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Research Associate/Senior Research Associate in Exoplanet Data Science (Fixed Term)

University of Cambridge - Institute of Astronomy

Location: Cambridge
Salary: £32,816 to £52,559 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 20th August 2021
Closes: 22nd September 2021
Job Ref: LG27846

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2023 in the first instance. 

This is an exciting opportunity for an Exoplanet Data Scientist to work within the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU) at the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) as part of the PLATO exoplanet analysis system development team. 

PLATO is a European Space Agency mission that will detect and characterise a huge sample of exoplanets around bright stars. Within the PLATO Consortium, the IoA's CASU team are responsible for the development and operation of the Exoplanet Analysis System. 

CASU undertakes a range of activities in wide field astronomy including: a lead role in the photometric processing for Gaia, together with other space mission projects including CHEOPS and Euclid; developing and operating pipeline processing and analysis systems for optical and near-infrared mosaic imaging surveys (e.g. VISTA, VST); spectroscopic surveys (e.g. WEAVE, 4MOST); developing pipelines tailored for the analysis of various oncological imaging data related to the IMAXT/CRUK Grand Challenge project; managing a data processing and archive centre. 

The successful candidate will work within CASU's PLATO software development team and be responsible for contributing to the development of novel scientific algorithms and applications in the areas of light curve analysis and data mining. The role will also involve: contributions to the supporting computational infrastructure, liaising with the wider PLATO project team and external science users; contributing to the documentation and user manuals; and collaborating in the PLATO and exoplanet related research programs to optimise interpretation and use of such PLATO data. 

The successful candidate will have a good practical knowledge of scientific algorithm development, particularly in Python, and a PhD degree in a numerate discipline (preferably Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science, Computer Engineering or related field). Candidates are expected to be familiar with the acquisition and reduction of data from astronomical facilities and with the use of database and web-based systems. Previous experience in large-scale exoplanet transit and/or imaging surveys is essential 

The candidate should be able to demonstrate knowledge of Python and object oriented programming, while knowledge of database systems would be advantageous.

Travel in the UK and overseas (pandemic permitting) is expected. 

Salary will be either on the Research Associate scale (grade 7, from £32,816 to £40,322)  or, for exceptional and established researchers, on the Senior Research Associate scale (grade 9, from £41,526 to £52,559).  

Starting Date: From 1st November 2021 or as early as possible thereafter.

To apply online for this vacancy and to view further information about the role, please visit :

Please submit your application by midnight of the closing date of Wednesday, 22nd  September 2021. If you have any queries about your application please contact Ms Joy McSharry (hr(at)  

Applications, including a full CV, covering letter and contact details of three referees who may be approached prior to interview should be uploaded. 

Interviews will be held 4 Oct 2021. 

Informal enquires may be made to Dr. Nicholas Walton (naw(at) 

Please quote reference LG27846 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy. 

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society. 

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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