Chief Scientist

Keck Observatory offers a competative and comprehensive salary and benefits package
April 02 2018
Other, Other
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type



W. M. Keck Observatory

The W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) is seeking a highly respected astronomer to fill the position of Chief Scientist (CS). The CS is accountable to the WMKO Director for the science stewardship of the observatory and is responsible for ensuring the health and vibrancy of science conducted. The CS serves as a key advisor to the WMKO Director on all matters of science policy and strategy.

The CS will serve as the observatory’s ambassador to the global scientific community, responsible for scientific outreach to partners, federal agencies, funders, and the WMKO user community. The CS will play a leading role in the development of scientific strategy in close collaboration with the WMKO Director and Science Steering Committee, charged with representing the science interests of the WMKO community.

Key aspects of the position:

  • Has top level leadership responsibility for the WMKO support astronomers
  • Partners with the Director to maintain and build relationships with crucial federal agencies: NASA and the NSF
  • Collaborates closely with the WMKO Science Steering Committee in developing science policy and strategy
  • Plays a lead role in the development of proposals for new instruments and instrument upgrades
  • Engages actively with donors and philanthropic foundations in support of the observatory’s Advancement program


A Ph.D. in astronomy or a closely related field is required. Experience in, and demonstrated capabilities of working within a performance oriented team environment are essential. The successful candidate will be a strategic thinker with superior communication skills, able to engage effectively with a broad cross section of the community, including NASA and NSF leadership, the scientific leadership of the observatory community, staff at WMKO, and the wider user community. The candidate must have experience in managing, motivating and developing small teams of scientists. An interest in, and ability to articulate the excitement of astronomy in an engaging way to connect with donors and philanthropic foundations are essential attributes.

Detailed understanding of the current national and international astronomical environment – the broad themes as expressed in the “New Worlds, New Horizons” Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, NSF and NASA plans and aspirations, and the capabilities and intentions of observatories worldwide would be a significant advantage. Ideally the candidate should have a deep knowledge of astronomical instrumentation for optical/infrared astronomy.

General Information:

The Chief Scientist reports to the Observatory Director, and will be a senior member of the WMKO management team. The position is resident at the W.M. Keck Observatory headquarters in Kamuela, Hawaii, with some travel to the U. S. mainland and occasional international travel required. The initial term of appointment will be for five (5) years with the possibility of renewal. Further particulars of the appointment are available on request.

Salary Range: Dependent on background and experience and to be negotiated.

Starting Date: August 2018 or sooner (or to be negotiated)


To learn more about this position and to apply, go to:

Applications (consisting of cover letter, curriculum vitae, along with three (3) professional references) for this position are due by close of business (Hawaii) April 30, 2018. Applications received on or before this date will receive full consideration.  This position is open until filled.


For questions, please contact Jeannette Mundon,  in the Human Resources Office at, telephone +1 (808) 881-3828. Hawaii Standard Time is GMT-10:00

W. M. Keck Observatory is an Equal Opportunity Employer.