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Job Title:
Physicist (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow), IS-1310-Grade 11; $81,963 - $106,549 per year
Type of Position:
Trust Fund Temporary - Not To Exceed Two Years With The Possibility Of Extension For A Third Year.
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: Open to all qualified candidates.


Note:   First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening of this vacancy.


INTRODUCTIONSAO is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. Its programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch and use in large ground-based facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support. Government funds are in the form of Federal appropriations or the form of contracts and grants from other agencies. In contrast, Institution funds are available to SAO through grants from the Institution's Restricted Funds, Special Purpose Funds, Bureau Activities, Business Activities, and non-Federal contracts and grants. 


PURPOSE OF THE POSITIONThis is the position of Physicist (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow) in the Atomic and Molecular Physics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of this position is to train postdoctoral researchers to conceive, plan, and conduct highly specialized research in the incumbent’s area of specialization. The incumbent will be expected to perform scholarly research and contribute to the fields of physical science.


Summary: The Post-Doctoral Research Fellow will perform research on known and postulated molecules of astronomical, astrophysical, and/or atmospheric interest using rotational spectroscopy. The Post-Doctoral Research Fellow will be part of a research group working primarily at the nexus of chemistry, molecular physics, and observational radio astronomy to understand the extent of the chemical bond and organic chemistry in the interstellar medium.




  1. Laboratory experiments at centimeter wavelengths using Fourier transform microwave techniques.
  2. Perform spectroscopic analysis to identify and characterize new reactive molecules.
  3. Participate in an integrated experimental, theoretical, and astronomical effort to understand interstellar aromatic chemistry.
  4. Prepare refereed publications and present talks at professional meetings.
  5. Perform other duties as may be required.



All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements

  1. Degree: physics or related degree that included at least 24 semester hours in physics; 


B. Combination of education and experience -- courses equivalent to a major in physics totaling at least 24 semester hours, plus appropriate experience or additional education. In either A or B above, the courses must have included a fundamental course in general physics and, in addition, courses in any two of the following: electricity and magnetism, heat, light, mechanics, modern physics, and sound.

In addition to Basic Requirements above, you must have: 

a) One year of specialized experience equivalent to difficulty and responsibility to grade 9 level work in the Federal government.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as those duties listed above. 

b) Education for Grade 11: Master's or equivalent graduate degree
c) Combinations of successfully completed graduate-level education and specialized experience may be used to meet total experience requirements.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions at the web at


Required Documents: To receive consideration, applicants must submit the following:

  • Resume/CV
  • School Transcript, if using education to qualify for the position


Application Procedures:  We are only accepting applications online for this position. To apply, please visit:    Smithsonian Institution Job Opportunities Site 

Conditions of Employment: 

  • Successful completion of a pre-employment background investigation.                                                                  
  • A one-year probationary period is required.      


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


The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact the Human Resources Specialist listed. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds supports and enhances our daily work life and contributes to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. For more information on the Smithsonian EEO program please see

Visit the SAO website at

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

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