FCAD Teaching and Research Postdoctoral Fellow


Ad posted in the Job Register: The Five College Astronomy Department (FCAD) at Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, and Mount Holyoke Colleges and the University of Massachusetts invites applications for a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship, with the possibility of a 3rd year, beginning in Fall 2014. The fellowship, which will be hosted by Smith College in Northampton, MA, combines opportunities for education and individual research in a unique and stimulating academic environment.

The educational component will consist of teaching classes in observational techniques to undergraduates, including leading a one-week observing trip to a small telescope in the southwest. Ideally the Fellow will design an observing project based on imaging with a meter-class telescope that will be incorporated into a research methods class for undergraduates. The Fellow is also expected to conduct a strong research program that is synergistic with existing research in the FCAD and that has a potential for undergraduate contributions. Applicants will have the opportunity to participate in science projects with the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico.

Candidates must hold a Ph.D. in astronomy. Starting salary will be $53,000 plus full benefits, plus a small annual research budget.

Submit application at http://apply.interfolio.com/22763 with (1) a cover letter; (2) a curriculum vitae; (3) a statement of research goals and a proposal for a research project that would be conducted in collaboration or close contact with an astronomer from the FCAD; (4) a statement of educational goals, including an indication of what you would offer to a new course in research methods for undergraduates that incorporates a trip to a small telescope; and (5) 3 confidential letters of recommendation. Review of applications will begin December 15, 2013. 

Smith College is an equal opportunity employer encouraging excellence through diversity.

More about the position: For more than a decade the FCAD has run a successful program for Education/Research Postdoctoral Fellows who combine innovative educational experiences for undergraduates with the pursuit of individual research in a rich academic and research environment. The program is undergoing a change beginning in 2014, where the educational emphasis will be on teaching observational techniques to undergraduate majors. A key component of the program will be a partnership with the WIYN consortium, where we will puchase some telescope time on the WIYN 0.9 m specifically allocated for undergraduate projects.

The Fellow's educational responsibilities will be as follows:

Fall semesters: Fellow will either team-teach (Fall 2014) or assume full responsibility for (Fall 2015,2016) the undergraduate course AST 337, Observational Techniques in Astronomy. The course is taught with the telescopes of the McConnell Rooftop Observatory at Smith College. It meets once a week in the evenings, with typical enrollments of 10 students.

Spring semesters: The Fellow will lead a 7-8 night observing run at the WIYN 0.9m telescope at KPNO, probably in January, before the academic term starts. There will be two groups of students that come observing with the Fellow plus one or two faculty members. One group will be students (4-5 nights) who have completed AST 337 and thus are knowledgeable about image acquisition and processing. Each student will sign up for a half-course (2 credits) that will continue, under the Fellow's supervision, during the spring term with the goal of reducing their data and bringing it to a scientific conclusion. The second group will be younger astronomy majors (2-3 nights) who will not know much about observing techniques in advance of their site visit. This group might receive one academic credit, but there will be no further commitment beyond the trip to the telescope, except to complete an astronomy major.

Continuously: The Fellow will carry out individual research during the academic year and summers. The Fellow will have two offices, one at Smith College and one at the University of Massachusetts. The university department is a lively research environment, including faculty, graduate students and other postdoctoral fellows.