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Computational Specialist – Applications Closed

Deadline: 11:59pm, February 17, 2021

The Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois is looking for a motivated Computational Specialist who will actively engage in and support the computational research activities carried out in the center. The position will be at the level of a junior staff scientist; the appointment will initially be for 2 years, and it is renewable long term. Preferred start date is April 1, 2021 or earlier.

CIERA’s Computational Specialist is responsible for supporting the scientific computing needs of CIERA researchers, to further the scientific goals of the center. This includes the following duties:

  • Interface with Northwestern IT as needed, submitting tickets in support of CIERA projects, particularly related to University-maintained HPC resources.
  • Guide and advise graduate students and postdoctoral scholars as needed on coding, HPC tools and code development, and other computational skills as necessary for them to develop, run, and maintain their own code in support of their research.
  • Create and maintain relevant scientific code and workflow documentation, selectively
  • Participate as a technical expert in design, development, optimization, coding, testing, and/or debugging of major new software and/or significant enhancements to existing software which may include applications over multiple platforms.
  • Create and provide software tutorials to students and postdocs on topics ranging from Python/C/C++ to GitHub and Continuous Integration.
  • Research new technologies to enhance existing or build new software solutions.
  • Support the deployment of virtual machines which run web-apps and house databases.
  • Design databases and data structures.
  • Assist in estimating and planning for future development work and provide recommendations for future growth.
  • Advise PIs and their teams on what hardware/workstations may be best to support their computational needs, if University HPC resources are not applicable.
  • Other tasks as assigned.

The Computational Specialist will work with multiple faculty on projects, providing computational expertise as needed. It is expected that they will work on 2-3 projects at a time, typically with durations of 1-2 weeks each.

  • Languages: Python, IDL, SQL (optional), HTML/CSS/Javascript (optional), C/C++ (if not all, willingness to learn)
  • Computer modeling, computational algorithms for data analysis, and/or simulations
  • HPC code development, including familiarity with GPUs (or willingness to learn)
  • 4-year degree or higher in astronomy, physics, computer science, or related field, or equivalent experience.
  • 4 years experience in scientific computing and code development (grad school years count toward this if relevant)
  • 2 years experience working with HPC computing (grad school years count toward this if relevant)

Please submit applications electronically. Applications should include a cover letter, a CV, and arrange for at least two letters of recommendation to be uploaded to Academic Jobs Online: All questions should be sent by email to Applications received by February 17, 2021 will receive full consideration. Later applications will be considered until the  position is filled.


CIERA is committed to creating a welcoming, safe, and inclusive community for everyone. Every person connected to CIERA, including its visitors, upholds our shared values by seeking diverse perspectives and deliberately working to increase access and equity of people from marginalized groups. We recognize that true excellence only comes from the meaningful integration of all perspectives in our community and culture. CIERA also participates with University-wide diversity & inclusion efforts: Northwestern’s Leadership CommitmentNorthwestern’s Office of Equity.

Northwestern University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and does not discriminate against qualified individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected class. Individuals from all diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.  For more information, please see the University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment at

Included Benefits: