Research Geologist

Opening Date:  4/5/2021
Closing Date:  7/5/2021
Grade: IS-11
Type of Position: Trust
Work Location: Center for Earth and Planetary Studies in Washington, DC


The Smithsonian Institution (SI) is a diverse museum and research complex dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge. The National Air and Space Museum's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS) undertakes scientific research in the fields of terrestrial and planetary geology and geophysics. The purpose of this position is to carry out geological research and analysis and/or mission support work in CEPS on topics related to planetary science. 

Major Duties

The incumbent conducts research in the geology and geophysics of the Earth, Moon, and/or planets. The research consists of systematically planned, original studies based on remote sensing data collected by ground-based telescopes or orbiting spacecraft. The specific range of tasks will be set by the sources of funding such as NASA research and analysis grants or mission science-team contracts. Tasks to be carried out may include:

  1. Use standard and customized data products from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) sounding instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for scientific studies, including but not limited to glacial and polar deposits, lava flows, the Medusae Fossae Formation, and ionospheric effects due to solar and magnetic field processes.
  2. Carry out scientific studies of Mars surface roughness, compositional properties, and polar layering from multi-band signal processing of data from the SHARAD instrument. Much of this work requires use of ArcGIS software.
  3. Assist in data processing and analysis of 3-d volume interior views of the poles of Mars created from radar sounder data. These data will further inform the mapping of layer properties across the polar caps.
  4. Assist in development of processing methods and science approaches for the Radar for Icy Moon Exploration (RIME) sounder on the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission and the REASON radar sounder on the Europa Clipper mission. Much of this work will involve comparisons to data from the MARSIS instrument on Mars Express, SHARAD, or the Lunar Radar Sounder on the SELENE Moon-orbiting mission.
  5. Carry out scientific analysis of Earth-based radar maps and orbital observations of the Moon and Venus. This work may support one or more possible Venus missions such as DaVINCI+, VERITAS, or EnVision.

Knowledge Required for the Position

  • Knowledge of the principles and theories of geology.
  • Extensive knowledge of the geology of one or more planets or natural satellites.
  • Knowledge and expertise in the display and analysis of remote sensing data (e.g., use of Geographic Information Systems software such as ArcGIS or other).
  • Ability to carry out research efficiently, accurately, and with minimal supervision. 
  • Skill in oral and written communication for scientific talks and publications. 


  • Ph.D. in geology or geophysics, with an emphasis on planetary science topics. 
  • Demonstrated success in publishing first-author, peer-reviewed research articles.
  • Demonstrated expertise in Geographical Information System software.  

Work Environment

This work is normally carried out at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies in Washington, DC. For the first year of the appointment, remote telework is expected. The extension of remote telework to future years will be at the discretion of the supervisor.

Due to COVID imposed restrictions, employees will be expected to telework while the restrictions are in place.  After COVID restrictions are lifted, employees will be expected to be able to travel and work at the duty location.

Pay Scale and Grade

This position is at the IS-11, Step 1 grade. The appointment is for an initial one-year period, with possible extensions to up to four years based on available funding and research performance.

How to Apply

Send resumes and transcripts to, by July 5, 2021, please use position title in the subject line. Your resume should include description of duties for each of the positions listed on your resume, whether the position was Voluntary, Full or Part-Time, and an average number of hours worked per week.   


The Smithsonian Institute does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.