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Research Fellow in the Study of Solar System Small Bodies

Queen's University Belfast - School of Mathematics and Physics

Are you curious about the universe and would you like to be part of a leading research centre that encompasses both observational and theoretical astrophysics ?

The School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University Belfast, are seeking a highly enthusiastic Research Fellow to undertake the study of Solar System small bodies within the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC). The Solar System Group is a vibrant research team within ARC, currently comprising 2 academic staff, two postdoctoral researchers, and 3 PhD students.

As a Research Fellow, you will work with Dr. Meg Schwamb to develop and exploit next-generation tools for analysing and interpreting future Solar System moving object detections from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). Rubin Observatory science operations are planned to begin around the end of 2023, with the survey expected to discover millions of asteroids and tens of thousands of distant Solar System planetesimals.                

You will focus on developing software pipelines and utilities for LSST Solar System science and applying these techniques to present-day LSST-precursor datasets. You will lead the development of a pipeline to discover distant Solar System bodies beyond ~100 au that are not expected to be discoverable by the main Rubin Observatory Solar System Processing pipeline.

You will also have the opportunity to undertake independent research and to collaborate with other astronomers and planetary scientists in the ARC. Group members have access to all UK national observing facilities, including the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The Solar System group also participate in several international projects such as Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System), ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System), LSST:UK, HERA, and Comet Interceptor.

Fixed term contract posts are available for the stated period in the first instance but in particular circumstances may be renewed subject to availability of funding.

The successful candidate must have, and you should clearly demonstrate this in your CV/Cover letter*:

  • A PhD in astronomy, planetary science, or related field either awarded or with the applicant completing the PhD degree requirements by the time of taking the post
  • At least 3 years relevant research experience to include:
    • Experience in the reduction, analysis, and interpretation of ground-based or space-based astronomical imaging and/or spectroscopic datasets.
    • A number of high quality refereed publications in the research field, commensurate with stage of career.

*Applications should comprise a full CV, including a complete list of publications (highlighting up to five most relevant works), and a research statement (maximum two pages in length), describing your previous research experience, skill set, and future professional plans.

Please note the above are not an exhaustive list*. For further information about the role including the essential and desirable criteria please click Apply or visit 

Key Dates

Closing date: Wednesday 13 October 2021

Anticipated interview date: Wednesday 20 October 2021

Anticipated start date: Monday, 01 November 2021

Further information

Information about the School and the ARC can be found at and our attractive reward package at 

“Queen’s University Belfast is recognised as one of the most diverse organisations in Northern Ireland. We are committed to equality of opportunity, fair participation and welcomes applications from all.” However, our Fair Employment Equality Monitoring data tells us that individuals from the Protestant faith are also currently under-represented in this category of work. As such, we particularly welcome applications for this role from individuals who identify with these backgrounds and / or communities.

For further information on our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, including our work in relation to Gender Equality (Athena SWAN), LGBTQ+ inclusion (Stonewall Workplace Equality Index), Disability and Race (Race Equality Charter) please visit: and/or 

For further information and details on the University’s Staff Networks please visit:

Location: Belfast - Ireland
Salary: £34,304 to £35,326
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 13th September 2021
Closes: 13th October 2021
Job Ref: 21/109099
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