advanced degree in astronomy, physics, or engineering (PhD or equivalent) is required.
  • 10+ years of experience in astronomical instrument development or a related field. 

Skills Required:

  • This role requires strong communication skills and strong knowledge of project management and systems engineering best practices. 
  • Experience with developing astronomical instruments is essential for success in this role. Gemini furthers its technology development program primarily via external partnerships and contracts; therefore, strong collaboration and negotiation skills are essential.
  • The ability to successfully manage technically, culturally, and geographically diverse teams, and to exemplify Gemini/NOIRLab’s working culture is essential.

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Gemini/NOIRLab is a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) and experience executing projects within US-federal uniform guidance and the National Science Foundations’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure guidelines is preferred. 

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

This work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required.

This position requires significant travel to each of Gemini’s sites (Hawaii, Chile, Arizona), and international travel to engage with our vendors and partners.

The ability to work at high altitude (14,000 ft) is preferred. This role may be based in Hilo, Hawaii; La Serena, Chile, or Tucson, Arizona.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter outlining their vision for this important position, their interest in Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab, and their relevant past experiences; a CV; and arrange for at least 3 letters of recommendation to sent to [email protected] (cc: [email protected]). We will begin to review applications on April 15th, and will continue to accept applications until the position is filled.

For more information:

Gemini Observatory Overview – 

Gemini Observatory Instrumentation Capabilities – 

Gemini Observatory Scientific Strategic Plan – 

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off, health and welfare benefits, and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment. Details on benefits can be found at 

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated including being up to date on boosters, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment. Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed. This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

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