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Director of Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
La Palma, Canary Islands
€80,044.68 - €84,257.92 per annum
Posting live until
18 Aug 2024

Job Details

Director of Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

La Palma, Canary Islands

Full-time position

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is seeking a new Director to shape and facilitate world-class cutting-edge astronomical research, supported by exceptional staff and facilities, amid a period of significant scientific potential.

About the role

The Director of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is responsible for managing the staff and operations of ING within budget constraints to optimise readiness and effectiveness for scientific research. Reporting to the Programmes Executive Director of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Director must ensure efficient resource utilisation, compliance with regulations, and adherence to health and safety standards.

Key responsibilities include recruiting and retaining high-quality staff, particularly in senior roles, fostering an inclusive work environment, and supporting professional development. The Director will coordinate resources for optimal efficiency, operating within financial limits, and developing an annual budget for ING Board approval. Long-term vision development, effective communication with various stakeholders, and maintaining relations with the ING users, host communities, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), and the Comite Cientifico Internacional (CCI) of the Canarian Observatories, are crucial aspects of the role. Additionally, maintaining a high profile for ING through national and international public engagement is a key priority.

Please visit the candidate prospectus for further information on the role, responsibilities and requirements, or request a copy via email to

About us

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Spain, housing the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope (WHT) and the 2.5-meter Isaac Newton Telescope (INT). Both telescopes are undergoing enhancements, with the introduction of the cutting-edge multi-fibre spectrograph, WEAVE, for the WHT. WEAVE, featuring high-multiplex MOS as well as a large-area IFU at high spectral resolving power, has started science operations in 2023, with MOS survey activities scheduled for late 2024. Simultaneously, the INT is preparing for advancements with the construction of HARPS3, a high-stability echelle spectrograph, expected to achieve first light in 2025.

The ING operates under the coordination of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). The collaborative effort ensures shared operation and observing time allocation on ING telescopes. Oversight is provided by the ING Board, comprising scientists and representatives from the funding agencies of the partner countries.

The core functions of ING include delivering effective telescope operations, facilitating world-class astronomical research by the astronomical communities of the partner countries, establishing the telescopes as world-class and internationally competitive, and pursuing top-quality astronomical research and training in observational astronomy.

About you

We understand that individuals might hesitate to submit an application if they don't meet each of the criteria. If you're enthusiastic about joining our organisation and possess a majority of the skills or experience, we encourage you to proceed with an application. We recognise that a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences enrich our work environment and therefore actively welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates.

The successful applicant must be an astronomer with a proven track record of achievement in their field, as well as managerial experience in the operation of a research group or research facility, including financial budgeting and control.  

Candidates will also be assessed against the following criteria throughout the recruitment process:

  • the leadership and communication skills to manage international and multi-disciplinary teams in a highly demanding environment, where complex problems have to be diagnosed and solved against very tight deadlines while maintaining a 365 day per year operational service;
  • awareness of the cultural differences between the three partner countries funding the ING operations; 
  • a sense of vision, commitment and purpose to lead the longer-term future of the ING, this should include awareness of the developments in astronomical research and of the capabilities of other international Observatories; 
  • good knowledge of Spanish is highly desirable; if necessary, intensive language training will be provided prior to taking up the appointment.

The successful candidate will be required and must be able to work at an altitude of 2400m. 


This position offers a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance including:

23 days’ annual leave plus public holidays, flexible working hours, private medical insurance, advanced payment of salary, enhanced sick pay and payment in-kind.


To apply, please send a completed application form in English, available here, by email to The closing date for applications is on 18th August 2024, 23:29h WEST. Interviews are expected to take place in September 2024 in La Palma.

Information related to the terms and conditions of this post is available from ING’s Head of Administration, Juanjo Herrera:  

Further information on this position is available from the current Director, Marc Balcells:

ING is fully committed to equality of opportunity in the workplace.

Contractual information

This is a permanent, full-time position regulated by the bargaining agreement between the ING and its local staff, based in La Palma. Candidates should be available to take up the position by 1st  January 2025 if possible. However, this date is negotiable.

The appointment will be at Grade I, according to the ING Salary Pay Scale. The starting basic gross salary is €80,044.68 per annum which is subject to Spanish income tax and social security deductions. After the first year, the salary will increase to €84,257.92 per annum. An additional allowance may also be offered of up to €34,000.00, dependent on skills and experience.


STFC imageAt the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), research is driven by practical applications and a curiosity to create a world-leading hub of scientific and engineering excellence. Our science and facilities enable researchers to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. Success typically requires long-term strategic investment, international collaboration on a global scale and the capability to push the limits of technology and engineering. To remain internationally competitive in our areas of science and to keep our facilities at the leading edge, we have to develop bespoke technology that cannot be reliably sourced on the open market, for example in detectors and instrumentation, accelerators, specialist engineering, optics and e-infrastructure. These technologies are often also applied to address broader societal and industrial challenges and we actively promote their translation and commercialization.

Why work for us
When you join STFC, you become a key part of one of Europe’s largest research organizations. We are trusted to support, enable, and undertake cutting-edge projects in an amazing diversity of fields that you could be a part of. With access to our world-class facilities, people like you are helping us to drive ground-breaking advances in science, engineering, computing and technology.

  • The Particle Physics Department (PPD) is one of the largest particle physics groups in the UK. We design, construct and operate some of the most sensitive scientific instruments in the world, collaborating with partners in academia, industry and international laboratories such as CERN. We currently work with the ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, DUNE, Hyper-K, T2K, MICE, Lux-Zeplin, DEAP-3600, CERN RD50, Electron Ion Collider and AION collaborations.
  • The National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) is a £93m UKRI investment over five years based at the Harwell Campus. This is a strategic element within the overall £1bn, 10-year investment into quantum technologies made by the UK since 2014.

Our benefits

  • 30 days annual leave plus 10.5 public and privilege days.
  • Flexible or hybrid working may be available dependent on role.
  • Defined benefit pension scheme (employer contribution – currently up to 26%).
  • Sport and social groups across campus with access to an on-site gym.

For more information on all of our employee benefits, visit

Who we are looking for
The UK has a world-class research and innovation system. Our expertise spans all fields of knowledge, from the discovery of penicillin and monoclonal antibodies, to the jet engine and the World Wide Web. Therefore it is vital for us to have the best people at all levels throughout UKRI. We want to continue to attract a mix of talented professionals, scientists and engineers.


Number of employees
STFC has 2594 staff members across the UK and UKRI has approx. 8000

Main areas of research
Our work encompasses everything from the physical, biological and social
sciences, to innovation, engineering, medicine, the environment, as well as arts and the humanities

Positions recently recruited for
Electronic engineers, data scientists, research associates CMS/DUNE, research associate on electron ion collider (EiC), ion trap physicists

Desired degree disciplines/class
A STEM degree

How to apply
Apply online at 

Closing date
All year round

Quantum physics and computing vacancies: E-mail
Particle physics vacancies: E-mail

Company info
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
OX11 0QX

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