The Alien Earths Iniative is a newly funded research effort based at the Harvard College Observatory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We are pursuing interdisciplinary research aimed at identifying and characterizing the closest habitable extrasolar planets with the ultimate goal of studying their atmospheres spectroscopically. The Initiative includes several related activities, including (1) an effort to improve the radial velocity precision achieved by the HARPS-N spectrograph, and to use it to measure the masses of Kepler-detected planets, (2) the use of the MEarth-North and MEarth-South observatories to search for planets transiting nearby M-dwarfs, (3) laboratory studies of clouds and their impact on spectroscopic studies of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, (4) laboratory studies of the production rates of biosignature gases, and integration of these findings into models of exoplanet atmospheres, and (5) theoretical and telescopic studies designed to estimate the limits of sensitivity to atmospheric biosignatures that could be achieved both with current and future telescopes, notably the Giant Magellan Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.
We are searching for a postdoctoral fellow to pursue the final activity listed above: We expect the individual to both undertake theoretical calculations and conduct on-sky tests with extant facilities, with the ultimate goal of identifying the optimal strategy for detecting biosignatures in the atmosphere of a transiting exoplanet. The individual would be advised by David Charbonneau and work with other members of the Initiative.
Each applicant should email, as a single PDF file, a statement of at most 2 pages explaining her or his interest and qualifications for the position, a current CV, and list of publications. Applicants should also request for 2 letters of recommendation to be sent directly from the writers by the deadline.
Appointments are for one year, with renewals for a second and third year likely, contingent upon satisfactory progress. We would like the successful applicant to be able to commence work as soon as possible. The salary is competitive, and health benefits and relocation allowance are provided. Harvard University is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. Women and members of minority groups are especially welcome to apply.
Email inquiries and application materials to firstname.lastname@example.org