Frequently asked questions

1. What is NRC looking for in a Plaskett Fellowship candidate?

Research excellence and potential, and readiness for an independent research opportunity, are the key attributes we seek. Specific selection criteria can be found on the job poster.

NRC operates its programs at DAO to provide, and to support, infrastructure used by Canadian university researchers and their students. To meet those ends, we are heavily involved in international programs. We are looking for people who will do excellent science in our "national laboratory" environment.

A key attribute is being able to interact significantly with the scientific staff. Astronomy staff research focuses on observational astrophysics with specific interests in galaxies, large-scale structure, stellar populations, stars, star formation, the interstellar medium, and the minor bodies of the solar system. Theoreticians who want to interact closely with the observations and observers in the above research areas are most welcome to apply.

2. I'm not Canadian. Should I even bother applying?

Most certainly. Preference is given to Canadians and Permanent Residents of Canada; however, a review of our current and former Fellows will show a mix of nationals from other countries.

3. Will I be able to get a visa/work permit? What about my spouse/partner?

The short answer to both questions is, "most likely".

Very few new employees have experienced difficulties in obtaining the appropriate documentation in the past. As in every country, however, rules and processes apply differently in each individual case, which is why we can't answer an unqualified "yes" to this question. In Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada each play a role in determining whether people are allowed to work in Canada. However, citizens of some countries with which Canada has free-trade agreements (e.g., U.S.A., Mexico, Chile), may need only present their NRC letter of offer at the border in order to be issued a work permit, with an exemption from the ESDC portion of the process. NRC Human Resources staff have a great deal of experience in these matters, and will assist you in the process of obtaining the appropriate employment authorization.

Spouses almost always are permitted to accompany "skilled workers" taking up positions in Canada, and most often are allowed to work as well under the spousal program.

4. How will I know the status of my application?

We understand that recent Ph.D.'s must write many job applications and often are frustrated by lack of feedback. We do our best to acknowledge the situation applicants face. At appropriate points in the process, we inform applicants where they stand. We do our utmost to e-mail applicants as soon as we have new information.

In the event you find yourself having to make a decision about a career choice and still haven't heard from us, please e-mail us and we will tell you whatever we can about the status of our process and how it affects your application.

5. Which formats can I use when sending you documents?

We can read most standard file formats: MS Word, rich-text format (.rtf), ASCII text (.txt), portable document format (.pdf), and postscript (.ps).

6. How firm is your deadline?

We cannot guarantee that late applications will receive full consideration. Please ensure that your application materials and letters of reference reach us by the deadline.

7. Are there any opportunities to supervise students?

Yes: interactions with local students, faculty and postdocs are welcome and encouraged, and often result in fruitful collaborations that continue for many years.

Each year NRC Herzberg hires a number of top undergraduate students from Canadian universities. Plaskett Fellows may propose to supervise or co-supervise a student to work with them on a research project. Opportunities for staff to request a student normally arise three times per year, with the number of students hired at any given time depending upon the funds available. Many Fellows (and their students) have gained valuable experience through this program.

Occasionally a Fellow's interests and experience align early enough in their appointment that they have the opportunity to be an advisor to a local graduate student. These opportunities most often result from a Fellow actively striving to get to know the faculty and students at nearby University of Victoria (UVic) or University of British Columbia (UBC).

8. I got my Ph.D. more than five years ago. Can I still apply?

Applicants must have received their Ph.D. no more than five years before assuming the Fellowship. This requirement is taken seriously by NRC, so, if you will have had your Ph.D. five or more years by the time you expect to take up a Fellowship with us, you should focus your job search strategy on other positions.

9. Are there other job opportunities for postdocs at NRC Herzberg?

Many people have gained post-doctoral experience at NRC Herzberg in the past decades through a variety of program other than the Plaskett Fellowship. NRC welcomes, and benefits enormously from, the presence of active individuals interested in participating in the scientific and technical research in Victoria, including those who wish to apply to other organizations for independent funding to work with staff at NRC. Over the years, many have come with initial support from international organizations or programs in their home country.

Staff seeking astronomers with skills to work with them on a particular project, e.g., one of the instrumentation development programs, often review Plaskett applications. Enquiries are welcome from those who are preparing to seek external funding and/or who are interested in working on one of the specific projects underway at NRC Herzberg in Victoria.

10. Why is this fellowship called "Plaskett"?
Dr. John Stanley Plaskett

The Plaskett Fellowship honours Dr. John Stanley Plaskett, the founding Director (1913 – 1934) of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Acclaimed for his studies of spectroscopic binary stars, innovative instrument design and telescope construction, and his major contributions to understanding of the Milky Way as a galaxy, John Stanley Plaskett (1865 – 1941) is recognized as the founder of astrophysics in Canada.

11. How can I find out more?

If you have not found the answer to your question on this web site, please contact us at We will try to reply as quickly as possible.