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Research Associate / Senior Research Associate

University of Cambridge
Department of Physics, West Cambridge
Closing date
13 Oct 2023

Job Details

Research Associate / Senior Research associate in mechanical design and fabrication for astronomical instrumentation (Fixed Term)

The Astrophysics Group at the Cavendish Laboratory has an on-going program designing, prototyping, and deploying state-of-the-art optical and near-infrared instruments (e.g., cameras, spectrographs, active optical systems) for astronomical telescopes worldwide.

We are seeking an experienced mechanical/opto-mechanical engineer at the Research Associate/Senior Research Associate level to join our existing multi-disciplinary team. The successful applicant will be expected to provide precision mechanism and opto-mechanical design and construction expertise across our broad portfolio of astronomical instrument projects. These include the delivery of the HARPS3 spectrograph, which will undertake a search for Earth-like planets around nearby Sun-like stars, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer, an array of telescopes that will make images at angular resolutions x50 better than the JWST, and ANDES, the high-resolution spectrograph for the European ELT. The postholder will lead the design, construction, assembly and testing of the mechanical, opto-mechanical, and vacuum assemblies for these projects which typically have micron- or sub-micron tolerances.

The successful candidate must hold a PhD (or have equivalent experience) in Engineering or a relevant scientific discipline. Candidates must have a proven track record in the computer-aided design, analysis, and FEA modelling of precision mechanical systems and in their procurement, assembly, and testing.

Preference will be given to candidates with experience in one or more relevant areas including: (a) the design, fabrication, and assembly of opto-mechanical systems; (b) the design, assembly, and testing of cryogenic (LN2 cooled) instruments; (c) the design and assembly of vacuum and pumping systems for air- and LN2-cooled enclosures; (d) the management of large technical contracts.

Candidates' mechanical design experiences should be demonstrated by publications in journals or proceedings of conferences sponsored by professional bodies. A good understanding, and broad experience, of CAD and FEA modelling of mechanisms and mechanical assemblies is required.

The candidate must have the ability to work within multi-disciplinary teams and be a good coordinator, managing their time across projects, and communicating results clearly verbally and in writing.

The post holder will be located at the Department of Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK.

You will be offered one of the following two salary grades: Research Associate: £36,024- £44,263, Senior Research Associate: £45,585 to £57,696; depending on the skills and experience you are able to bring to the role.

If you have any questions about this vacancy, please contact Professor Chris Haniff ( If you have any questions about the application process, please contact 

Closing date: 13th October 2023

To apply, please click “Apply Now”.


The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest and most successful Universities, with an outstanding reputation for academic achievement and research.

It was ranked first in the 2011 QS World University Rankings and its graduates have won more Nobel Prizes than any other university in the world. The University comprises more than 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions, plus a central administration and 31 independent and autonomous colleges.

The University and the Colleges are linked in a complex historical relationship. The Colleges are selfgoverning, separate legal entities which appoint their own staff. They admit students, provide student accommodation and deliver small group teaching (supervisions). The University awards degrees and its faculties and departments provide lectures and seminars for students, determine the syllabi for teaching and conduct research.

Department of Engineering

The Department’s international reputation attracts the best students, academics, sponsors and partners from around the world. The Department has 147 Academic Staff, 263 Research Staff and approximately 200 Support Service Staff. There are some 1,200 undergraduate students and over 800 postgraduate students. It is accommodated on two sites; one in central Cambridge and four satellite buildings in West Cambridge.


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