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Job Title:
Astrophysicist (Artificial Intelligence), GS-1330, Grade 14; $130,929 - $170,205 per year
Type of Position:
Federal Career Conditional
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all qualified U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals.


An Astrophysicist with expertise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will lead a forefront scientific research program within the broad areas of astronomy and astrophysics made possible by advances in machine learning (ML) and other AI methods.  


  1. Formulate and execute independent, original scientific research that focuses on the development and application of machine learning and other AI methods to astronomy, astrophysical phenomena, and cosmology that aligns with the strategic interests of SAO. Performs analysis that is creative, definitive, and thorough.
  2. Prepare peer-reviewed publications describing research results, techniques, and interpretations for publication in peer-reviewed scientific or technical journals, and presentation at scientific or technical meetings and conferences, and within the CfA.
  3. Propose for extramural contract and grant support for research in specific areas of astronomy, astrophysics or related fields, including but not limited to, machine learning and other AI methods, data science, and/or data analytics, typically applied to the analysis and interpretation of very large datasets.
  4. Serve in a leadership role in the development of major new scientific initiatives for SAO relevant to the successful candidate’s expertise and skills.
  5. Engage in education activities to train the next generation of scientists in astronomy and astrophysics by leading a research team that is diverse and inclusive, and providing mentorship and supervision.
  6. Engage in outreach activities to share AI research and AI-based astronomical discoveries with the broader public through traditional and non-traditional media.


Minimum Education Requirements:
A) Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science or electronics, including course work in differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy or physics;  OR

B) A combination of education and experience equivalent to A above including at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, mathematics, and electronics with required course work as shown in A above.  

Specialized Experience: One year of directly related experience (Federal or other) equivalent to GS-13. Specialized experience would include activities such as formulating and conducting leading independent and original astrophysical research related to machine learning and other Artificial Intelligence methods related to astronomy,  presenting the results of research through peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and engagingin education activities to train the next generation of scientists in astronomy and astrophysics, etc. 

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

There is no education substitution for this position.

Qualifications must be met by the closing date of the announcement. 

Special Instructions for Foreign Education: If you are qualifying by education and/or you have education completed in a foreign college/university described above, it is your responsibility to provide transcripts and proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study. For instructions on where to fax these documents, see the "Required Documents" section of this announcement.

Important Note:

The review of your resume will determine your final rating and should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications online for this position. To view the complete vacancy posting, requirements and the procedures to apply, please visit: USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website