The Exoplanets & Exoclimes Group at the University of Bern, Switzerland, led by Prof. Kevin Heng, is seeking qualified candidates for a new long-term project that has just been funded by the European Research Council (ERC). Through an ERC Consolidator Grant (awarded to Heng for 2 million euros over 5 years), the EXOKLEIN project seeks to develop a systems/framework understanding of the climates and habitability of rocky exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars. For this position, the ERC postdoc will work with Heng to develop a generalised model of the long-term carbon cycle, which regulates the carbon-dioxide content of atmospheres on geological timescales. The long-term goal is to generalise and integrate our understanding of the long-term carbon cycle into a holistic climate framework to evaluate the robustness of biosignatures.
The ideal candidate has a Ph.D in astrophysics, geochemistry or a related field. He/she is dynamic, independent, communicative, enthusiastic and optimistic, and is able to work within a diverse team. A background in geochemistry and modelling is looked upon very favourably, but a willingness to pick up the subject may compensate for a lack in background, depending on the candidate. The research work includes working with both analytical and numerical models (including some development of computer code), sourcing for geochemical reaction rates, reading and learning from papers on the carbon cycle (from the Earth climate literature), interacting with geologists, etc. The successful candidate will be embedded in the Heng group, which currently has 4 Ph.D students and 4 postdocs and will expand to 7 postdocs in the near future with this ERC project. Expertise within the Heng group includes climate dynamics, radiative transfer, atmospheric chemistry, atomic/molecular opacity calculations and inversion/retrieval techniques, in addition to a strong grounding in analytical work. There is ample access to high-performance computing facilities, if necessary. Furthermore, the successful candidate is embedded within the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH; Director: Heng) and will be surrounded by 5 to 7 independent CSH Fellows working on a diverse range of topics (csh.unibe.ch).
The ERC postdoc position is for 3+1 years at the University of Bern. There will be a standard first year of probation, while the last year of extension depends upon progress and satisfactory performance. The annual salary is between 90,000 and 97,000 CHF, depending upon experience (years after Ph.D) and is set by a predetermined matrix from the University and Canton of Bern. Child allowance and maternity/paternity leave are offered. Additionally, there is an annual budget of 5000 CHF for travel and a one-off startup fund of 10,000 CHF for purchasing computers. The start date is expected to be late 2018 or early 2019 and is negotiable.
To apply, please send a statement of past and present research interests (2 pages), a CV (2 pages), a list of publications (no page limit) and a cover letter (1 page) listing the name of 3 referees/references. The entire application should be submitted as a SINGLE PDF FILE to Prof. Kevin Heng (kevin.heng ‘at’ csh.unibe.ch). It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that three letters of recommendation are sent directly by the letter writers to Heng, by the application deadline of 31st January 2018.