Berkeley SETI

The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence
At UC Berkeley
Postdoctoral Positions

The Department of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley seeks applications for two postdoctoral employees in the areas of astrophysics, astrobiology, machine learning and/or high speed digital signal analysis in support of the Breakthrough Listen Initiative.

These positions are at 100% time, with an expected start date of January 1, 2020, which is flexible. These positions will allow up to 50% time to be spent on personal research and 50% in support of the science operations of the "Breakthrough Listen Initiative."

On July 13, 2015, UC Berkeley signed a contract with the Breakthrough Prize Foundation to carry out a major new research program called the "Breakthrough Listen Initiative." Breakthrough Listen employs telescopes around the world to conduct the most comprehensive, intensive and sensitive search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence ever undertaken. Deploying the necessary instrumentation for the search involves designing and constructing new high-speed digital electronics and novel signal processing software, able to process terabit-scale data streams. The work also involves deploying, testing, and operating these electronics and software on the world's largest telescopes, and leveraging them to conduct sensitive and methodical searches for artificial emission. Breakthrough Listen instrumentation and data products can also be used to study natural astrophysical objects in novel ways.

The Breakthrough Listen Team has excellent access to a rich array of technical resources, including multiple state-of-the-art GPU clusters, many-petabyte storage and high-speed data access over both the commodity internet and research WANs. The group is in the process of deploying powerful and flexible digital backends at multiple radio telescopes, including a 12 GHz bandwidth baseband data processor at the Green Bank Telescope, a 6 GHz bandwidth system at the Parkes telescope, and an upcoming 64-beam commensal system at the MeerKAT Telescope.

Incumbents will be expected to serve as key scientists of the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, including participation in the development of state-of-the-art novel instrumentation, algorithms, and observing techniques at radio, infrared and optical wavelengths. Incumbents will also interact with staff engineers with regards to the science requirements stipulated by the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, monitor project milestones, and ensure that necessary capabilities are in place to execute the Breakthrough Listen Initiative science program. Incumbents will have opportunities to use the Green Bank and Parkes radio telescopes and the Lick Observatory Automated Planet Finder telescope to carry out their own research, as well as commensal data from a bespoke beamformer on MeerKAT in South Africa. Incumbents will also have opportunities to engage with the diverse scientific community at UC Berkeley and supervise the work of students and junior scientists.

As part of the College of Letters and Science, the Department of Astronomy offers undergraduate and graduate instruction in a wide variety of fields, including theoretical and observational astrophysics; infrared, optical, and radio astronomy; galactic structure and dynamics of stellar systems; high-energy astrophysics and cosmology; and spectroscopy.

Basic qualifications: A PhD or equivalent degree in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Physics, Planetary Science, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science or related field is required at time of application.

Preferred qualifications: (By the time of application):

  • Experience with high-speed digital signal processing and/or signal detection in the time or frequency domain.
  • Experience with many petabyte data sets, distributed scientific data analysis, and / or training deep learning algorithms on large and complex datasets.
  • Publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals involving technosignature search algorithm design and research.

Salary and Benefits: Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualification based on classification.

UC Berkeley offers excellent health and welfare packages. It also has a number of policies and programs in place to support employees as they balance work and family. Information on available plans and eligibility can be found at:

To apply, please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, summary of publications, and contact information for 2 references to Karen Aguilar ( Please reference "2019 Postdoctoral Scholar Application" in the subject line. A statement of research is optional but highly encouraged. All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality ( prior to submitting their letters.

The application deadline is November 15.

Please direct administrative questions to Breakthrough Listen Administrator Karen Aguilar: and scientific/technical questions to Breakthrough Listen Principal Investigator Dr. Andrew Siemion:

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see here.