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Gravitational-Wave Experimental Physicist

California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, US
Salary starting at $80,000 + benefits
Posting live until
2 Dec 2022

Job Details

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Experimental Physicist to join its team working at the design, construction and operation of world-leading gravitational-wave interferometric detectors.

LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to observing the newly discovered gravitational-wave universe. Jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LIGO Laboratory operates world-leading observatories near Richland, WA and Baton Rouge, LA as well as R&D centers on the Caltech and MIT campuses. The LIGO Laboratory’s mission spans a broad and vibrant array of activities related to gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, including detector operations, R&D toward detector improvements, gravitational-wave astrophysics, observatory operations, and education and public outreach. For more information, please visit the Laboratory website: LIGO's Website

As an Experimental Physicist in the LIGO Laboratory, you will have the opportunity to apply your skills to the design and implementation of technologies that increase the LIGO detector sensitivity and astrophysical reach, and to the development of the future interferometric detectors of the next decades. This is a highly multidisciplinary activity and your interests and passions will play a role in defining which research aspect you will focus primarily on. You will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge to many different parts and aspects of the current and future LIGO detectors, and there will be many opportunities to develop new skills and expertise.

This position is located in Pasadena, California.

Caltech and LIGO Laboratory’s goal is to build a world-class, diverse workforce and support an inclusive environment that encourages professional development and offers top-notch benefits. Our talented staff, who work at the Caltech campus, or one of our Observatories, come from a variety of fields. Positions include scientists, engineers, information technology staff, outreach professionals, managers, writers, business professionals, and administrative staff. We are deeply committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply for these opportunities. Our experience has demonstrated that the broader the styles, characteristics, backgrounds, and abilities of our staff—in other words, the more diverse our team is—the greater potential we have for success. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer. LIGO Laboratory is committed to being a welcoming place for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status.

Essential Job Duties

  • Support the cutting edge R&D program at the LIGO laboratory aimed at improving the detector sensitivity and duty cycle, in collaboration with scientists and engineers in the LIGO Laboratory and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration;
  • Design, construct and operate table-top experiments to test new technologies and ideas for current and future gravitational-wave instruments;
  • Develop techniques and algorithms to characterize and remove noise sources;
  • Initiate or collaborate in writing research papers and technical presentations at national and international conferences;
  • This position requires occasional travel to other LIGO installations and collaborating institutions in Livingston, Louisiana, Hanford, Washington, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and possibly internationally;
  • Other duties as assigned.

Basic Qualifications

  • A PhD in Physics, Engineering, Optics, or another related experimental field;
  • A minimum of 3 years of experience post Ph.D.  as an experimental physicist or equivalent laboratory setting;
  • Possess good verbal and written communication skills, a team attitude, and a high degree of professional discipline.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with the design and/or operation of optical and laser systems, interferometry and high-precision metrology;
  • Proficiency with scientific computation, simulation and data analysis in python or equivalent language;
  • Experience working with gravitational wave interferometers.

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter and Resume are required for a complete application. Please write a cover letter that expains your interest in this position and LIGO and highlights your relevant experience;
  • Please also provide up to 5 recent publications that highlight your contribution to research topics that are relevant for this position.


Caltech is more than a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, it is a community—a community of curious and passionate individuals who collaborate to understand and solve complex scientific and societal challenges. We seek the best and brightest talent to join our workforce and become members of our community. We look for talented individuals who possess a diverse set of skills and experience to match the vast career opportunities available on campus, including researchers, finance specialists, fundraisers, food service workers, administrative associates, and information technology professionals, just to name a few.

Beyond the campus in Pasadena, California, Caltech manages NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the leading U.S. center for the robotic exploration of the solar system, and together we are Pasadena's largest employer. Caltech's reach extends globally with locations outside Pasadena in Louisiana, Washington, Hawaii, and Switzerland. We offer a collaborative and dynamic work environment, exceptional career development opportunities, competitive pay programs, great benefits, and an inclusive culture where you will have the opportunity to participate in many campus programs and activities.

If you're ready to put your unique skills and knowledge to use in an environment that fosters and values professional and personal growth, we invite you to discover the many exciting careers and benefits available here at Caltech.

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