Brinson Postdoctoral Fellowship

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Sunday, October 10, 2021
Archive Date: 
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
University of California, Los Angeles
Department Name: 
Physics and Astronomy
Los Angeles
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Applications are invited for a Brinson Prize Fellowship (Postdoctoral position) with the Galactic Center Orbits Initiative (GCOI) at UCLA.  The successful candidate is welcome to start anytime between Spring and Fall of 2022 and there is funding available for up to 5 years.   The Brinson fellow at UCLA will have the opportunity to work alongside a Nobel Prize-winning mentor and a team of international collaborators on a highly unique 25-year database gathered at the W.M. Keck Observatory.  Thanks to continual improvements in the high-spatial-resolution capabilities at W.M. Keck Observatory as well as in the data analysis techniques which continue to extend the reach of Galactic Center observations, we are entering a promising new era of discovery.  With GCOI’s rich and long-term data set, post-doctoral researchers are well-positioned for exciting early-career explorations of the center of our Galaxy, one of the densest and most dynamic places in the Universe, as a laboratory for exploring the physics of supermassive black holes (SMBH) and their fundamental role in the evolution of galaxies.

Key questions and research areas could include: How does gravity work near a supermassive black hole?   What role do binary stars play in the dynamical evolution of nuclear star clusters and the creation of mergers through interaction with the central black hole and how might these connect to the creation of sources responsible for detectable gravitational waves?  What is the origin of the young stars that reside in the immediate vicinity of the SMBH,  a region where their presence is so unexpected due to strong tidal forces that should inhibit star formation?   What causes the highly variable and yet low-luminosity properties of the black hole accretion flow?   Are the long-theorized dark stars (stars powered predominantly by dark matter annihilation rather than by nuclear fusion) detectable in this region of potentially high dark matter density? What does the kinematic structure of stars (i.e., the distribution of orbits around the black hole) tell us about the history and structure of our Galaxy? How has the black hole grown in mass over cosmic time? How does star formation influence the behavior and the accretion rate of the SMBH? 

The primary responsibilities for the successful candidate will include:

- mining the existing and continuously growing astrometric and spectroscopic GCOI database for breakthrough science. 

- improving the Group’s data pipeline and data management and participating in the acquisition of new data,

- developing new science use cases for the existing and future data sets, supported with

- simulations of the astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic performance of current and planned adaptive optics systems on the Keck Telescopes and the future Thirty Meter Telescope, and,

- publishing and presenting the group’s findings.

Applicants for this postdoctoral position must have received (or expect to shortly receive) a PhD degree in astronomy, astrophysics, physics or related disciplines. Interested applicants should send a curriculum vitae, bibliography, three letters of reference, a brief statement of research interest, and proposal for how they would work with the GCOI data set and team to carry out cutting-edge science to [email protected] by Jan 30 2022.  For further information, please contact Prof. Andrea Ghez ([email protected]).

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete UC nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy please cut and paste the following link into a browser:

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Andrea Ghez