The faculty of physics at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich, Germany, is seeking a long-term staff scientist with formal training in geochemistry and/or geophysics (Ph.D level), who performs research in planetary and/or exoplanetary science. The position is available for a maximum of 10 years: 6 years at the A13 level ("Akademischer Rat auf Zeit") of the German civil service, followed by 4 years at the A14 level ("Akademischer Oberrat auf Zeit") if the position holder successfully completes habilitation at LMU within the first 6 years. These are junior group leader positions intended to train future professors and research leaders. LMU is one of the oldest universities in Germany and consistently ranked in the top three nation-wide; its Faculty of Physics has a storied history of hosting Nobel laureates, including Planck and Heisenberg.
The successful candidate is ideally an expert in theory and experiments in some subset of the following topics: photochemical kinetics of planetary (within the Solar System) and exoplanetary (beyond the Solar System) atmospheres, geochemical cycles and molecular origins of life. This position serves as a crucial bridge and catalyst between the research groups of Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng (University Observatory Munich) and Prof. Dr. Dieter Braun (Systems Biophysics). Prof. Dr. Heng's group works in the theory, simulation and phenomenology of exoplanetary atmospheres, including radiative transfer, chemistry, climate modelling, Bayesian inference techniques and machine learning. His group is part of the inaugural "Chair of Theoretical Astrophysics of Extrasolar Planets" at LMU starting August 2022. The chair (an ecosystem of research groups) includes the planet formation groups of Prof. Dr. Barbara Ercolano and Prof. Dr. Til Birnstiel, as well as four staff scientists (including this position).
Prof. Dr. Dieter Braun's group works in experimental biophysics with the aim to reconstruct the first steps of molecular life with non-equilibrium microfluidic experiments. The focus is to recreate Darwinian evolution under chemically and physically plausible planetary conditions. Both research groups are part of the Origins Excellence Cluster (https://www.origins-cluster.de/) that unifies research activity in Munich and is an international, collaborative network to understand the origin and evolution of the Universe and the emergence of life. Prof. Dr. Braun is part of the Munich Origins of Life Initiative, leading the CRC 235 on the Emergence of Life (https://www.emergence-of-life.de/). Overall, the research environment is intellectually rich, highly interdisciplinary and involves frequent interaction between theoreticians, observers and experimentalists.
Applicants should submit a research proposal describing a long-term vision that broadly aligns with the aforementioned research interests of both the Braun and Heng groups. In other words, the successful candidate will further develop a research portfolio at LMU that is both intrinsically interesting to the candidate and these two research groups. There will be a startup fund of 100,000 euros (provided by the Heng chair) for designing and operating experiments in the Braun laboratory in conjunction with the Origins Cluster-funded "Ice Dust and Sequencing Lab". This lab offers a broad instrument pool for analytical and preparatory methods to probe molecules in astrophysical and geological contexts, including high resolution mass spectrometry and RNA/DNA sequencing. If the candidate is proposing experiments, the proposal should describe the scientific motivation, logistics (including space/room requirements) and approximate costs associated with them. Further funding is negotiable. There is ample funding for computational resources, travel, page charges, etc, within the chair.
Only applications that respect the following format will be reviewed: a cover letter (1 page; listing the applicant's email address and the names of three letter writers), a research statement of past, present and future activities (maximum of 5 pages), a CV (2 pages), a publication list (no limit, but longer is not always better) and a statement of teaching experience and philosophy (1 page), as well as three letters of recommendation that should be directly emailed to Kevin.Heng 'at' physik.lmu.de. Except for the letters, all components of the application should be merged into a single PDF file labelled "[last name].pdf", where [last name] should be replaced by the last name of the applicant (all lower case alphabets), and emailed to the same address. The application deadline is 31st January 2022 (Monday). The start date is negotiable.
A13/A14 appointments are elevated civil service positions ("Beamter") that come with health insurance benefits and comparatively high salaries in the German academic system. The minimum pre-tax salary is about 60,000 euros per year, depending on experience ("Stufe"); child benefits will slightly increase the annual salary. By German law, the exact post-tax salary depends on marital status and the number of children in the household (https://oeffentlicher-dienst.info/beamte/by/). The successful candidate has to be less than 35-years-old at the time of appointment. A13/A14 position holders are obliged to contribute to the teaching duties of the University Observatory Munich. Furthermore, they are allowed to compete for grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG). If DFG grants are procured, A13 and A14 position holders may co-supervise and supervise their own students/postdocs, respectively. LMU Munich is an equal opportunity employer (https://www.lmu.de/en/about-lmu/working-at-lmu/academic-careers/equal-op...).