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Jet Propulsion Laboratory Applied Sciences Systems Engineer Postdoc in Pasadena, California

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New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.

Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.

JPL is unique among NASA Centers in that its staff are Caltech employees, yet can access NASA technical resources. Cross-discipline teamwork is standard here: colleagues across JPL's science and engineering organizations and on Caltech's academic campus often work together. Learning to speak and understand other disciplines' languages is a doorway to the creativity needed to do what has not been done before. JPL staff are encouraged to create mission concepts that address humanity's core questions through a combination of science and technology. They are supported in developing ideas into proposals and hardware, and in communicating funded missions' results to the scientific community and the broader public. JPL seeks to employ scientists and engineers who are passionate about lifelong learning and excited to both contribute to and lead team efforts. We emphasize the importance of partnering across discipline boundaries and creating a friendly, constructive work environment to overcome space exploration's challenges. The Postdoctoral scholars at JPL benefit from an informal mentoring network, an annual conference showcasing their results, a dedicated seminar series, exposure to diverse career paths, and social connections across the JPL and Caltech community for advice on housing, childcare, and other aspects of living in southern California.

Future NASA missions like Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) and Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) will collect unique remote sensing observations that will provide great value to both the research and science applications communities, including terrestrial hydrology, freshwater resources management, coastal processes, and water quality. It is also anticipated that these missions will acquire and deliver data on the order of petabytes, thus driving a paradigm shift on how Earth science, applications, data archiving, and distribution is conducted. NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is in the process of moving its data to a cloud-based environment. New missions like SWOT as well as existing NASA Earth observations will be ingested and delivered exclusively using cloud storage and computing platforms, while continuing to be openly and freely accessible to data users.

The Applied Science Systems Engineering group at NASA JPL supports Earth observations research and applications users in this transition to a cloud paradigm, as they continue to advance the scientific discoveries and resource management practices. This opportunity is seeking a postdoc with a background in terrestrial hydrology, the water cycle, Earth system science, remote sensing, and a passion for connecting NASA data to science and applications communities in order to broaden the user base in support of these upcoming missions, and to make the data more accessible and meaningful in tackling applications, decision making, resource management and scientific research. This opportunity also involves advancing linkages between research and decision support, focused on water and natural resources management in California, including impacts of watershed disturbances on water quality for inland and coastal systems, drought, and climate change.

As an Applied Sciences endeavor, the candidate may also help advance integration of analysis workflows into public repositories and data systems, to increase long term accessibility of remote sensing datasets, engage with partners and data end-users to utilize datasets and platforms, cultivating communities around open science and open data, and help build literacy in using cloud-based NASA data and tools. Experience with SWOT mission data, terrestrial hydrology, aquatic and/or terrestrial remote sensing, watershed modeling, in-situ datasets and geospatial analysis is highly desired. The successful candidate should have data analysis skills, in languages like Python, tools like Jupyter notebooks, and platforms like GIS, a familiarity with cloud computing, as well as be a good communicator to both internal and external audiences. The candidate should have a good understanding of Earth Observations data, formats, and applications. Interest in environmental decision-making and supporting partners in use of Earth Observations is highly encouraged.

This position is very interdisciplinary in nature, and will be supported jointly by two JPL advisers from the Instrument Software and Science Data Systems section (Applied Science Systems Engineering group) and the Earth Science section (Terrestrial Hydrology group).

The appointee will carry out research in collaboration with the JPL advisor Dr. Catalina M. Oaida, resulting in publications in the open literature.

Applicants may be subject to additional program requirements by NASA. Postdoctoral Scholar positions are awarded for a minimum of one-year period and may be renewed up to a maximum of three years. Candidates should submit the following to this site: CV, representative publications, contact information for three references, and a cover letter stating their research accomplishments and interests.

JPL is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, pregnancy or perceived pregnancy, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, protected military or veteran status or any other characteristic or condition protected by Federal, state or local law.

In addition, JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

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The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federal facility. Due to rules imposed by NASA, JPL will not accept applications from citizens of designated countries or those born in a designated country unless they are Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S or have other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). The Designated Countries List is available here. (