Postdoctoral Research Assistant

University of Reading - Meteorology

We are looking to recruit a postdoctoral research assistant to investigate the aerodynamics of ice particles in the atmosphere, using 3D-printed analogues. This is a new 3-year project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

You will build on initial work pioneered here at Reading (see DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074130). Real snowflakes are complex three-dimensional structures, and we know very little about the aerodynamics of such particles. Unfortunately, field experiments in natural snowfall are fraught with practical difficulties.

To overcome this problem, you will design and fabricate plastic “snowflake analogues” using 3D printing techniques. This will allow us to produce complex, intricate three dimensional geometries of the kind observed in the atmosphere, and to study their aerodynamics in a series of systematic, controlled laboratory experiments, without the particles melting, evaporating or fragmenting. Experiments will be conducted using both scaled-up models falling in liquids (exploiting dynamic similarity) as well as life-size models falling in air.

You will also undertake a series of Particle Imaging Velocimetry experiments, using a state of the art facility at the Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Leeds. We will use the information from these experiments to visualise the flow around the falling particle, and to calculate the influence of airflow on snowflake growth rates.

You will be part of the vibrant, research-intensive Department of Meteorology here at the University of Reading (see for more info).

You will publish your results in peer-reviewed journal articles, and present your work at conferences/meetings, and will work with external partners to achieve the project aims and follow through the impact of your results to improvement of numerical weather and climate models.

You will have:

  • A PhD (or expectation that one will soon be awarded) in a physical science.
  • Research experience in either fluid dynamics (could be experimental, computational or theoretical, not necessarily related to falling particles) or cloud physics.
  • Programming and data analysis skills in MATLAB, Python or other scientific programming language/environment.
  • A willingness to learn new skills, and to collaborate with others to achieve your aims.

Informal contact details
Contact role: PI of Project
Contact name: Dr. Chris Westbrook
Contact phone: (+44) 0118 378 5570
Contact email:

Interview date to be confirmed

The University is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce and we welcome applications for job-share, part-time and flexible working arrangements which will be considered in line with business needs.

Share this job
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:


South East England