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Research Associate

Requisition Number:



Boulder, Colorado





Employment Type:

Research Faculty



Date Posted:


Job Summary

The Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) encourages applications for a Research Associate!

This position is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Professional Research Experience Program (PREP). NIST recognizes that its research staff may wish to collaborate with researchers at academic institutions on specific projects of mutual interest, thus requires that such institutions must be the recipient of a PREP award. The PREP program requires staff from a wide range of backgrounds to work on scientific research in many areas. Employees in this position will perform technical work that underpins the scientific research of the collaboration.

The work will entail: The associate will design, fabricate, integrate, and test a cutting edge custom radio frequency (RF) phased array based on atomic sensors. This work will involve the design and fabrication of two-dimensional atomic vapor cells integrated with photonic circuits that will be tested using optical readout. This project entails laser fiber coupling, integration with photonic circuits, cleanroom coating and bonding operations, and RF testing in anechoic chambers. The associate will strengthen their experimental laboratory skills by working with ultra-stable, high performance laser systems, integrated optics, microfabrication processing, data acquisition and analysis, and theoretical topics that inform the performance of the novel system.

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

PREP is a special partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. PREP provides research opportunities to CU undergraduate and graduate students, as well as researchers with a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD in NIST labs to gain research experience alongside NIST scientists.

The particular group that needs a researcher is the Electromagnetic Fields Group under the RF Technology Division at NIST.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

  • Design and construct a portable, fiber-coupled RF atomic sensor head and perform synthetic aperture measurements with this device of various microwave channels.
  • Integrate photonic chips with custom vapor cells and test the optical couplings and atomic response by performing laser spectroscopy measurements.
  • Design, fabricate, fill, and test atomic vapor cells in cleanroom environments.
  • Perform precision measurements of microwave channels using the novel RF phased array and characterize uncertainties.
  • Frequency lock multiple laser systems to atomic transition frequencies.
  • Perform laser spectroscopy measurements.
  • Automate instrument communication and data acquisition procedures.
  • Keep a well-maintained log of experimental activities.
  • Disseminate research through peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and other presentations.
  • Work collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team.

What You Should Know

Privacy Act Statement

Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 278g-1(e)(1) and (e)(3) and 15 U.S.C. § 272(b) and (c)

Purpose: The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) hosts the Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) which is designed to provide valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduates, post-bachelor’s degree holders, graduate students, master’s degree holders, postdocs, and faculty.

PREP is a 5-year cooperative agreement between NIST laboratories and participating PREP Universities to establish a collaborative research relationship between NIST and U.S. institutions of higher education in the following disciplines including (but may not be limited to) biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, engineering, electronics, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, neutron science, physical science, physics, and statistics. This collection of information is needed to facilitate administrative functions of the PREP Program.

Routine Uses: NIST will use the information collected to perform the requisite reviews of the applications to determine eligibility, and to meet programmatic requirements. Disclosure of this information is also subject to all the published routine uses as identified in the Privacy Act System of Records Notices: NIST-1: NIST Associates.

Disclosure: Furnishing this information is voluntary. When you submit the form, you are indicating your voluntary consent for NIST to use of the information you submit for the purpose stated.

What We Can Offer

The salary range for this full-time position is $72,000 - $116,500 annually.

Onboarding/relocation assistance may be available, however, if within a 12-month period you exercise your right to willfully terminate your employment with the University of Colorado, you hereby agree to reimburse the department for your relocation expenses.


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 pioneering. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • A Doctorate degree in Optics, Photonics, Physics, Quantum Optics, or a related field.
  • 4+ years of relevant experience.
  • Experience with integrated photonics.
  • Experience with ultra-stable lasers, balanced detection, polarization optics, beam diagnostics, and laser diagnostics.
  • Familiarity with optical lens design.
  • Familiarity with remote instrument communication (MATLAB, Python, or LabView proficiency preferred).
  • Ability to work in cleanroom environment.
  • Ability to develop data analysis software (MATLAB or Python proficiency preferred).
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in the English language.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  1. Resume/CV
  2. Cover Letter

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. However, if your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version.

During the application process, you will need to enter contact information for a reference. We will request the letter of recommendation immediately following your application.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

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: Lisa Valencia

Posting Contact Email: