Scientist, Quantum

Universities Space Research Association
Mountain View, CA
Closing date
Jun 28, 2022

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Organization Type
Job Description
The availability of this role is contingent upon contract funding which is expected to take up to 6 months.

USRA's Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) operates a Quantum Computing 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. Additionally, RIACS leads research projects sponsored by DARPA and National Science Foundation on applied quantum computing. 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 Research Scientist for Quantum Computing and Optimization will work at the forefront of research in the theory of quantum enhancement of computation. The goal of the research effort is to improve current models of quantum computing (in particular gate-model and quantum annealing) or to study unconventional paradigms of computation (for instance, optically Coherent Ising Machines).

This could involve design of experiments to run on emerging hardware to give insights into quantum approaches to problems of interest to NASA and other partners from the U.S. Government, academia and industry. The researcher explores the physics of quantum algorithms, the robustness of the hardware, develops best practice programming techniques for quantum hardware, and illuminates the inner workings to better understand the mechanisms (e.g. entanglement, co-tunneling, many-body effects etc.) that can be used to provide a quantum computational advantage.

Example research problems include:
  • Follow, understand and review the technological developments in the sector of quantum computing, and related tangential domains, including the emergence of other post-Moore computing platforms.
  • Develop new analytical, or experimental, or numerical techniques to better analyze realistic quantum computational paradigms.
  • Invent and analyze new quantum algorithms or protocols of computation.
  • Develop, and test applications of quantum computing for specific problems such as those involving planning and scheduling of unmanned aerial systems and autonomous mobile robots, data analysis, and a number of other partner problems in the domain of optimization and machine learning.
  • Develop beyond-state-of-art classical computing techniques (optimization, machine learning)

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:
  • Lead and contribute technical content to research proposals, research publications, technical briefings, recruitment and mentoring of interns.

Other job related duties as assigned

Required Qualifications:
  • Either relevant postdoctoral work or research experience in the field of Quantum Physics, or Applied Mathematics, or Applied Computer Science.
  • Experienced in publishing related work in peer reviewed journals, and contributing to obtaining new funding in the areas above.
  • Proven organizational and communication skills.

  • Ph.D. degree in Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Computer Engineering preferred.

Desired Experience:
  • Experience developing analytical and numerical models and algorithms, quantum and classical.
  • Experience building theoretical or software tools that enable effective use of near-term quantum hardware.
  • Experience with theoretical physics methods of analysis, optimization or machine learning methods.

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

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office or similar and its applications.
  • Ability to understand and code proof-of-concepts in a modern programming language.
  • Proficiency in writing documents with mathematical notations in TeX/LaTex.
  • Understanding of the near-term hardware platforms of quantum computing (noisy intermediate scale devices).

Working Conditions:

This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc.

Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Review of candidates will begin immediately. 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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