Research Fellow | Physics

  • Full-time
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term
  • Campus: Auckland City Campus
  • Position Number: 55570272
  • UoA Department Name: Physics

Company Description

Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland

Ko te whare Pūtaiao/The Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland is the leading science faculty in New Zealand and one of the largest in Australasia. It undertakes world-class research across the physical, biological, and computational sciences. More than 8,000 students study in our 10 schools and departments, learning from internationally renowned lecturers.  We are striving to provide a School that reflects the demographics of our student base and Aotearoa. Our staff and students can connect with our: Rainbow and Women in Science networks, Parenting support, our Waipapa Marae and our flagship Tuākana Māori and Pacific support programme.

Auckland’s harbour setting, magnificent beaches and verdant bush make it a great place to study and work, while the University’s close proximity to New Zealand’s major businesses and hospitals enables staff and students to rub shoulders with leading practitioners in their field. Auckland offers a diverse range of employment and leisure options, including easy access to high quality schools which prepare students extremely well for the transition to university.

Job Description

Te Whiwhinga mahi | The opportunity

The Department of Physics is seeking a Research Fellow to contribute to our research into free-space optical communications and space situational awareness.

A candidate for the Research Fellow position will be expected to perform the following tasks:

  • Analysing satellite image data, and preparing international peer-reviewed journal articles presenting these results,
  • Creating a data pipeline to collect and store the images from the one or more all-sky cameras, writing or adapting existing code to estimate cloud coverage from the images, and providing time-series data of cloud cover fraction, and preparing international peer-reviewed journal articles presenting these results,
  • Writing new or adapting existing mount control software as required to optimise telescope tracking of LEO satellites,
  • Creating or adapting an existing database solution for collecting data from the Miratlas system, and preparing international peer-reviewed journal articles presenting these results.
  • Overseeing the installation of a remotely operable observatory dome, configuring the complete observatory system to be remotely operable, installing and configuring existing mount control software to enable telescope tracking of LEO satellites,
  • Performing tracking observations of Earth-orbiting satellites and collecting image data,
  • Installing one or more all-sky cameras at selected sites across New Zealand,
  • Overseeing the installation of a Miratlas Integrated Seeing Monitor and Long Wave Infra-Red all-sky camera at the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory.

Research Fellow deliverables are:  

  • Conducting research experiments in non-sidereal rate tracking of objects,
  • Developing or create new observatory control software,
  • Analysing collected data,
  • Engaging with, and where appropriate leading, the creation of research publications.
  • Installation of remotely operable telescope observatory,
  • Installation of one or more all-sky cameras,
  • Installation of Miratlas ISM and LWIR system,
  • Installation of control software for all instrumentation,
  • Enabling remote control of instrumentation,
  • Enabling data pipeline to remote instrumentation,
  • Routine and automated operation of the Miratlas ISM and LWIR camera,
  • Routine and automated operation of all-sky camera(s),
  • Maintain records of research procedures and data that can be adapted to standards suitable for publication and for sharing with collaboration partners, research participants and stakeholders,
  • Provide data when requested for group and project meetings, research presentations, grant applications and publications,
  • Contribute to the interpretation and data analysis of results/findings.

Publications, Reports and Communications:

  • Present results and discussion of work at scheduled group and project collaboration meetings,
  • Contribute to the preparation of conference presentations and publications in peer reviewed settings,
  • Maintain relationships with project team and stakeholders,
  • Liaise and work with technical and administrative staff as required.



  • PhD in Mechatronics, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Applied Physics, Experimental Physics, or similar field,
  • Full NZ Driver’s license



  • Software interface and control of remote instrumentation.


  • Optical astronomy, telescope operation, astrophotography, observatory operational concepts, optics,
  •  Image acquisition, image analysis, optics,
  • Satellite tracking, LEO object observation.

This is a fulltime (40 Hours per week), 24 month fixed term contract
Remuneration: RF1 ($86,979) 2022

For more detailed information, please refer to the Position Description.

Ngā āhuatanga kei a mātou | What we offer

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading university and maintains significant computational, laboratory and analytic facilities. Auckland itself is frequently rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities. 

The University is committed to providing an excellent working environment through:

  • Flexible employment practices (including working from home, flexible hours)
  • A competitive salary with five weeks’ annual leave

In addition, we also offer career development programmes, discounted car parking, a generous parental leave allowance, childcare, and a number of other discounts on internal and external services. 

For more information, please visit Staff Benefits.

Me pēhea te tuku tono | How to apply

Applications must be submitted online, by the closing date of 29 January 2023 to be considered. Please include your cover letter and your CV highlighting how you can meet the skills and experiences detailed above.

Please reach out to Nicholas Rattenbury via [email protected] or Catherine Qualtrough via [email protected] for a confidential conversation. Please note we are happy to answer your questions but we do not accept applications by email.

Additional Information


The University is committed to meeting its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and achieving equity outcomes for staff and students in a safe, inclusive and equitable environment.  For further information on services for Māori, Pacific, women, LGBTQITakatāpui+, people with disabilities, parenting support, flexible work and other equity issues go to

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