Director of Astronomy and Research

Yerkes Observatory
Williams Bay, Wisconsin
$150,000 per year plus generous benefits
Closing date
Feb 4, 2023
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Reports to: Deputy Director, Head of Science and Education
Salary range: $150,000 plus generous benefits
Status: TBD – while we would prefer to hire a full-time staff member, we are open to considering unique remote/on-site work arrangements that may flex seasonally, yearly, or change over time, as well as shared or joint appointments. 
Application Deadline: Review begins February 10, 2023. 



This position offers a rare opportunity for the right candidate to impact the course of public engagement with science in the United States and make their mark on one of the iconic institutions in the history of astronomy.

Founded in 1897, Yerkes Observatory is known globally as the birthplace of modern astrophysics and remains home to the world’s largest refracting telescope. The site also houses two roboticized reflecting telescopes, a glass-plate library, and outbuildings surrounded by 50 acres of grounds designed by the legendary landscape design firm Olmsted and Olmsted. Located on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin roughly an hour each from metro Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison the Observatory is within 75 miles of a population of 11.3 million potential visitors. 

In 2020, the Yerkes Future Foundation assumed long-term stewardship for preserving and restoring the Observatory from the University of Chicago and is currently leading an initial $30M campaign to restore the Observatory. 

The Yerkes Future Foundation is committed to a future where Yerkes Observatory inspires creativity through exploration, art, and a connection with the cosmos, so imagination, collaboration, and scientific curiosity thrive and transform the world. 

Our mission is to ensure Yerkes continues to advance astronomy and to transform the Observatory and its grounds into a destination for science and discovery—an experience unlike any other where science, environment, culture, arts, and curiosity cross-pollinate in novel and unique ways. 


We are seeking a Director of Astronomy and Research (DAR) to join the team. They will be responsible for advancing science and research at Yerkes by taking creative advantage of existing and future facilities at the historic site. They cultivate meaningful relationships with partner institutions and within their network. They obtain research grants as needed, envision the future for the suite of telescopes at Yerkes, and create opportunities to maximize student engagement with the astronomy and research program.


The specific job responsibilities will be shaped in part based on the skills and experience of the successful candidate and will include some combination of the following:

The DAR works to envision, lead, and execute astronomy and research at Yerkes that:

  • produces data and outcomes that meaningfully advance astronomy, 
  • maximizes the usefulness of the historic collection of 180,000 glass plate observations,
  • engages students from underrepresented backgrounds,
  • garners financial support from the NSF or other funding organizations as needed, 
  • attracts partner organizations and astronomers,
  • generates attention in the scientific field, and 
  • helps advance a public science program at Yerkes.

The telescopes and astronomy operations of Yerkes are central to the Observatory’s legacy, identity, and reputation—and remain central to its future. The DAR leads the management, operations, and execution of the overall strategy for two reflecting telescopes at Yerkes along with affiliated resources. Completed in 1967, the 24” and 41” have been recently upgraded and can be remotely operated. They are networked and connected to SkyNet for use by students and astronomers around the world. 

The DAR will participate in developing the future astronomy strategy for Yerkes, which may include construction of new astronomical facilities or renovation or expansion of the existing suite of instrumentation and telescopes. In all cases, our program should advance the candidate’s own research interests, the mission of Yerkes, and ensure the Observatory is building on our 125 year legacy of discovery and excellence.


For a complete list of job duties and candidate requirements, view the full posting at

While we would strongly prefer to hire a full-time staff member, we are open to considering unique remote/on-site work arrangements as well as shared or joint appointments. If your consideration of the role hinges on such unique arrangements, please state so clearly in your cover letter.

The Yerkes Future Foundation (YFF) is committed to advancing diversity in the sciences and in employment. YFF does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. We encourage and actively solicit applications from diverse candidates. Yerkes requires new hires to have and maintain a current Covid vaccination (including any boosters as may be recommended by the CDC) as a condition of employment.


To apply, submit a cover letter along with your CV or resume as PDF files to  Please list the position for which you are applying in the subject line of your email, and include your last name as part of each file name (eg, “Williamsresume.pdf” or “Williamscoverletter.pdf”).

Included Benefits: Yerkes offers a robust suite of benefits, including 80% employer-paid health insurance, 100% employer-paid dental and vision insurance, a 401k with a match of employee contributions up to 6% of your salary, employer-subsidized life and long-term disability insurance and access to a range of additional benefits.

Application Deadline: Friday, February 10, 2023

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