Postdoctoral Research Associate (Research Fellow) in the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Postdoctoral Research Associate (Research Fellow) in the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy (
Job Number:
 23002110)
Department of Physics
Grade 7: - £37,099 - £44,263 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 36 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Working Arrangements: This role is full time but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares
Closing Date
: 26-Jan-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The Department

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the leading UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. 

The Department is committed to advancing equality and we aim to ensure that our culture is inclusive, and that our systems support flexible and family-friendly working, as recognized by our Juno Champion and Athena SWAN Silver awards. We recognise and value the benefits of diversity throughout our staff and students.

The Department hosts one of the largest research groups in Europe dedicated to observational and theoretical cosmology, extragalactic astronomy and advanced instrumentation.  The successful candidate will join the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Institute for Computational Cosmology.  In November 2016 the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation moved into the brand-new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics building designed by the world-renowned Studio Daniel Libeskind.

The Role

The Department of Physics has a funded position for an outstanding early career researcher to join the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy. For this particular post the CEA staff would like to recruit the most promising researcher and offer them the opportunity to define the direction of their research. One CEA staff member will be assigned as a primary line manager to provide the advice and mentorship all fellows in Durham receive. Other CEA staff and colleagues in the ICC and CfAI will also be available to collaborate with the fellow and offer additional advice and mentorship.

The Department of Physics is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment. It is pledged to the Athena SWAN charter, where we hold a silver award, and has the status of IoP Juno Champion. We embrace equality and particularly welcome applications from women, black and minority ethnic candidates, and members of other groups that are under-represented in physics. Durham University provides a range of benefits including pension, flexible and/or part time working hours, shared parental leave policy and childcare provision.

Responsibilities: 

  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the mentorship of the Principal Investigator, Prof Alastair Edge, and at least one other member of the CEA staff whose work relates most closely to the fellow’s.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the CEA, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend their own research portfolio. 
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the guidance of the Principal Investigator and mentor(s).
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals 
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator and mentor(s) and offering creative or innovative solutions. 
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To engage in citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To contribute (at the level of ~ 4 hours week, including preparation time, during the two 10-week terms) to the department’s undergraduate teaching programme.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.    

In addition, your area of research is open, and you may benefit from the current CEA staff expertise in the following areas:

  • Surveys for and characterisation of binary stellar systems, particularly those containing white dwarves, neutron stars or black holes.
  • The analysis and/or interpretation of data from extra-galactic surveys 
  • The Milky Way, galactic dynamics, near-field cosmology, galaxy surveys
  • Properties of the intergalactic medium, spatially resolved and multiwavelength studies of galaxies, star formation.
  • Multi-wavelength studies of quasars, AGN, and other compact accreting systems
  • Properties of clusters of galaxies and/or the gravitational lensing they exhibit.

This post is for a fixed term of 3 years from the start date.

The post-holder is employed to work on a research direction and related projects which will be defined and agreed with by their CEA Staff mentor from the start of the position. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out solely independent research in their own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols. 

The successful applicant will, ideally, be in post by October 1st 2024.  

Working at Durham

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits: 

  • 30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year. 
  • The University closes between Christmas and New Year.
  • We offer a generous pension scheme, as a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
  • No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered. We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
  • There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally. There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University. All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities.
  • Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state-of-the-art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
  • On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
  • Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
  • The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community.
  • Discounts are available via our benefits portal including money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions.
  • A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.
  • If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools. If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas. 

Durham University is committed to equality diversity, inclusion and values.

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work. As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do. We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct. At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application. If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

Contact Information

Department contact for academic-related enquiries: Prof Alastair Edge ([email protected] )

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application.

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email. Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to  [email protected] .

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time. We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays). 

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact the astronomy secretaries at [email protected] . All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.  

Candidates should state in their application which areas they wish to be considered for.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/ . As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • A CV and cover letter which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below. 
  • A statement of research interests (no more than 3 pages).
  • A publication list. 
  • A statement on your experience with, or commitment towards, mentoring, equality, and inclusivity (of about 0.5 pages).

Submitting your application

We prefer to receive applications online.  We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates. 

Next Steps

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department. The assessment for the post will normally include a short presentation to staff in the Department followed by an interview.

The assessment for the post will include review of the submitted materials. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment as soon as possible following the closing date.

In the event that you are unable to attend in person or remotely on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.durham.ac.uk/about-us/governance/information-governance/privacy-notices/privacy-notices/job-applicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data. 

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.


The Requirements

Essential Criteria:

Qualifications

1.     A good first degree in astrophysics, cosmology, or a related subject. 

2.     A PhD (or be close to submission) in astrophysics, cosmology, or a related subject. 

Experience 

3.     Experience in conducting high quality academic research in the area of extragalactic astronomy and/or cosmology using observational and/or theoretical/computational techniques. 

4.     Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career. 

5.     A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career. In addition, the candidate will have expertise in one or several of the following: 

  • The analysis and/or interpretation of data from extra-galactic surveys 
  • Surveys for and characterisation of binary stellar systems, particularly those containing white dwarves, neutron stars or black holes.
  • Properties of clusters of galaxies and/or the gravitational lensing they exhibit.
  • The Milky Way, galactic dynamics, near-field cosmology, galaxy surveys 
  • The properties of dwarf galaxies as a probe of the nature of dark matter 
  •  Properties of the intergalactic medium spatially resolved and multiwavelength studies of galaxies, star formation. 
  • Multi-wavelength studies of quasars, AGN, and other compact accreting systems 
  • A good strategic fit with existing research expertise in the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy or the Institute of Computational Cosmology 

Skills

6.     Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.

7.     Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.

8.     Excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 

9.     To contribute to fostering a collegial working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.

10.  To engage in citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.

11.  To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.    

Desirable Criteria:

Experience 

12.  Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics. 

13.  Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals. 

Skills 

14.  Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 



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