Observatory Director

Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) invites applications for the Observatory Director, who will be responsible for the scientific, operational, engineering, and financial management of the institution, including fund-raising. LCO is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in Santa Barbara, California.  

LCO is operating a global network of robotic 2-meter, 1-meter, and 0.4-meter telescopes with unique capabilities in time domain astrophysics.  Current facilities include the two 2-meter Faulkes Telescopes at Haleakala, Hawaii, and Siding Spring, Australia, ten 1-meter telescopes at five sites, and ten 0.4-meter telescopes at five sites. Six additional 1-meter telescopes are planned to complete longitudinal coverage of the northern hemisphere.  All the telescopes have CCD imagers. The 2-meter telescopes also have robotic low-resolution (FLOYDS) spectrographs.  At four sites, high-resolution (NRES) spectrographs are fed by fibers from the 1-meter telescopes.  The entire network operates as a single integrated observatory, driven by an optimum schedule generated by software at LCO headquarters in Santa Barbara, California.  Future evolution of the program will be accomplished by integration of existing larger telescopes into the LCO network to create an enhanced observing system for time domain follow-up through the LSST era. 

Scientific research is carried out by a small internal science staff and by a large global user community, including U.S. astronomers through an MSIP grant from the National Science Foundation. Active areas of scientific research include explosive transients such as supernovae, TDEs, and gravitational wave events; exoplanets; solar system objects; AGN variability; and stellar astrophysics.  In 2017, 75 papers using LCO data were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition to the core scientific goals, LCO is committed to education and outreach, primarily through partnerships with about a dozen large scale educational programs around the world. 

LCO is supported by a combination of grants from private foundations and governmental organizations, including some of its scientific partners.  Additional income comes from sales of network time for scientific research and philanthropic donations.

LCO is located in close proximity to the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.  LCO also maintains close relationships with a number of institutions worldwide, and is involved in several high-profile projects, such as NASA's TESS mission.

The Observatory Director will guide the future direction of LCO, maintaining it as a world-leading scientific institution.  This includes overseeing a series of key scientific projects with partner institutions to exploit the unique capabilities of the network, and managing a scientific, engineering, and administrative staff of approximately 45 people worldwide.  Other duties include oversight of the organization’s budget and sustained efforts to raise funding to support operations and further development.

Required qualifications:

  • A PhD in astronomy, astrophysics, or a related field;
  • Involvement in frontier scientific research;
  • A demonstrated ability to inspire and guide a team of scientists, engineers, technicians, and administrative support personnel;
  • 5 years or more of functional experience at an observatory, or other major scientific research facility;
  • Several years of program management experience, with responsibility for budget planning and administration;
  • Willingness to engage in all aspects of fund-raising and philanthropic development activities
  • A demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with other institutions.

The Observatory Director position will report to the LCO Board of Directors.  Salary will be commensurate with experience.  An attractive benefits package and relocation expenses are also offered.  

Applications complete by October 1, 2018 will receive full consideration.  The position will remain open until filled.  Please submit a letter of interest, statement of experience, curriculum vitae, and a list of at least five references (including their contact information) to directorsearch@lco.global

Confidential inquiries may be directed to the search committee members (Lars Bildsten, Chair, bildsten@kitp.ucsb.edu; Juna Kollmeier, jak@obs.carnegiescience.edu; Don Pollacco, d.pollacco@warwick.ac.uk; Rachel Street, rstreet@lco.global).
 
LCO is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. LCO is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity of our organization and the academic community.