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Post-Doctoral Research Associate: Observational Astrochemistry with JWST

The Open University - Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Role: Full time, Fixed Term Contract for 36 months

Closing Date: 8 January 2024, 12:00 (noon)

Interview Date:  Interviews will be held in person at our Milton Keynes campus on 19 January 2024. Applicants shortlisted for interview will be expected to deliver a 30-minute presentation of their research as part of the interview process, and complete a short scientific programming task to be submitted prior to the interview, analysis of which will form part of the interview process.  

It is expected that the successful candidate will work full time in the research environment at Milton Keynes, taking up their post no later than 1 March 2024. Some travel for conferences and international collaborations is required.

The role 

The School of Physical Sciences at the Open University, UK, invites applications for a fixed-term postdoctoral researcher in Observational Astronomy. The postdoctoral research associate (PDRA) will be involved in the preparation, reduction, analysis, exploitation, and dissemination of JWST observational data from a variety of cycle 1 / 2 / 3 GT GO and ERS programmes, all of which focus on observing interstellar ices in pre-stellar phases of star-formation. The post is part of the STFC-funded project “The JWST IceAge: Chemical Evolution of Ices During Star Formation” in the OU Astrochemistry Group with Dr Helen Jane Fraser and Dr Hugh Dickinson. The overarching aim of this work is to unveil the link between solid-state ice chemistry, and the gas and dust tracers of star-formation, by connecting ice formation, ice evolution and ice destruction to the astrophysical environment in pre- and proto-stellar cores.

You will be involved in the reduction, analysis, exploitation, and dissemination of JWST observational data focusing on observing interstellar ices in pre-stellar phases of star-formation. You will be expected to lead the day-to-day data reduction, data analysis and resulting scientific publications. By exploiting existing cycle 1 / 2 GT GO and ERS JWST data, you will couple NIRCam-WFSS, NIRSpec-MSA and MIRI-MRS spectroscopic ice observations with laboratory ice spectra, and you will determine ice abundances and map the distribution of H2O, CO, CO2, and CH3OH ices at unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution. You will combine these ice-maps with sub-mm gas-phase and dust observations of the same pre-stellar cores, to gain an astrochemical understanding of the formation, evolution and destruction of ice in these regions.

You will have opportunities to disseminate your work at major national and international conferences, as well as working with international collaborators, particularly in JPL, Leiden Observatory, University of Hawaii, and University of Marseille. You will be expected to develop your JWST observing skills, and submit your own PI-led observing proposals to major facilities (i.e. JWST, VLT, ALMA, IRAM, JCMT) to develop your research independence, alongside delivering the primary goals of this project.

Skills and Experience

  • You will hold a PhD in Astronomy, Astrochemistry or a closely related field (e.g. Physics or Chemistry).
  • You will have prior experience working with (at least) one of the following observational techniques: IR astronomy (imaging or spectroscopy); sub-mm astronomy (imaging or spectroscopy); slit-less spectroscopy; photometry.
  • You will be able to evidence extensive skills in python programming for scientific data processing and analysis, using local and HPC machines, as well as experience designing and executing astronomical observations on major telescopes.
  • You will also have excellent communication skills and be able to evidence strong teamwork in scientific or engineering projects, as well as demonstrating an emerging track record of peer-reviewed publications in international scientific journals.

The full summary of duties and skills required for the role can be found within the Job Description below.

To further understand the scientific aspects of the role before applying please contact Dr Helen Fraser (helen.fraser@open.ac.uk).

If you would like to discuss the application, or recruitment process, before making an application please contact Donna Elstob at Resourcing Hub on 01908 655544, or email resourcing-hub@open.ac.uk quoting the reference 21359.

What you get in return

We have a strong commitment to providing training and development in and beyond your current role. This includes thorough induction into the organisation and regular reviews of your training and development needs.

We also offer a great range of benefits that support our employees and their families for the long term. Staff Benefits include an attractive pension proposition and 33 days holiday per annum pro rata, plus Bank Holidays and Christmas closure days.

How to apply

For further information on how to apply please visit the posting on the OU jobs page, or click on the 'Apply' link above.

Location: Milton Keynes
Salary: £37,099 per annum, or up to £39,347 (dependent on previous postdoctoral experience)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 6th December 2023
Closes: 8th January 2024
Job Ref: 21359
 
   
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