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TOSCA-VESPA Instrument Scientist

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Harwell, UK
Band D £31,931 to £34,709 - Band E £39,748 to £44,166 per
Posting live until
23 Sep 2023

Job Details

TOSCA-VESPA Instrument Scientist (ID: 230000ZL)
Salary: Band D £31,931 to £34,709 - Band E £39,748 to £44,166 per annum (dependent on skills and experience).

Hours: Full time 

Contract Type: Fixed Term (48 months) 

Location: Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Harwell, Oxfordshire 

Come and do the kind of science that made you want to become a scientist. Explore the unknown and get to grips with the biggest challenges in Big Science. Alongside world class engineers and technologists, use everything you've learnt to find real-answers that shape society and improve lives.

Put simply, discover the kind of impact you can make when you work with some of the best facilities and brightest scientists in the world.

The European Spallation Source (ESS) is currently under construction in Lund (Sweden). Both the UK (via the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)) and Italy (via the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)) are partners in this pan-European project. As part of their contribution to the ESS, the CNR are committed to providing the indirect geometry spectrometer, VESPA, to the ESS instrument suite. ISIS and CNR are collaborating on the design of the instrument and to progress it further we are looking to recruit an instrument scientist to work on the design of the VESPA spectrometer. This is a fixed-term four year position and you will be part of the ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Group.

The role has two major components: the first is working with the VESPA lead scientist on the design of VESPA using ray-tracing simulations and on related areas such as prototyping components. The second is working on the TOSCA spectrometer at ISIS, the instrument that inspired VESPA. This includes supporting and collaborating with users to run inelastic neutron scattering experiments as well as conducting your own research program on instruments at ISIS and other neutron sources. You will work with international teams and will be involved with experiments covering a wide range of scientific research disciplines.

About you

We are looking for someone with relevant research experience and an interest in instrument design. In particular, experience of ray-tracing simulations (e.g. McStas, VITESS) and capability in using inelastic neutron scattering are required. You will work well in a collaborative environment and will have broad interests in order to work effectively with our users. You will have many ideas for your own research and will be able to communicate this with clarity and enthusiasm.

The duties of the position include:

  • Assist in the design and construction of the VESPA spectrometer;
  • Provide support to users on TOSCA, from proposal submission through experimental time to data analysis;
  • Conduct a scientific research program that includes the use of the spectrometers in the group (IRIS, OSIRIS, TOSCA and VESUVIO) as well as other instruments at ISIS and other neutron sources;
  • Contribute to developments and improvements on TOSCA, including on the instrument itself, sample environment equipment and data reduction and analysis methods;
  • Provide occasional support to users on the other instruments in the group when experiments in which you have a strong scientific interest are being conducted on them;
  • Participate fully in the scientific life of the Molecular Spectroscopy Group, as well as that of the facility more widely;
  • Represent the group’s interests on occasion at meetings with internal and external stakeholders;
  • Promotion of the Molecular Spectroscopy Group’s capabilities with new user groups and communities, with a view to expanding the user base.

Person Specification


  • Educated to PhD level in physics, chemistry, materials science, or similar discipline (or imminent award of a PhD).

Knowledge and experience:

  • Experience of design in scientific instrumentation or sample environment;
  • A track record of published research in neutron scattering commensurate with career stage;
  • Demonstrable potential (Band D) or proven ability (Band E) to pursue an independent research program;
  • Proven expertise and experience in inelastic neutron scattering, infrared or Raman spectroscopies;
  • A fundamental understanding of the neutron spectroscopy technique;
  • Computational skills, including a working knowledge of coding languages (e.g. C++, Python, Matlab).

Employee Benefits:

We are offering a fixed term position with a whole host of benefits including:

  • 30 days holiday (in addition to 10.5 bank holidays and privilege days);
  • Flexible working hours;
  • An excellent defined average salary pension scheme;
  • Employee shopping/travel discounts;
  • Excellent learning and development opportunities.

Link to more benefits:

UKRI is an Equal Opportunity & Disability Confident Employer.

What could you achieve with the world-leading facilities and experts of one of Europe's largest research organisations by your side? Join us and discover what's possible.

UKRI is an Equal Opportunity & Disability Confident Employer.

How to apply:

For full details on the role, please visit our careers site. Please submit an application including your CV and a Cover Letter that clearly showcases how your skills and experience align to the requirements of the role. 

Closing Date: 01/10/23


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
United Kingdom

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