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Director of UK Astronomy Technology Centre

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) - UK Astronomy Technology Centre
The Royal Observatory Edinburgh
£87,565 - £99,000 per annum (depending on skills and experience)
Closing date
1 Apr 2024

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Job Type
Employment - Hours
Full time
Professional certification

Director of UK Astronomy Technology Centre

Based on site at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh 

£87,565 - £99,000 per annum (depending on skills and experience)

Full-time, Open-ended appointment


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is seeking an experienced scientific leader as Director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) and Head of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh (ROE) site. This role presents an exciting opportunity to shape and deliver a growing national programme, supported by exceptional staff and facilities, amid a period of outstanding scientific potential.

About us

The UK ATC is the national centre of expertise for the design and delivery of astronomical instrumentation and works closely with UK University partners and international collaborators to design and build transformative and ground-breaking instrumentation and software for large astronomical observatories around the world. The UK ATC supports our astronomy community through design, construction (and exploitation) for astronomy, and enables future science through:

A) research and development in instrumentation

B) maintaining facilities, expertise and talent in necessary professional engineering/technical areas with long-term career development for staff

C) helping to define the future programme together with UK and international partners Find out more about the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

About the role

The Director will shape the future of the department through the articulation of a clear vision and strategy, guiding its next phase of development. As a collaborative leader, the Director will empower and steer the staff toward success, leveraging sound financial management expertise and leadership skills at an international level. The primary responsibilities include securing, implementing, and delivering large-scale national and international astronomy projects. As the Head of the ROE site, the Director will lead its strategic development and provide operational oversight.

Reporting to the Executive Director of National Laboratories Science and Technologies, the Director will oversee the UK Astronomy Technology Centre and manage the Department's budget, ensuring effective financial and risk management. Collaboration with senior professionals in STFC and national and international astronomy institutes is essential for delivering the UK ATC programme and ensuring the safe operation of the ROE site. The Director is expected to inspire and lead large, complex teams and provide visible and proactive scientific and technical leadership. Strategic partnerships with key national and international organisations are crucial for achieving shared objectives.

About you

We understand that individuals might hesitate to submit an application if they don't meet every one of the criteria below. If you're enthusiastic about joining our organisation and possess a majority of the desired skills or experience, we encourage you to proceed with an application. We recognise that a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences enriches our work environment and therefore actively welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates.

Candidates will be assessed against the following criteria throughout the recruitment process:

  • Your track record of achievement in observational astronomy or space science with a network of international connections and experience of leadership at senior levels in the community. Experience in developing associated instrumentation and/or leading programmes of similar complexity. 
  • Excellent communicator with proven skills in motivating, utilising and developing capability across a diverse team of technical and scientific staff, building trust and teamwork. 
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with demonstrated ability to influence, build and maintain strong working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders in a collaborative and consultative approach.
  • Familiarity with the organisation and delivery of multi-national instrument consortia as well as knowledge/experience of the consensus building and political processes that lead to priorities for new ground-based observatories, instruments and astronomy space missions in the UK and internationally.
  • Experience of developing and delivering strategy including resource planning, operational delivery and pursuing and delivering major projects.  Experience in staff management, allocating resources and handling a budget.
  • Ability to make difficult decisions balancing conflicting priorities and agendas of all stakeholders with well-developed mediation and problem-solving abilities.

For further information on the role and responsibilities, please visit the candidate prospectus or request a copy by email to


STFC offers a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance including 30 days annual leave plus public holidays, flexible working hours, exceptional pension scheme and social and sporting activities and societies. Please visit our benefits page for more information. A relocation allowance may also be available where applicable.

To apply

Please visit our Careers Portal to apply. Applicants should supply a supporting statement (also referred to as a cover letter) of no more than four pages outlining their vision for the UK ATC for the next ten years and outlining their suitability for the role against the specified criteria. A CV of up to two pages should also be supplied.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to informally discuss the role and work of the UK ATC with the current Director, Professor Gillian Wright (   

The closing date for applications is Monday 1 April 2024 with interviews scheduled for Thursday 25 April 2024 in person at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable adjustments to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform crucial job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request any adjustments, you can also find out more about our dedication to diversity here.

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