System Administrator

University of Washington - Genome Sciences
Job Location
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Job Description

The Department of Genome Sciences has an outstanding opportunity for a Systems Administrator – with the Stamatoyannopoulos Laboratory (Stam Lab). The System Administrator will provide IT infrastructure support required to protect and further the research of the Stam Lab. This position is critical to maintaining computer systems, engineering, administration, and support services. The majority of work will be focused on supporting a large-scale, complex, and heterogeneous scientific computing environment. The computing environment supported includes high performance clusters for scientific computing, scale storage, multiple database systems, heterogeneous desktops and servers (Linux, MacOS and Windows), and database systems in the context of a lab falling under HIPAA requirements of the School of Medicine (SoM). The research computing environment in the Stam Lab currently includes 256+ dedicated compute cores, half a Petabyte of network available disk based storage, 160 websites, and $3M in IT equipment purchased over the last 5 years. The lab is undergoing a period of aggressive growth, and these numbers are expected to double in the next 6 months.  This entails troubleshooting complex technical problems in hardware and software, providing maintenance, and implementing new systems. 

This position reports to the IT Manager for the Stam Lab.  After general consultation with the IT Manager, the System Administrator will take independent action rather than waiting for detailed instruction. He/she will independently establish procedures and achieve the outcomes agreed upon with the IT Manager. Systems outages must be carefully planned and communicated in advance. This position will work closely with Informatics Team within the Stam Lab to build and develop a variety of lab pipelines. The System Administrator will primarily work with Linux servers, but may occasionally work with Windows and Macintosh desktops.

The main responsibilities for this position are as follows:

Deploy, operate, backup and maintain servers, related network equipment, and software

  • Support and upgrade Linux server and client infrastructure
  • Monitor and optimize performance of system equipment and software
  • Respond to system alerts and take corrective action.
  • Configure and manage the lab’s computing infrastructure in a manner that meets or exceeds the UW and School of Medicine minimum security standards.
  • The solutions will need to directly address the functional requirements as determined by direct work with researchers and the other members of the IT team.
  • Includes OS and application patching monitoring with Nagios.  Hardware is a mix of Dell and NetApp, with a IBM Tivoli Storage Manager tape library.  OS is primarily RHEL6, OnTap, with a variety of client operating systems.
    • Improve provisioning and rollout of new research pipelines using automation tools such as Configuration Engine 3, kickstart, and scripting
    • This position will be assigned several large projects

Design, prototype, implement and document new systems and procedures

  • In collaboration with the IT Manager provide leadership, management, and strategic direction for all IT system infrastructure initiatives
  • To include frequent systems programming using high-level programming languages.
  • Monitor, maintain, and upgrade the Univa Grid Engine (SGE) job submission queues and troubleshoot problematic jobs.  Will involve compiling research software into modules for use on the distributed computing system.
  • Identify emerging technologies that are applicable to the lab’s needs.
  • Develop tribal expertise, learn various laboratory pipelines, and propose / initiate projects to improve efficiency and reliability.
  • Improve standardization and automate installation and configuration  using CFE3, kickstart, and scripting.  This will involve using CFE3 to automate the generation and management of config files for applications and the use of PXE, kickstart, and scripting to automate OS installation in a parallel environment..

Create in-depth technical documentation of complex systems

  • Document the lab’s computing environment, configuration, and procedures.
  • Documentation will be constructed and maintained in a manner that allows other system administrators to quickly understand the critical components of complex systems design and maintenance. 
  • Documentation will need to adhere to documentation standards.

Lead a team of work study student help desk technicians

  • Train and answer questions as needed

Meetings, Professional Development, and other Duties

  • Train staff on the IT team and provide project management for IT-related implementation projects.
  • Collaborate with other IT professionals within the School of Medicine and across the UW campus, and at other institutions.
  • Provide second tier Help Desk support to resolve system problems.
  • Attend lab and IT team meetings
  • Lead quality assessment and improvement activities
  • Perform other duties and projects as requested
  • Participate in committees and user groups relating to position as requested
  • Participate in professional development opportunities to expand knowledge base for the position

The ideal candidate will have strong communication skills with the ability to present proposed technical solutions in a concise and compelling manner. He/she must have exceptional organizational skills, commitment, and the ability to work alone with minimal supervision and in a complex teams as needed.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Informatics, Engineering, or related field
  • 4+ years’ experience providing network and computing support in a large scale Linux compute and direct attached storage environment professional setting or equivalent combination of education and experience. 
  • Experience with Linux, MacOS, and Windows based systems. 
  • Demonstrated professional competence in systems administration or systems engineering.
  • Demonstrated ability to see complex IT projects through to a timely successful completion.
  • Able to write technical documentation for users and system administrators
  • Must be flexible and cross-cover other areas outside area of expertise in times of urgency, vacations, sick leave, etc
    • Able to learn and expand skills on the job
    • Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to manage relationships, interact with researchers, explain complex technical issues
    • Excellent work ethic and strong organizational skills
    • Ability to independently set priorities and effectively handle constant interruptions
    • Ability, when necessary, to work under pressure and remain focused
  • Expertise installing, managing, and securing RedHat Enterprise Linux,  Ubuntu, and FreeBSD, .
  • Experience with Univa Grid Engine (UGE), or other Sun Grid Engine (SGE)-like parallel computing schedulers.
  • Expertise with Configuration Engine (ver 3), kickstart, and a variety of other automation tools.
  • Ability to compile code from source, and the use of the environment modules system.
  • Familiarity with common scripting tasks, in bash or sh.

Desired Qualifications

  • Experience working in an education, research, and/or biotech setting a strong plus
  • Familiar with UW and School of Medicine commuting policies, procedures, and resources
  • Familiarity with ticketing systems
About Our Organization

The University of Washington (UW) is proud to be one of the nation’s premier educational and research institutions. Our people are the most important asset in our pursuit of achieving excellence in education, research, and community service. Our staff not only enjoys outstanding benefits and professional growth opportunities, but also an environment noted for diversity, community involvement, intellectual excitement, artistic pursuits, and natural beauty.

The Department of Genome Sciences (GS) is part of the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW SoM) and is comprised of 27 labs addressing leading edge questions in biology and medicine by developing and applying genetic, genomic and computational approaches taking advantage of genomic information now available for a host of species.  GS is making major contributions in the application of genome science to understand the fundamentals of biology and to improve human health and well-being.

Genome Sciences is a collaborative department supported by very different academic disciplines.  We work with a multitude of Program Investigators (PIs) in departments both on the UW campus as well as worldwide. The department has gone through significant expansion since its beginning in 2001 with annual grant awards of $44.5M in FY14.  The department has 47 training, teaching, and research faculty.

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