Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy - Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS)

The California Institute of Technology is seeking to hire a postdoc in the area of astronomical instrumentation to participate in the development of the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS). The postdoc will participate in modeling, development, and commissioning for the PFS. The primary tasks will be the optimization of observing procedures within the constraints of the performance of the hardware. As such, the ideal candidate will have strong instrumentation skills. Experience in working with optical hardware is highly desired.

The PFS instrument is a fiber-fed spectrograph at the prime focus of the 8-m Subaru telescope, with 2400 fibers feeding 4 identical spectrographs, each with 3 arms separated by dichroics, covering the wavelength range 0.38 to 1.3 microns. The PFS survey consists of 360 nights on the 8-m Subaru telescope over five years following commissioning in 2020. Its main themes are cosmology, galaxy evolution at intermediate redshifts, and galactic archaeology. The partners in the construction include JPL/Caltech, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, LAM (Marseille), IPMU/Japan, USP/LNA (Brazil), the Subaru Observatory, Academia Sinica (Taiwan), MPIA and MPE (Germany), and a consortium of Chinese universities. A summary of the PFS project can be found in:

The work will focus on the evaluation and optimization of observing procedures. Relevant questions include (a) what is an appropriate tolerance for the positioning of the fibers, which is some compromise between desire for perfection and what can be achieved quickly, (b) how to optimize the choice of targets from a long list of potential targets so as to minimize the time for setups and maximize the number of fibers that actually have targets, and (c) how to optimize re-targeting of bright objects within a single pointing to achieve a threshold signal-to-noise ratio for as many targets as possible.

Applicants should have a PhD in astronomy, physics, or a closely related field. The position is for a term of 2 years, renewable for a third year assuming satisfactory performance. The postdoc will become a member of the PFS team at the completion of employment, assuming satisfactory performance.

Applicants should send a CV, publications list, and a statement of research interests to Judith Cohen (, and arrange for 3 letters of reference.  Applications received by Dec. 15, 2017 will receive full consideration, but review of the applications will continue until the position is filled.