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Senior Research Associate - Space Domain Awareness (SDA)

Requisition Number:



Boulder, Colorado

Employment Type:

Research Faculty



Date Posted:


Job Summary

The Research & Innovation Office at CU Boulder is encouraging applications for Senior Research Associates, who will support efforts to grow the campus's national security-related research enterprise. This position will report directly to the Director, Center for National Security Initiatives (CNSI) within the Research and Innovation Office (RIO). You are responsible for developing groundbreaking research associated with the National Security research portfolio, identifying new sponsored research opportunities with Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) partners, and preparing and implementing strategic proposals in collaboration with the CNSI support staff. This position will focus on strategic portfolio development, with an emphasis on growing the applied research portfolio. The position focus is in the following technical area:

  • Space Domain Awareness (SDA) is best defined as encompassing "the effective identification, characterization, and understanding of any factor associated with the space domain that could affect space operations and thereby impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States.
  • The Space Domain Awareness (SDA) position is looking for expertise relevant in areas including Astrodynamics; sensor tasking; state estimation; and guidance, navigation, and controls (GNC). The individual will address key challenges in Information Fusion, perception, and activity interference with emphasis on Space Operations and Anomaly Identification and Characterization.
  • In addition, expertise relevant in position, navigation, and timing (PNT) science (GNSS/radionav, inertial, and clock instrumentation).
  • 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

  • Design, plan, conduct and coordinate various research projects in support of the NSI portfolio.
  • Develop research proposals, key research tasks, and deliverables in support of DoD, IC, and Aerospace and Defense Industry customers. Provide technical leadership of research projects or project subtasks and coordination across academic departments and research groups for interdisciplinary efforts.
  • Summarize results and provide required documentation and Software/Hardware deliverables to sponsors.
  • Engage Government and Industry sponsors, with support from CNSI 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 CNSI leadership team.
  • Establish and use a 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, only U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green cards), or other protected individuals (i.e., persons designated as an asylee, refugee, or a temporary resident under amnesty provisions) may apply.
  • Travel out-of-state will be required.
  • Irregular work hours including evenings and weekends may be required.
  • All University of Colorado Boulder employees are required to comply with the campus COVID-19 vaccine requirement. New employees must provide proof of vaccination or receive a medical or religious exemption within 30 days of employment.

What We Can Offer

  • We offer a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, along with a generous benefits package.
  • A Senior Research Associate hired for this specific opportunity will be hired with an initial salary in the following range, depending on education and experience.
  • Salary range $130,000 to $180,000 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 collaborative. Be respectful. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or a field relevant to the given focus area.
  • Senior Research Associate: A minimum of six years of experience in Academia, or the Aerospace and Defense Industry, or Government in a research role.
  • 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 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.
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.

Position will remain posted until 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: Boulder Campus Human Resources

Posting Contact Email: