Postdoctoral Research Associate in Space Circular Economy

Updated: 4 days ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Space Circular Economy (
Job Number:
Faculty of Business
Grade 7: - £37,099 - £44,263 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 16-Apr-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

Working at Durham University   

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a warm and friendly place to work, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. 

As one of the UK’s leading universities, Durham is an incredible place to define your career. The University is located within a beautiful historic city, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounded by stunning countryside. Our talented scholars and researchers from around the world are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.   

We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things in the world. Being a part of Durham is about more than just the success of the University, it’s also about contributing to the success of the city, county and community. 

Our University Strategy is built on three pillars of research, education and wider student experience, but also on our keen sense of community and of inspiring others to achieve their potential.  

Our Purpose and Values  

We want our University to be a place where people can be free to be themselves, no matter what their identity or background. Together, we celebrate difference, value one another and are each responsible for creating an inclusive community that is respectful and fair for all. 

Find out more about the benefits of working at the University and what it is like to live and work in the Durham area on our Why Durham? information page.    

The Role and Department 

Dynamic and vibrant, Durham University Business School is one of Durham University’s four Faculties and is comprised of three research-intensive departments: Accounting, Economics and Finance, and Management and Marketing. Known for its global reputation, its impact on policy and practice and its strong focus on ethics, responsibility and sustainability, the school aims to be a leading European business school with a strong global presence by 2027. The school currently has 180 academic and teaching staff, with plans and resource commitments to grow to 230 by 2027. In addition, 11 funded research centres ( ) blend leading theoretical perspectives with a strong emphasis on impact and engagement with practice, noted in . The school’s student population is around 4000, across undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes.   

Our vision is to lead business thought and practice to improve global wealth and well-being. Our associated mission is to create, share and use knowledge to deliver equitable and sustainable futures around the world. We pursue this mission by advancing world-changing knowledge and securing global impact through increasingly collaborative research across disciplines and around the world.  

Our department is part of the triple-accredited Business School, home to academics whose research is internationally renowned for intellectual rigour and for the benefits it brings to the society. We work closely with business partners around the world, sharing insights, supporting innovation, and educating tomorrow’s leaders. More details about our research, teaching, and business connections can be found on our website


The Role 

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to support the research project, “Evaluation of Space Debris and Its Potential Usage for a Circular Space Economy”. 

The project will focus on developing optimal circular-economy pathway for end-of-life satellites and space debris considering the best-use configuration among various alternative potential usage. Specifically, you will work on material characterisation and value assessment and cost modelling of space-based objects and space debris. This will involve: 


1.    Determining the aggregate material content of the space-based objects leading to the development of a catalogue of material composition of satellites 

2.    Developing material degradation models and estimating the material properties based on life and degradation. 

3.    Developing machine learning models to predict the material content and properties for other satellites for which data is not available. 

4.    Determining the total value of individual parts, sub-assemblies and assemblies and the material content 

5.    Developing cost models to estimate the processing costs for different applications- in-orbit servicing, in-space manufacturing, manufacturing for Space and logistics back to earth for use in earth.  

6.    Determining the value of reusing, recycling, remanufacturing of parts and materials for different applications- in-orbit servicing, in-space manufacturing, manufacturing for Space  


The successful applicant will work alongside the project PI, Prof. Atanu Chaudhuri, and Mr. Ralph Dinsley from project partner 3S Northumbria Limited, Prof. Lenos Trigeorgis and Dr. Zsofia Toth. The role is funded by Durham University Business School’s Smart & Scale initiative which is an interdisciplinary impact-driven research programme in smart and scale-up activities, focusing on innovation and business development of SMEs in the North-East of England. 


Key responsibilities:  

·         To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research project and the industrial partner in identifying appropriate dataset, analysing the dataset, developing, and building appropriate models 

·         To conduct interviews and stakeholders with Space industry experts and other researchers in the Durham University Responsible Space Innovation Centre 

·         To facilitate publishing high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder. 

·         To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research project and offering creative or innovative solutions.  

·         To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences. 

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

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

·         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.    

This post is fixed term for 24 months and may not be extendible for a further length of time. 

The post-holder will have opportunity to participate in activities organised by Durham University Responsible Space Innovation Centre as well as Space industry related activities organised by Centre for Strategy, Technology, Innovation and Operations at Durham University Business School.   

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by June 2024. 


The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her 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. 

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 – please include or delete if not applicable.  
•    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. 


Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key component of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our Purpose and 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 colleagues undertake activities that are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.  

We welcome and encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented in our work force, including people with disabilities and from racially minoritised ethnic groups.  

If you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on the volume and recency of your research outputs and other activities, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will take this into account when evaluating your application.  

The University has been awarded the Disability Confident Employer status. 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  

For informal enquiries please contact Prof Atanu Chaudhuri. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence: [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).   

University contact for general queries about the recruitment process  

[email protected]   

How to Apply   

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.   

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.   

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. 

What to Submit  

All applicants are asked to submit:  

·         A CV and 

·         A maximum two-page cover letter which details your experience, strengths, and potential to meet the essential and, if appropriate, desirable criteria listed above. 

·         Two (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference 


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 presentation to staff and students in the Department followed by an interview] and we anticipate that the assessments and interviews will take place over two days in April 2024. 

In the event that you are unable to attend in person 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 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. 

Person Specification  

Essential Criteria: 


·         A good first degree in relevant subject (Science, Engineering disciplines) 

·         A PhD (or be close to submission) in Space Science/Space Exploration Systems, Mechanical/Metallurgical/Production/Industrial Engineering, Materials Science/Physics/Chemistry with genuine interest in Space Sustainability and expertise on materials characterisation, materials degradation modelling, cost modelling and materials valuation, advanced mathematical modelling/machine learning and coding skills in Python/R etc.   



·         Experience in conducting high quality academic research. 
Collaborative working with industry and business 


·         Knowledge of materials science, material properties, and mathematical modelling  

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

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

·         Excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 


Desirable Criteria  


·         Experience of developing high quality impactful research  

·         Have experience of publication record in peer-reviewed journal/established conferences, commensurate with stage of career. 

·         A track record of communicating research at academic conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career. 

·         Experience in working in complex project environment with multiple partners. 



·         Knowledge of Space exploration, Space Sustainability, Circular Economy  

·         Knowledge of trends and dynamics of Space Industry, initiatives and regulations related to Space Sustainability proposed by UK, European Union and USA   

·         Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 

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