Physicist, AST - Optical Physics

Greenbelt, Maryland
Jan 21, 2022
Jan 27, 2022
Full Time

  • Duties described below are at the full-performance level. Duties assigned at a lower grade level will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity; duties will be commensurate with the grade of selected employee.
  • Leads and develops the physical underpinnings of and technology development associated with quantum optics, atom interferometry and related fields that bear on sensors that use quantum optics or electronics and other interaction of light with matter.
  • Plans and directs technology development and simulations for space flight applications in astrophysics and planetary and Earth science that utilize quantum sensors and interferometric devices.
  • Works closely with and directs NASA partners in the development of technology and flight systems.
  • Manages experiments to help develop sensors and instrumentation.
  • Drives the development of signal processing and calibration methods for related sensors.
  • Spearheads applications in areas like communication, navigation, optical testing, and measurement.
  • As needed, serves as Task Monitor, Contracting Officer Representative (COR), or Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR) for contracts related to the task.


Conditions of Employment

  • This position is open to U.S. citizens, nationals or those who owe allegiance to the U.S
  • Position subject to pre-employment background security investigation
  • You must meet qualifications requirements by the closing date of this announcement
  • Please see the "Additional Information" section for important information about COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees.
  • A one year trial period may be required.


In addition to the basic education requirement (shown below), you must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade, which has equipped you with the particular competencies needed to successfully perform the duties of the position described above.

To qualify for GS-14, you must have one year of directly related specialized experience equivalent to the GS-13 level developing complex optical systems, to include, quantum sensors, atom interferometry, quantum optics or electronics; investigating both coherent and incoherent optical radiation and recommend improvements to the aerospace applications for which they apply; and performing work in the area(s) of physical optics, atomic optics, or quantum physics, to include, physical modeling, hardware development and/or the development of related aerospace applications.

To qualify for GS-15, you must have one year of directly related specialized experience equivalent to the GS-14 level leading and advising on the development of complex optical systems, such as quantum sensors, interferometry, atom interferometry, quantum optics or electronics; leading teams in conducting theoretical and/or experimental studies of the interaction of optical materials, devices or systems within the aerospace environments to develop innovative solutions; and performing work in the areas of physical optics, atomic optics, and quantum physics, to include physical modeling, hardware development and the development of a variety of related aerospace applications.

Your resume must include a clear and detailed narrative description, in your own words, of how you meet the required specialized experience. Experience statements copied from a position description, vacancy announcement or other reference material constitutes plagiarism and may result in disqualification and losing consideration for the job.


You must have successfully completed a bachelor's or graduate degree with a major in either a) engineering from a college or university that has ABET accredited engineering programs or b) Physical Science, Mathematics, Life Science, Computer Science*, or other field of physical science.
*Note: Curriculum must include 30 semester hours of course work in a combination of mathematics, statistics and computer science. Of the 30 semester hours, 15 must be in any combination of statistics and mathematics which includes differential and integral calculus.

Degrees in engineering technology are not considered to be qualifying for this position.

To find out if a school has an ABET accreditation, go to

Degrees must have been received in the year of, or any year subsequent to the original date of accreditation.

Engineering degrees earned outside the United States: Engineering degrees earned outside the Unites States must be recognized by a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), often known as accords. These are non-governmental agreements among organizations that accredit academic degree programs. MRAs recognize the substantial equivalence of mature accreditation systems and programs accredited by signatory organizations within their jurisdictions. For a listing of Signatories, please visit,

Science and other related degrees earned within the United States: Science and other related degrees must have been awarded from colleges or universities that are accredited by recognized accrediting organizations. For a list of schools that meet this criteria, go to .

Science and other related degrees earned outside the United States: If you are using education completed in foreign colleges or universities to meet the qualification requirements, you must show that the education credentials have been evaluated by a private organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign education programs. These education credentials must be deemed equivalent to that gained in an accredited U.S. education program; or full credit has been given for the courses at a U.S. accredited college or university. For further information, visit: .

Additional information


If you are selected, NASA may request information regarding your vaccination status for the purposes of implementing workplace safety protocols, such as masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

Due to COVID-19, NASA is currently in an expanded telework posture. If selected, you may be expected to temporarily telework, even if your home is located outside the local commuting area. Once employees are permitted to return to the office, you will be expected to report to the duty station listed on this announcement within 30 days. At that time, you may be eligible to request to continue to telework one or more days a pay period depending upon the terms of the agency's telework policy.

Additional selections may be made for similar positions across NASA within the local commuting area(s) of the location(s) identified in this announcement . By applying, you agree to have your application shared with interested selecting official(s) within NASA. CTAP/ICTAP will be cleared for any additional selection from this announcement.

This appointment may be extended beyond the initial appointment date, for a period not to exceed a total of six years.

Under the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004, individuals appointed under this announcement may be converted to permanent appointment, either non-competitively or through internal agency competitive placement procedures. Conversion is not guaranteed, and is contingent on the employee meeting all legal requirements. For more information, see:

Current Federal civilian employees may apply for this position. If selected, a break in service of at least 4 calendar days may be required prior to appointment to this position.

If you have special priority selection rights under the Agency Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) or the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP), you must:
- Indicate your eligibility when applying for a position. The questionnaire asks you to identify your ICTAP/CTAP eligibility.
-Be well qualified for this position to receive consideration. Candidates rated in the 'Best Qualified' category are considered well-qualified. Please see 'How You Will Be Evaluated' for more information.
-Submit proof that you meet the requirements for CTAP/ICTAP as indicated in 'Required Documents'

For additional information about CTAP/ICTAP eligibility, click here - https://