Associate Scientist, Quantum

Universities Space Research Association
Mountain View, CA
Closing date
Jul 1, 2022

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Organization Type
Job Description USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other customers - on schedule and within budget.

USRA's Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) operates a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center that conducts strategic multi-disciplinary, integrative research and science that supports NASA's long-term mission requirements. Research focuses on testing and evaluating emerging quantum hardware, investigations of quantum mechanisms that may be used to provide a quantum advantage, development of new algorithms and software for quantum computing, and application of quantum computing to a range of real-world problems involving planning and scheduling, machine learning, and fault diagnostics. The team works in partnership with a number of organizations from academia, industry and the U.S. Government.

Position Summary:

The Interdisciplinary Scientist will develop and examine state-of-the-art quantum and classical machine learning models for Environmental Sustainability and Governance (ESG) applications. The scientist will investigate hybrid quantum image-to-image translation methods for satellite images and hybrid quantum physics informed neural networks or similar architectures (e.g. DeepONets, Fourier Neural Operators) for solving direct and inverse problems in ordinary or partial differential equations. They will develop and train machine learning models and perform experiments and analysis using open-satellite data sets leveraging experimental and commercial quantum computing devices and simulators. In addition, they will explore robustness of quantum or quantum-inspired hardware (e.g. Coherent Ising Machines, Digital Annealers) for best practice programming and illuminate inner workings within these algorithms to better understand mechanisms used to provide quantum computational advantage. Example research problems include:
  • Develop, test, and analyze performance of sampling strategies based on generative and related algorithms.
  • Development of new analytical, experimental, or numerical techniques to better analyze realistic quantum computational paradigms in ESG applications. Designs of appropriate benchmarking approaches with application related problem sets.
  • Test applications of quantum or quantum-inspired computing ESG problems in forecasting and uncertainty

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:
  • Write internal reports describing methods, and summaries of experimental results.
  • Write code that implements algorithms and scripts to run code, collect and analyze data.
  • Perform a variety of duties in support of the research goals and objectives.
  • Perform data analysis, for research projects and maintains databases of scientific information.
  • Conduct research under the direction of a scientist.
  • Assist in the preparation of technical documents and scientific papers.
  • Assist in the development of oral presentations, including preparation of slides.
  • Supervise interns on technical projects.
  • Contribute technical content to research proposals, research publications, technical briefings, training and dissemination actions, and white papers.
  • Other job related duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:
  • 0-2 years in the field of Quantum Physics, Applied Mathematics, or Applied Computer Science.
  • Strong research success contributing and leading publications.
  • Good organizational and communication skills.
  • Strong software development skills and knowledge of relevant generic data science and numeric packages in python as well as in other programming languages, as appropriate.
  • Note that also more senior candidates will be considered and the position could be escalated up to Senior Scientist.

  • Ph.D. in Physics, Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Mathematics. If Ph.D. has not been achieved then an equivalent track record of publications and coding is acceptable.

Desired Experience:
  • Experience developing numerical models and algorithms.
  • Experience using AWS cloud computing systems.
  • Experience using HPC systems.
  • Experience designing, running and analyzing algorithms on quantum hardware.
  • Experience building tools that enable effective use of near-term quantum hardware.
  • Experience with optimization and/or machine learning methods.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
  • Ability to work independently and effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks, coordinate work of others, and meet multiple deadlines.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, LaTeX or similar applications.
  • Understanding of the near-term hardware platforms of quantum computing, specifically. superconducting-qubit based chips.

Working Conditions:

This job operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. This is largely a sedentary role.


Up to 25% including international travel to London or Singapore.

Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at

If you are not vaccinated, please consider getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact your HR Recruiter for further information.

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.

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