Research Physical Scientist - Atmospheric Measurements - Lightning Instrument Development

Huntsville, Alabama (US)
GS14 pay scale
Sep 03, 2020
Oct 03, 2020
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NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is a world leader in atmospheric electricity research, with a multi-decade history of developing and deploying a variety of ground-based, airborne, and spaceborne atmospheric electricity instruments, such as the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). MSFC also has performed groundbreaking research on many topics, including but not limited to thunderstorm electrification and lightning within severe weather, lightning’s impact on atmospheric composition, variability of the global electric circuit, the production of transient luminous events (TLEs) in the upper atmosphere, physical relationships between optical and radio-frequency (RF) emissions by lightning, and calibration/validation of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM).
This position supports MSFC activities in atmospheric electricity research by recruiting a Research Physical Scientist (Atmospheric Measurements) with emphasis on lightning instrument development and supporting research to join the Earth Science Branch part of the Science Research and Projects Division (SRPD) and Science and Technology Office (STO).  The ideal candidate will specialize in developing future ground-based, airborne, and/or spaceborne instrumentation focused on remote sensing of atmospheric electricity, lightning, calibration and validation, and quality control.  They will lead innovative research in atmospheric electricity to broaden community understanding of lightning and related physical processes. 
In their role as a Research Physical Scientist, the selected candidate will develop lightning instrumentation using optical and/or radio-frequency approaches for ground-based, airborne, and spaceborne missions to extend current and planned observing objectives supporting NASA’s interests in Earth science.  They will develop and evaluate novel methods to measure atmospheric electricity and lightning, calibrate and validate instrumentation, and collect data necessary to characterize and support theories for advanced remote sensing techniques.  They will also participate in and leader field campaigns to support instrumentation evaluation, calibration, and validation, along with dissemination of relevant data and research results.  
They will lead independent and collaborative research with Branch colleagues, NASA partners, and the scientific community to discover, disseminate, and apply new knowledge in atmospheric electricity to advance our understanding of physical processes.  They will have an opportunity to formulate and lead competed proposals for new research activities and execute funded projects in collaboration with the atmospheric science community, sharing accomplishments in relevant conferences, symposia, and peer-reviewed literature.  
As a NASA scientist, they will also participate in community service activities through active participation in professional societies, review panels, and internal teams supporting organizational activities benefitting MSFC and NASA.

Successful candidates will have demonstrated their:

  • professional expertise gained through hands-on work in the design, development, and implementation of unique and novel ground-based, airborne, and/or spaceborne instrumentation for multiple projects focused on the remote sensing of atmospheric electricity and related physical processes, and 
  • success in personal leadership of innovative research ideas through a sustained series of peer-reviewed research results shared published by impactful journals, and the candidate’s ability to pursue independent and collaborative research or technology development proposals.

The formal announcement of the opportunity and related requirements will be posted in the near future at USAJobs ( and can be found by searching with keyword NASA and the location of Huntsville, Alabama.  Applications are only accepted through the USAJobs portal.  Candidates are encouraged to create a USAJobs profile well in advance to populate their resume and may also subscribe to USAJobs alerts received via email.

Marshall’s Earth Science Branch consists of 26 federal employees and over 100 contractors supporting a broad range of Earth Science activities including new and growing activities in data science, capacity building efforts to help developing countries with incorporation of Earth observations through the SERVIR Coordination Office, research to operational weather forecasting impacts through NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center, innovative approaches and studies employing passive microwave and related observations for global oceanographic and precipitation process studies, and the use of NASA tools to support response to natural hazards or disasters.  Employees have opportunities work collaboratively with local university partners and participants in NASA’s Postdoctoral Program.  
The city of Huntsville, Alabama is a vibrant and diverse metropolitan area in North Alabama, consistently named as one of the nation’s best in terms of innovation, job opportunities, quality of life, and economic development.  For more information about our community, visit the Huntsville and Madison County area Chamber of Commerce: