Senior Optical Engineer

Senior Optical Engineer

locationUnited States
PublishedPublished: 4/5/2024
Full Time


Senior Optical Engineer

Harvard Medical School


Position Description

Harvard University is launching a nation-wide initiative around platforms for microfluidics and optical engineering. The DARTS project is a large, high-profile, multi-institutional project that focuses on developing microfluidics and microscopy tools to capture microbes from clinical samples and identify the antibiotics to which they are sensitive. We are searching for an optical engineer to work with our team to accomplish these goals. This position will work closely with researchers who have developed prototype instruments, and will engage with faculty, researchers and corporate partners to develop these prototypes into robust instruments that can be used in real world contexts.

In this position, you will design, build, and test advanced microscopes and other imaging-based approaches that push the limits on speed, resolution, content, and throughput using: 1) live-cell super-resolution methods (e.g.. SIM, QPM and Fourier Ptychography); 2) label-free methods (e.g. FLIM, hyperspectral imaging and Raman; 3) hardware designed for ultra-fast and ultra-high-throughput imaging (e.g. printable micro-lenses and complex light-guides, optimized stages, hardware triggers, exposures, etc.); 4) custom-written drivers and work-flows; and 5) machine-learning integrated into multiple stages of data-acquisition and processing. You will recruit and manage a small staff group to help test and enhance microscope performance. We expect multiple publications and patents to be produced as a result of this work, in which you will participate as appropriate.

The ideal candidate will have broad experience in optical physics, control theory, hardware design, programming, and robotics.

Key responsibilities:1. Optical design and assembly of super-resolution microscopes for live-cell imaging.
2. Develop hardware and software for ultra-fast, ultra-high-throughput imaging.
3. Implementation and testing of imaging systems to measure microbial growth in microfluidic devices.
4. Develop and validate image pre-processing routines for image analysis, including machine learning techniques.
5. Develop and document microscopy workflow and protocols.
6. Produce reports on progress for funder; participate in writing patents and publications.
7. Recruit, train and manage 2-3 support staff.

Basic Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience required.
  • Minimum of 8 years’ relevant work experience.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Master’s degree preferred, with a minimum of 8 years’ combined educational and work experience.
  • Hands-on experience with optical design, prototyping, assembly, and testing required.
  • Ph.D, advanced understanding of optical physics, and post-doctoral experience preferred.
  • Experience with machine learning in the context of hardware control or image processing preferred.

Additional Information

This is a term position with an end date of September 26, 2026, with the possibility of extension, contingent upon work performance and continued funding to support the position. 

The health of our workforce is a priority for Harvard University. With that in mind, we strongly encourage all employees to be up-to-date on CDC-recommended vaccines.

Please note that we are currently conducting a majority of interviews and onboarding remotely and virtually. We appreciate your understanding.

The Harvard Medical School is not able to provide visa sponsorship for this position.

Not ready to apply? Join our talent community to keep in touch and learn about future opportunities! (https://www.gem.com ?formID=16341e35-cbc6-4904-88a3-09b35763307e)

Work Format Details

This position is based primarily on-campus, in Massachusetts. This may include in-person during emergency situations (if applicable). Additional details will be discussed during the interview process. Certain visa types may limit work location. Individuals must meet work location sponsorship requirements prior to employment.


We invite you to visit Harvard's Total Rewards website (https://hr.harvard.edu/totalrewards) to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.

Job Function


Department Office Location

USA - MA - Boston

Job Code

395059 Engineer

Work Format




Salary Grade



Systems Biology


00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Time Status


Pre-Employment Screening

Education, Identity

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

We are committed to cultivating an inclusive workplace culture of faculty, staff, and students with diverse backgrounds, styles, abilities, and motivations. We appreciate and leverage the capabilities, insights, and ideas of all individuals. Harvard Medical School Mission and Community Values


EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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