Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC243924
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £30056 - £41572
Date Posted 30 January 2018
Grade RC-E
Contract Type Fixed Term Appointment
Closing Date 14 March 2018
Interview Date

Salary: £30,056-£41,572 (plus an annual allowance of up to £4,000)
Grade: RC-D or RC-E (dependant upon experience)
Contract Type: Fixed Term until 31st March 2020 with the possibility of an extension or permanent contract 
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 14th March 2018

STFC has an opening for a Physicist, or Linux system administrator with a scientific background, to work within the CMS experiment to develop and support the operation of the UK Tier-1 Centre for the LHC ( For an appropriate candidate, there will be the opportunity to work with staff in the CMS group within the Particle Physics Department (, on physics analysis topics.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is performing extremely well and is providing luminosities beyond its design parameters. The CMS experiment is one of two general purpose experiments on the LHC, it is generating ever greater volumes of data - data that needs to be ingested, stored and processed at computing centres around the world, one of these major centres is the UK Tier 1 facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The Particle Physics Department at RAL is one of the largest Particle Physics groups in the UK. The design and construction of the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter end caps was led by the PPD CMS group, which also played a major role in the tracker readout. The group has had a strong role in CMS computing for well over a decade and in addition to the Tier -1 at RAL the group runs the RAL Tier-2.   The group worked on the phase I upgrade of the level 1 calorimeter trigger which was deployed in 2016. Current work on the upgrades for the HL-LHC encompasses work on the track trigger, the level 1 trigger correlator and the upgrade of the ECAL readout.  The group has a strong interest in physics beyond the standard model including analyses such as the search for a Z’ boson, searches for Beyond the Standard Model Higgs boson and long-lived particles. For many years, the group has also worked collaboratively with phenomenologists at Southampton University and the NExT Institute.

Expert effort is required to operate both the ‘generic infrastructure’ of the Tier 1 and to perform tasks directly on behalf of CMS. The latter effort must be embedded in the experimental programme to be fully effective. Following our well established and effective model of the closest-possible working relationship between Tier-1 centre operations staff and the experiments, you will work as a member of both the CMS collaboration and the Tier-1 operations team. You will have responsibility for data processing and for experiment-specific systems and services at the Tier-1. In addition, you will form part of a larger team responsible for the overall operation of the Tier-1, able to understand and communicate experiment priorities and Tier-1 operational issues.

List of duties - (details will depend upon the operational and strategic priorities for the CMS experiment)

  • support of CMS operations at RAL, for example:
    • monitoring workflows
    • identification of job failure modes and data access problems and their remedy
    • proactive investigation of problems and optimisation of the centre’s efficiency by adjustment of scheduling, caching and data-access algorithms
    • deploy and support Linux services and Grid Middleware on the GridPP Tier1 Service
    • management of resource and allocation between competing data-processing tasks in pursuit of the goals of the experiment
    • maintenance and curation of the resident datasets and databases; recovery of data due to technical failures at the site
    • operation, management and debugging of data transfer, data consistency checking and data curation tools
    • working with other centre operations staff and with the relevant experiment data operations teams, to plan and execute the data processing programme at the centre
    • working with other centre staff to specify, develop, test and deploy new hardware and systems and to ensure that they meet requirements as data volumes increase by more than an order of magnitude
    • support of local and remote users of the Tier-1 centre
    • liaison with and support for, Tier-2 centres relying upon the Tier-1 for data access
    • technical contribution to the ongoing development of tools and facilities that will be required during the very steep ramp-up to design luminosity and beyond
    • act as liaison between Tier-1 and the CMS Collaboration
    • contribute to the broader programme of the LHC experiments.

Knowledge and experience

You should have a degree (or equivalent qualification or experience) in a scientific, mathematical or relevant technical subject. A PhD or equivalent in experimental particle physics would be an advantage.

Experience of working in large particle physics collaboration will be a strong advantage.

You should have an excellent user-level knowledge of Unix (preferably Linux) and ideally have some experience of Linux system administration.

Experience installing and running LHC experiment software, Grid Middleware or Open Source services such as Apache or MySql is highly desirable.

You should have a good understanding of the problems associated with building, installing and running applications and servers and programming skills in any of Perl, Python, C, C++, Fortran or Java.

Experience developing or using Grid middleware would be an advantage as well as a working understanding of TCP/IP, network operation and performance tuning would be desirable.

Good communication skills, both verbal and written are essential as interaction with a wide range of scientists and project members will be required.

An ability to self-motivate and to work both independently and as an effective member of a team will be essential.

Shortlisting Criteria

Candidates for Band E must have at least one of the starred items plus four other desirable qualities.


  • a degree in a scientific, mathematical, or IT subject or equivalent experience
  • Unix user experience
  • experience of large scale computing systems or Unix system administration or grid software development
  • programming in any of Perl, Python, C, C++, Fortran or Java.


  • PhD or equivalent in high energy particle physics*
  • research experience in experimental particle physics*
  • experience with GRID middleware such as LHC Computing Grid, Open Science Grid, Globus, or EGI*
  • strong user level experience of Unix/Linux
  • ability to provide IT support to scientific user
  • Unix/Linux system administration
  • understanding of TCP/IP, network operation and performance tuning of network applications
  • building, operating and maintaining of Unix/Linux application and client/server software
  • application debugging and fault diagnosis
  • experience working as a member of a large international project/collaboration
  • experience with CMS Collaboration software.

Interview Criteria


  • good interpersonal skills
  • ability to work as a member of a local team of about 10 people
  • ability to work as a member of a large international project
  • ability to work independently and manage small projects
  • ability to diagnose faults and analyse problems and data
  • able to represent the team to the projects using the service, taking part in routine operational meetings where necessary
  • ability to present your work to an audience.

In addition to the competitive salary, an excellent index linked pension scheme and generous leave allowance are offered. Full details of offered benefits can be found on STFC’s careers page.

From April 2018, UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. The vision for the new organisation is to be the best research and innovation organisation in the world. From 1 April 2018 your employer will be UK Research and Innovation. More information can be found online

Please include the names and contact details of two referees in your cover letter, at least one of whom should be contactable for a reference before the interviews.

Once you have applied, please email to confirm your application.

Online applications only, please submit a covering letter and CV, ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the file name description of each document uploaded. No Agencies.

The closing date for applications is 14th March 2018.

We want to make our application process as easy for you as we possibly can. If you experience any problems in applying for this job, or have any feedback for us about the application process, please contact our Recruitment Hotline on 01793 867000 (8.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday). Please quote the appropriate IRC reference number when calling.