We are seeking a qualified candidate to fill a 4-year Ph.D position in the Exoplanets & Exoclimes Group (PI: Prof. Kevin Heng), which specialises in the theory, simulation and phenomenology of exoplanetary atmospheres. The intention of the Ph.D position is to train an expert in the design and application of general circulation models (GCMs), which are three-dimensional solvers of the fluid dynamics equations on a sphere that are used to simulate the climates of Earth, Solar System planets and exoplanets. Within the group, we have designed and developed a customised GCM named THOR, which is publicly available to the exoplanet community (https://github.com/exoclime/THOR). THOR has been used to study a range of exoplanets from hot Jupiters to terrestrial exoplanets. The successful Ph.D candidate will work with a team of experts to use THOR for studying atmospheric physics/chemistry and also to aid in the interpretation of telescope data.
A master’s degree in physics, astrophysics, computer science, atmospheric science, or equivalent, is a strict prerequisite for application. As GCMs are complex computer codes, the ideal candidate needs to have a strong background in scientific computation (C++, CUDA, Python) or be strongly determined to learn it. Furthermore, the ideal candidate has good communication skills, is self-driven and has the ability to organise her/his/their work efficiently. Within the group, there are experts in fluid dynamics (Dr. Russell Deitrick), radiative transfer (Dr. Daniel Kitzmann), atmospheric chemistry (Dr. Kitzmann) and atomic/molecular opacities (Dr. Simon Grimm), who will act as collaborators and/or co-supervisors for the successful candidate. Other postdoctoral members of the group include Dr. Kaustubh Hakim and Dr. Brett Morris. Current students in the group are Chloe Fisher, Kathryn Jones, Sinan Li, Anna Lueber and Andrea Guzman-Mesa. Additionally, Ambizione Fellow Dr. Graham Lee, who is a GCM expert, is part of the intellectual ecosystem. Other collaborators include Dr. Joao Mendonca at DTU.
The Ph.D position is for 4 years at the University of Bern, Switzerland, including the first 2 years of probation. The annual salary is set by a predetermined matrix from the University and Canton of Bern, and is about 47 kCHF (pre-tax) during the first year. Child allowance and maternity/paternity leave are offered. There are ample funds for travel, publications and computers. The successful candidate will participate in group meetings, journal clubs, research discussions, attend seminars and colloquia, interact with research visitors, travel to conferences, etc. We are fully committed to training a professional researcher who will compete effectively for academic positions if he/she/they choose(s) to. The Ph.D position is funded through a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation and starts in fall 2021 or spring 2022 (negotiable), depending on the pandemic.
To apply, please send a single PDF file containing the following five components: I. a cover letter listing the names of referees/references (minimum 2 referees, ideally 3 referees); II. personal statement of interest explaining your motivation for pursuing a Ph.D in astrophysics specialising in exoplanet science and atmospheres (maximum of 2 pages); III. CV (1 page maximum); IV. list of publications (if applicable); V. transcripts of your grades of courses obtained during your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Close attention will be paid to the personal statement of interest. The single PDF file should be sent to Prof. Kevin Heng (kevin.heng ‘at’ csh.unibe.ch). It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the letters of recommendation from the referees/references are sent directly to Prof. Heng. The application deadline is 31st May 2021, but the review of applications begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled.