Research Fellow - Lead Technician

Amherst, Massachusetts
Apr 22, 2021
May 22, 2021
Job no: 507865
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.

Job Summary:

NASA, together with the space agencies of France, the UK, and Canada, is launching the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite to provide transformational data to the ocean science and hydrology communities. These novel data must be verified to ensure the instrument is working as intended, and additional ground-based data are needed to help calibrate the satellite throughout the mission lifetime. This process is known as calibration and validation, or cal/val. Cal/val preparation for SWOT has been underway for half a decade, and the SWOT cal/val team is well prepared for launch in 2022. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a lead institution for cal/val for inland waters (lakes and rivers) in the US, and in essence we will lead the fieldwork operations for this launch in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Colorado Boulder, and Brown University. The cal/val team includes academic faculty, NASA engineers, field technicians, temporary field workers, and graduate students.

The Lead Technician will be responsible for planning, collecting, and processing field measurements made in service of SWOT cal/val.

Job Description:

  • Train other technicians and graduate students on measurement and data processing techniques (the Lead Technician will be themselves trained first)
  • Maintain working knowledge of all field instruments
  • Lead logistics planning (transportation, lodging, shipping, personnel, measurements, data management) across the entire US cal/val team
  • Coordinate data processing across all cal/val sites, design and maintain data archival across all cal/val activities, and lead data processing for select sites
  • Collect field data at select cal/val sites.
  • Collate and present weekly progress reports on cal/val across the entire cal/val team
  • Serve as point of contact for all fieldwork communication internal to the cal/val team
  • Serve as point of contact for local partner institutions external to the cal/val team
  • Oversee health and safety protocols


  • A Master’s Degree in Geoscience or related field –OR – a Bachelor’s Degree + 2 years of related leadership experience
  • Demonstrated excellence in at least two of the following four areas: hydrologic fieldwork, GNSS data collection and processing, logistics coordination, development of automated field data processing software
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently within a larger team structure

The following technical skills are beneficial, but all are not required:

  • Experience in GNSS measurement and processing
  • Experience in ADCP use and processing
  • Experience in surveying
  • Experience in team building, coordination, and management
  • Experience in working internationally
  • Experience in remote-area fieldwork, logistics, and safety
  • Swiftwater rescue certification
  • Wilderness First Responder certification
  • Experience in summertime Arctic and sub-Arctic fieldwork

Additional Information:

  • This is an eight-month, term limited position.  Continuation of the position is contingent upon funding.
  • The position involves significant domestic and international travel (3-8 months per year after the initial eight-month phase).
  • The Lead Technician will directly supervise another UMass technician (to be hired in summer 2022).
  • The Lead Technician will directly supervise other technicians and graduate students while in the field.
  • The Lead Technician will maintain knowledge of coordinated activities for technicians/students at other universities, but will not directly supervise these personnel when not in the field.  We anticipate hiring a total of three additional technicians, two additional temporary field workers, and graduate student across all partner institutions.
  • Start date: immediate

Application Instructions:

Please include with you application a cover letter, CV, and contact information of three (3) professional references. To ensure consideration, applicants must apply by the priority deadline of May 10, 2021. Applications may be accepted after the priority date until a suitable candidate pool has been identified.


UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.