Research Associate in Instrument Development – Cardiff

Research Associate in Instrument Development

Simons Observatory



Research Associate in Instrument Development

Simons Observatory, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Employer Description

The Simons Observatory (SO) is an $80 million dollar project supported by the Simons Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and member organizations, dedicated to understanding how the universe originated and evolved over the past 13.8 billion years. The SO project began in 2016 and is comprised of the design and deployment of four special-purpose telescopes, a high-altitude site, and cryogenic detectors. The SO will collect a comprehensive range of data spanning angular scales from one arcminute to nearly 70% of the sky visible from its site in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, at an altitude of 5200 meters (17,200 feet) above sea level.

The SO is comprised of over 40 institutions world-wide with over 300 participating members, representing scientific/academic/educational personnel, engineers, managers, and other parties. Upon completion, SO will be the largest, most ambitious observatory of its kind designed to probe the composition and evolution of the entire universe. The Simons Observatory Project Office at UC San Diego is responsible for the construction and operation of the Simons Observatory.

Job Description

The Astronomy Instrumentation Group at Cardiff University is seeking applications to fill the position of Postdoctoral Research Associate. 

The research associate will work with a team of researchers developing instrumentation for current and future Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) experiments, including the Simons Observatory, CMB-S4, and the LiteBIRD satellite mission.

This research will cover significant aspects of the design, integration and testing of large ground-based CMB instruments, through to the design, development and qualification of critical optical components for future satellite missions.

There will be a particular focus on the development of additional receivers and optics tubes for the Simons Observatory.

The research associate will work within the active and diverse Astronomy Instrumentation Group (AIG) at Cardiff. The AIG has a rich heritage in the field of mm and submm instrumentation, making significant contributions to many high-profile ground, balloon and space-based experiments. 

The research associate will also work in collaboration with colleagues from our industrial partners, QMC Instruments Ltd and Sequestim Ltd, with a view to identifying commercial applications for the research. 

Applicants are strongly advised to contact the PI Prof Peter Hargrave ahead of application and we reserve the right to close this application early.

Informal enquiries about the role can be made by emailing Prof Peter Hargrave ([email protected]). Informal enquiries about working at Cardiff University can be made to Helen James ([email protected]).

The STFC/UKRI funded activity will span 3 years and will start from March 2023. 

Salary: £35,333 – £42,155 per annum (Grade 6)


Main function
To conduct research within the field of instrument development for astrophysics experiments and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University, carrying out research leading to the publishing of high-quality research. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same. 

Main Duties and Responsibilities


  • To conduct research within the field of instrument development for astrophysics applications and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs, including bidding for funding, publishing in appropriate academic journals and conferences, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students
  • To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals
  • To attend and or present at conferences/seminars and project meetings at a local, national and international level as required
  • To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research project, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting
  • To prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate
  • To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field
  • To participate in School research activities
  • To build and create networks both internally and externally to the university, to influence decisions, explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects


  • To ensure that an understanding of the importance of confidentiality is applied when undertaking all duties
  • To ensure compliance with School and University Health and Safety and Equality and Diversity requirements
  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate the role and which will enhance performance
  • To perform other duties occasionally which are not included above, but which will be consistent with the role
  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role

To apply online please visit

Job Reference: 16054BR

Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received.

Cardiff University and the School of Physics and Astronomy are committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity. Our inclusive environment welcomes applications from talented people from diverse backgrounds. We strongly welcome female applicants and those from any ethnic minority group, as they are underrepresented in our School. The School of Physics & Astronomy has a Juno Practitioner accreditation that recognises good employment practice and a commitment to develop the careers of women working in science. The University is committed to ensuring that we sustain a positive working environment for all staff to flourish and achieve. As part of this commitment, the University has developed a flexible and responsive framework of procedures to support staff in managing their work and personal commitments wherever possible. Applications are welcome from individuals who wish to work part-time or full time.

Cardiff University is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions we will evaluate applicants on the quality of their research, not publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which the research is published. More information is available at:  Responsible research assessment – Research – Cardiff University

Job Requirements

Essential Criteria

Qualifications and Education
1.   Postgraduate degree at PhD level (or nearing completion / submission) in a related subject area or relevant industrial experience

Knowledge, Skills and Experience
2.    An established expertise and proven portfolio of research and/or relevant industrial experience within a subset of the following research fields:
a.    Design and simulation of instruments and experiments for IR/FIR/Sub-mm applications
b.    Experience in instrument assembly and integration.
c.    Experience in instrument testing at cryogenic temperatures.
d.    Experience in analysing and exploiting experimental data. 

3.    Knowledge of the current status of research in mm/submm wave instrument technology for astrophysics applications.

4.    Proven ability to publish in appropriate journals, conferences, or other research outlets.

5.    Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies.

Communication and Team Working
6.    Proven ability in effective and persuasive communication.

7.    Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals.

8.    Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work.

9.    Proven ability to work without close supervision.

10.    Proven ability to develop and rigorously document new processes, and to implement process control.

Desirable Criteria

11.    Experience of the following;
a.    Design and build of instruments for cosmic microwave background experiments
b.    Design and simulation of optical systems at RF frequencies.
c.    Knowledge and understanding of cleanroom fabrication techniques.
d.    Design and simulation of microwave components using electromagnetic simulation packages (e.g. Sonnet, Ansoft HFSS, ADS)

12.    Evidence of collaborations with industry.

13.     Evidence of commitment to public engagement. 

14.    Evidence of ability to participate in and develop both internal and external networks and utilize them to enhance the research activities of the School.


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