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Research Associate/Senior Research Associate

Requisition Number:



Boulder, Colorado





Employment Type:

Research Faculty



Posting Close Date:


Date Posted:


Job Summary

The Research & Innovation Office (RIO) at CU Boulder is encouraging applications for Research Associates and Senior Research Associates in multiple domains, who will support the growth of the campus's National Security research enterprise. These positions will report to leadership within the Center for National Security Initiatives (NSI), within RIO. You will be responsible for developing groundbreaking research associated with the National Security enterprise, identifying new sponsored research opportunities with Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) partners, and preparing and executing strategic proposals in collaboration with other CU Boulder faculty and NSI researchers. Candidates will be focused on strategic development of a nationally recognized research program, with an emphasis on applied research in the National Security space. New positions are available in the following focus areas:

Autonomous Systems: Requires expertise relevant to the areas of field robotics, assured algorithms, control theory, computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). The candidate will address challenges including swarming, networked autonomy, human-machine teaming, and perception and localization.

Cybersecurity: Requires applied research expertise associated with the design, attack, and defense of cyber systems, such as networks, information systems, AI/ML and information/data analytics, computer architecture, human-machine teaming and automation, applied cryptology, computer aided design (CAD) of digital and analog devices/circuits, and semiconductor materials, fabrication, and devices. The candidate will develop solutions focused on ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information stored on and transmitted across U.S. space assets, critical infrastructure, and global communications systems.

Environment and Climate: Requires expertise in the characterization and forecasting of natural environments that are key to national security operations such as rising sea levels, changes in navigability or terrain conditions, and sustainable energy operations. We have particular interest in the Arctic (i.e., coastal erosion, melting ice, thawing permafrost) as related to national security needs, but also will consider expertise in other regions. The candidate will build effective collaborations with established environmental and climate scientists at CU Boulder to rapidly develop relevant capabilities.

Geospatial Data Analytics: Requires expertise in applying analytics to terrestrial and space data sets, including fusing disparate and large data sets to produce actionable information. The candidate will develop algorithms and applications by applying AI/ML, computer vision and state-of-the-art techniques to create models that support decision making tools in the national security arena.

Human Performance / Human Factors: Requires specialization in areas including human-machine teaming, human-machine interfaces, virtual augmentation of human performance, training, and education, all within a national security context.

Hypersonics: Requires a detailed understanding of the current U.S. activities on hypersonics, both in terms of weapons development and approaches to counter hypersonics. The candidate will develop and apply computational tools for analysis of various aspects of hypersonic vehicle performance and phenomena including aerothermodynamics, material, structures, propulsion, signatures, and mission design.

Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT): Requires expertise in the science and instrumentation of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), algorithms for assured PNT, and the development of technologies for GPS limited/denied environments. The candidate will develop high precision, low SWaP-C solutions for resilient operations in relevant DoD environments.

Quantum Technologies: Requires expertise in the development of quantum-based capabilities for sensing, computing, and/or communications, for national security applications in all domains (land, sea, air, space, cyber). The candidate will build effective collaborations with established quantum scientists and engineers at CU Boulder to accelerate the transition of quantum products.

Radiofrequency (RF) Engineering: Requires expertise in RF communications, spectrum operations, and/or electronic warfare (EW) to address DoD challenges in SWaP-C, bandwidth, loss/efficiency, integration, and/or stealth. The candidate will develop solutions associated with power amplification, filter design, integrated circuit design, apertures, and/or configurable RF.

Space Domain Awareness: Requires specialization in areas including astrodynamics, sensor tasking, state estimation, guidance/navigation/control (GNC), and space weather. The candidate will address key challenges in information fusion, perception, and activity interference with emphasis on space operations and anomaly identification and characterization.

