Research Fellow – Exoplanets

Reference: 104065

Research Associate/Fellow

Physics

 

The work of this role is directly related to the achievement of the above Global Goals.

Website University of Birmingham

Background

The Sun, Stars and Exoplanets research group at the University of Birmingham invites inventive and talented individuals to apply for a postdoctoral research position for an ERC/UKRI funded project entitled “CandY: Circumbinary AND rockY” that starts on 01 November 2024 and finishes on 31 October 2029.

The successful applicant will work primarily with Prof. Amaury Triaud as part of the CandY project. We particularly welcome applicants with a proven track record of analysing high-resolution spectra to extract accurate and precise radial velocities, measure stellar activity and retrieve molecular features in exoplanet atmospheres at high-resolution. Experience with N-body integrators, and atmospheric retrieval are also very welcome. Candidates will be asked to go on observing missions in France and Chile.

The appointment will be for an initial three-year term starting on 01 November 2024 that has the possibility for an extension of an additional two years. The position comes with an allowance to cover international travel and computing.

Role Summary

The successful candidate will work as part of the BEBOP/CandY search for circumbinary exoplanets. The goal of the project is to discover and confirm circumbinary exoplanets, and study their atmospheric composition. For this particular role, the applicant will primarily use high-resolution spectroscopy to extract accurate radial-velocities (particularly in the context of double-lined binaries), and obtain information about exoplanets’ atmospheric composition.

  • Work within an ERC/UKRI project entitled “CandY: Circumbinary AND RockY” and to contribute to writing funding and telescope time bids
  • Operate within area of specialism, here the detection and atmospheric characterisation of exoplanets using high-resolution spectroscopy
  • Analyse and interpret research findings and results (high-resolution spectroscopy, cross-correlation methods, post-Keplerian modelling, extracting stellar activity tracers and modelling them)
  • Contribute to generating funding
  • Contribute to licensing or spin out deals with demonstrated commercial success (such as revenues, asset or company sales, IP generated) and/or public understanding of the discipline or similar

Application process

Applications should include a CV (max 2 pages) with a list of publications (as long as necessary), and a two-page statement describing your research interests and plans, and what expertise and skills you bring to the project, but also to the wider research group. Applicants should also provide contact details for 3 referees. Complete applications should be received by 21st July 2024 for full consideration.

In the form, you will get a question asking to specify your reasons to apply. You should just point to your uploaded documents.

Mirroring the fact that exoplanets are diverse, we welcome applications from all backgrounds to enrich our research group.

We anticipate interviews will take place the week starting on 12th August 2024.

Environment

The successful candidates will join a vibrant group of astronomers. The Sun, Stars, and Exoplanets group consist of six permanent researchers: Amaury Triaud, Guy Davies, Annelies Mortier, Anjali Piette, Bill Chaplin and Yvonne Ellsworth, along two main research themes: exoplanets and asteroseismology. Members of the group have responsibilities in SPECULOOS, ASTEP, TESS, Kepler and the PLATO mission. The group benefits from newly refurbished offices at the heart of a beautiful campus.

The School of Physics and Astronomy is a world-leading physics department, excelling in both research and teaching. Our physics research was recently ranked top in the UK for 4-star-category research, and 4th by GPA, by the Research Excellence Framework 2021. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Professor Mike Kosterlitz and Professor David Thouless jointly for their work into the discoveries of the properties of matter, work which started when they were at Birmingham together. The 2017 Nobel Prize was awarded for the detection of gravitational waves, in which Birmingham staff played a key role. The School is an excellent environment for an upcoming academic.

The School’s research portfolio is wide-ranging, and covers three principal themes: Quantum Matter; Particle and Nuclear Physics; and Astronomy and Experimental Gravity. It has over 120 academic and research staff together with 120 graduate students with around 50 technical and clerical support staff.

The School of Physics and Astronomy is an Institute of Physics Juno Champion since 2014 and holder of the Athena SWAN Silver Award. Both initiatives recognise the School’s commitment to promote diversity and equality, and to encourage better practice for all members of the community, whilst also working towards developing an equitable working culture in which all students and staff can achieve their full potential. We welcome applications from all qualified applicants, but applications from traditionally under-represented groups in physics and astronomy are particularly encouraged. We are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working.

Main Duties

The responsibilities may include some but not all of the responsibilities outlined below.

  • Develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research, with assistance of a mentor if required
  • Contribute to writing bids for research funding, and telescope observing time request
  • Analyse and interpret data (high-resolution optical and infrared spectra, orbital dynamics, radial-velocities, single and double-lined binaries, atmospheric data, extracting stellar activity tracers)
  • Apply knowledge in a way which develops new intellectual understanding about circumbinary exoplanets
  • Disseminate research findings for publication, research seminars etc
  • Supervise students on research related work and provide guidance to PhD students where appropriate
  • Contribute to developing new models, techniques and methods (e.g. new methods of radial-velocity extraction / spectral disentangling; modelling stellar activity.)
  • Undertake management/administration arising from research
  • Contribute to Departmental/School research-related activities and research-related administration
  • Contribute to enterprise, business development and/or public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the College and the University, often under supervision of a project leader
  • Collect astronomical data; this may be through a variety of methods, but will involve observing trips to Southern France and Chile
  • Present research outputs, including drafting academic publications or parts thereof, for example at seminars and as posters
  • Provide guidance, as required, to support staff and any students who may be assisting with the research
  • Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines
  • Promotes equality and values diversity acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive working culture.

Person Specification

  • PhD degree (or near to completion) in Physics and/with Astrophysics, and experience with high-resolution spectroscopic data analysis and a high level of statistics. Candidates with experience modelling orbital dynamics, stellar activity, and/or experience with studying exoplanet atmospheres at high-resolution will be favoured
  • High level analytical capability
  • Evidence of multiple peer-reviewed scientific publications, with preference to publications related to exoplanetology and high-resolution spectroscopy
  • Technical and practical experience in dealing with telescope will come as a bonus to any application
  • Ability to communicate complex information clearly
  • Fluency in relevant models (RV modelling, spectral disentangling, post-Keplerian fits, atmospheric modelling, cross-correlation, spectral line analysis), techniques or methods (MCMC, nested sampling, gaussian processes, principal component analysis) and ability to contribute to developing new ones
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively
  • Understanding and evidence of an ability to contribute to broader management/administration processes
  • Willingness to travel international for extended periods of time, in remote locations on Earth, and work by night
  • Contribute to the planning and organising of the research programme and/or specific research project
  • Co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort
  • Knowledge of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, and how to actively ensure in day to day activity in own area that those with protected characteristics are treated equally and fairly

DBS required 

The University is committed to safeguarding and we promote safe recruitment practice, therefore all associated pre-employment checks will be undertaken before any appointment is confirmed. Due to the nature of the work undertaken in this role all successful applicants will be subject to a satisfactory DBS clearance prior to appointment.

Informal enquiries to Amaury Triaud, email: a.triaud@bham.ac.uk

We believe there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ member of University of Birmingham staff and that diversity in its many forms is a strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate at the heart of University life. We are committed to proactively addressing the barriers experienced by some groups in our community and are proud to hold Athena SWAN, Race Equality Charter and Disability Confident accreditations. We have an Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre that focuses on continuously improving the University as a fair and inclusive place to work where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. We are also committed to sustainability, which is a key part of our strategyYou can find out more about our work to create a fairer university for everyone on our website.

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Please remember to mention The Global Academy when you apply