Advert. no. 2018_0005
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.


ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.


At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its Directorate for Science at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is seeking a

European ALMA Programme Scientist


Vacancy closed on 31/03/2018

Deadline 31/03/2018

The European ALMA Programme Scientist serves as the primary contact between the ALMA Observatory, the European ALMA Support Centre and the European astronomical community with respect to the scientific capabilities, mission and exploitation of the ALMA facility. S/he is responsible for ensuring that the European share of the observatory and its future development will enable ALMA to meet the scientific requirements. S/he monitors the scientific performance of ALMA operations and its compliance to what is required to carry out forefront science.

S/he fosters high-level participation of the community to identify emergent areas of astronomical research and help promote their rapid development. This includes identifying strategies for the best scientific use through the development plan.

Together with the ALMA Observatory Scientist, the North American and EA Programme Scientists, s/he:

  • is a member of the Integrated Science Team (see ALMA Management);
  • helps to set scientific requirements and specifications for ALMA;
  • reviews and monitors compliance with the scientific requirements and technical specifications in the various discipline areas.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Foster a high level of participation by the ALMA community;
  • Organise workshops and community days, support the European ALMA Regional Centre activities in disseminating information on ALMA and present ALMA in talks at conferences/institutes;
  • Provide scientific guidance to ALMA operations in Europe through the European ALMA Support Centre (ESAC) in coordination with the ALMA partners. Keep ALMA a prime ESO project;
  • Participate in the management of the EASC as a member of its management team, maintain scientific coordination on the development plan with the other ALMA partners, cultivate the strong relationship with the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) necessary to influence its activities and priorities, and provide high-level European input to the scientific priorities of the ALMA development plan;
  • Support the Head of EASC to ensure that the ALMA operations are efficient and satisfy the needs of the ESO scientific community;
  • Contribute to the development of the overall EASC policy, support the definition and execution of ESO internal ALMA Development projects;
  • Organise the European Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) and its meetings. ESAC is a sub-committee of ESO's Science and Technology Committee (STC), advising the ESO Council and ESO Director Genera. Organise regular ESAC teleconferences, as needed, ensuring ESAC face-to-face meetings are as effective as possible, delivering necessary documentation on time ahead of the meetings and contributing to the STC meetings;
  • Support the European members of ALMA Science Advisory Committee (ASAC), and support the STC as needed by the Director for Science;
  • Coordinate the ALMA Project Scientist at ESO, according to ESO's scientific priorities;
  • Ensure optimal communication between the ALMA Project Scientist and all programme/project stakeholders;
  • Play an active role in ESO and the Directorate for Science (DSC), mentoring the Students and Fellows and helping provide an environment in which science and scientists can thrive; attend regularly and actively participate in various science meetings and in DSC group meetings.

As a member of the ESO Science Faculty, the European ALMA Programme Scientist is expected and encouraged to conduct (and pursue funding resources for) a world class research programme and foster collaborations within the Munich broader research area.

Reports to:

Director for Science, in coordination with the Head of the European ALMA Support Centre.


  • At least ten years of experience as project scientist, project lead or equivalent within sub-mm scientific programmes or projects;
  • Extensive experience in community liaison and/or community leadership;
  • Several years of contributions to facility oversight and/or advisory structures;
  • A strong record of personal research, demonstrating international recognition in sub-mm related research.

Key Competencies:

  • Outstanding scientific record, based on an extensive use of sub-mm resources, allowing him/her to develop and formulate a scientific vision for ALMA;
  • Excellent leadership qualities, inspiring the community and ALMA Partners to support ALMA as a prime astronomical facility;
  • Outstanding teamwork skills allowing him/her to work closely with the key stakeholders across the ALMA programme (in particular with the other ALMA Programme Scientists, the oversight and advisory committees, as well as the ESO and JAO leadership) and with the other ESO Programme Scientists for the greater good (and interaction) of ESO facilities;
  • Outstanding communication and diplomatic skills, allowing to effectively communicate at all levels within the ALMA partnership and with the community.


Ph.D. in astronomy, physics or equivalent.

Language skills:

The position requires an excellent command of the English language. Additional knowledge of Spanish and/or other European languages would be an advantage.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (income-tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in day-care.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There is a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit:

Starting Date:

As soon as possible

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany

Career Path: VI


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit ( for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter, CV containing a publication list with a research statement. Also required are the names and contact details of three scientists familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter. Referees will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter. However, applicants are strongly advised to trigger these invitations (using the web application form) well in advance of the application deadline.

Closing date for applications is 31 March 2018

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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