Research Associates must have a customer-centric, results-focused mentality with the ability to operate in a sophisticated and dynamic environment to attain the strategic goals of the rapidly growing CU Boulder national security portfolio.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Research and Innovation Office (RIO) is the central point for support and advocacy for CU Boulder’s world-class scholarship, creative work, and research. The Center for National Security Initiatives is dedicated to providing high-impact national security research enabled by world-class research scientists and essential infrastructure. As the sole Tier-1 research institution in Colorado and the top public University in NASA funding, CU Boulder is well-positioned for continued growth to the current $45M per year DoD research portfolio. Colorado’s $15.4B Aerospace & Defense Economy and a strong ecosystem of defense prime contractors, entrepreneurs, and Federal partners further strengthen our opportunity to grow our strategic impact on National Security research.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

  • Develop and execute on research proposals, key research tasks, and deliverables in support of DoD, IC, and Aerospace and Defense Industry customers.
  • Develop a nationally recognized research program in National Security that strategically supports the missions of NSI and the National Security enterprise.
  • Provide technical leadership of research projects or project subtasks and coordinate across academic departments and research groups for interdisciplinary efforts.
  • Summarize results and provide required documentation and SW/HW deliverables to sponsors.
  • Engage Government and Industry sponsors, with support from NSI Staff, to shape strategic research opportunities and win research contracts.
  • Understand and communicate key challenges and R&D priorities regarding DoD and other national security organizations to develop the CU Boulder applied research portfolio.
  • Provide recommended prioritization of new sponsored research opportunities to the NSI leadership team.
  • Establish and leverage professional network with key customers, influencers, and executive decision makers in the national security community and gain insight into strategic direction, policies, R&D priorities, allocated budgets, and plans associated with relevant national security programs.

What You Should Know

  • Due to the requirement to access export-controlled data and information, applicants must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance.
  • Due to the requirement to access export-controlled data and information, only U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green cards), or other protected individuals (i.e., persons designated as asylum, refugee, or temporary resident under amnesty provisions) may apply.
  • Travel out-of-state will be required.
  • Irregular work hours including evenings and weekends may be required.

What We Can Offer

We offer a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, along with a generous benefits package.

A Research Associate hired for this specific opportunity will be hired with an initial salary in one of the following ranges, depending on education and experience.

  • Research Associate: $85,000 to $150,000 annually
  • Principal Research Associate: $145,000 to $190,000 annually
  • Senior Research Associate: $185,000 to $210,000 annually

Relocation expenses may be available for this position following RIO and the University of Colorado’s relocation processes and procedures. 


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be ambitious. Be groundbreaking. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • PhD in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or a field relevant to the given focus area.
  • Research Associate: A minimum of three years of experience in Academia, the Aerospace and Defense Industry, or Government in a research role.
  • Principal Research Associate: A minimum of seven years of experience in Academia, the Aerospace and Defense Industry, or Government in a research role.
  • Senior Research Associate: Established national leader in the field at the time of hire.
  • Proven expertise in the development and application of research in research focus area/s specified above.

What You Will Need

  • Demonstrated record of success and credibility within both the national security and academic communities.
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills; strong interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrated high-level critical thinking and organizational skills.
  • Ability to work within a complex, dynamic, matrixed structure across colleges and university administration and externally with Government and Industry partners.

What We Would Like You to Have

  • Experience working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary role at, or with, an academic or research institution.
  • Proven track record leading research efforts in support of DoD or Aerospace and Defense Industry.
  • Program Management, Contracting, and/or Business Development experience in the Federal Government or Industry.
  • Active and or previous security clearance with the ability to acquire a clearance.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  1. Resume or CV.
  2. Cover Letter addressed to the Search Committee briefly describing your qualifications, professional goals, and specific interest in this position.
  3. Reference Letter(s) (Not Confidential)

If you are selected as the finalist, your degree will be verified by the CU Boulder Campus Human Resources department using an approved online vendor. If your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version as an optional attachment.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until 8/7/24.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs.

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Boulder Campus Human Resources

Posting Contact Email: