For the past 50 years the prestigious Plaskett Fellowship has been awarded to an outstanding, recent doctoral graduate in astrophysics or a closely related discipline. Fellows conduct independent research in a stimulating, collegial environment as part of NRC's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, physically located at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria, BC, Canada.
NRC research centre staff are experts in observational astrophysics, but we welcome applications from theoreticians whose research requires or benefits from close interaction with observers. Each selected fellow will be offered a limited-term appointment to the staff of research centre for a period of 2 years; the award may be extended subject to performance and availability of funds. Up to 3 Plaskett Fellows are working at the NRC in any given year and competitions are held regularly to maintain their number.
The Plaskett Fellowship offers a highly competitive salary and benefits package. Deadline for applications is November 16, 2020. The 2020 Plaskett Fellow will be announced in spring 2021.
Fellows are expected to undertake cutting-edge, independent research programs in astronomy. Fellows are welcome to become involved in projects of mutual interest with any of the diverse activities underway at the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre that they feel will further their career goals. This can include collaboration with industry and other partners on major instrumentation development projects such as for ALMA, CFHT, Gemini, JWST, the Mauna Kea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The close proximity to the University of Victoria (about 20 minutes driving distance) facilitates significant interaction between our respective astronomers.
Every effort is made to ensure that Plaskett Fellows have the opportunity to present their work at national and international meetings (1 to 2 per year) and to enable travel to telescopes on which they have been awarded observing time. The budget for science travel is allocated by a small committee that includes one Fellow.
The scientific atmosphere at the NRC is vibrant and collegial with staff ranging from recent hires to researchers emeritus. The NRC frequently organizes meetings relevant to Canada's international partnerships. Each week a regular colloquium series has visiting speakers and an informal, internal science forum showcases visiting and local speakers. Groups interested in adaptive optics, extragalactic topics, and planetary systems also meet on a semi-regular basis. The Fellows organize the colloquium series, and an occasional open house for area graduate students.
Fellows are also eligible to mentor undergraduate or graduate students and are encouraged to participate in outreach programs within the community. This can include presentations and tours to visiting groups at DAO, visits or lectures to local schools, museums, or astronomy enthusiast clubs, and interactions with local and national news media in their areas of scientific expertise. Many are volunteers in B.C.'s Scientists and Innovators in the Schools (SIS) program.
Fellows work out of the historic DAO, alongside over 100 resident work staff, visiting researchers from around the world, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. Machine shops, integration and testing areas, and a sub-millimetre laboratory support our instrumentation work.
Appointees are eligible to apply for Canadian time on Canada-France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), Gemini Observatory, and for ALMA time through that facility's North American share, to use the optical and radio telescopes operated by DAO and the NRC's Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) outside Penticton, BC. They may also apply for time on other facilities with open proposal processes.
Other facilities available to Plaskett fellows include professionally managed computers and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC), which manages over a petabyte of astronomical observational data from a diverse array of facilities and the computing capacity needed to extract cutting-edge science results from those data. CADC also operates the Canadian Virtual Observatory and manages the CANFAR cloud computing network.
Services and support
The Observatory science budget covers each staff member's share of page charges in refereed journals. Plaskett Fellows enjoy access to extensive electronic library holdings, including electronic versions of the major journals of astronomy and astrophysics. This virtual library service is operated by Canada's National Science Library. An excellent, service-oriented team provides staff with assistance for human resource issues, purchasing, and other administrative activities.
We make it a priority to ensure that each Plaskett Fellow has access to the computer systems needed to ensure their optimal productivity, including a high-performance desktop system, access to a Gigabit network and a network of IT support staff. Fellows also have access to the CADC archive and CANFAR's cloud computing infrastructure and cloud storage which provides 1000s of cores and 100s of terabytes of computing and storage capacity to its users.
Applicants must have received their Ph.D. no more than 5 years before assuming the Fellowship. Doctoral candidates who will complete all requirements for their Ph.D. within 6 months of assuming the Fellowship may also be considered.
The Plaskett Fellowship is open to nationals of all countries, although preference will be given to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
The NRC values diversity in our workforce and as such we encourage candidates to self-identify as members of the following designated groups: women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
We are currently seeking candidates for the 2020 Plaskett Fellowship.
For more information please contact: NRC.NRCHiring-EmbaucheCNRC.CNRC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca