Postdoctoral position in Biomarkers in Planetary and Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Updated: about 19 hours ago

In the search for life in our Universe, habitability and composition are the first prerequisites and hence biomarkers for life. With current observational techniques available, the easiest way to look for biomarkers is by scrutinizing signals from atmospheres of planets. The physics and chemistry involved in atmospheres is at the confluence between chemistry and (astro)physics (e.g. molecular spectroscopy, photochemistry, atmospheric dynamics and escape). This is important because a planet’s atmosphere acts as a protective membrane that could host life forms, from the space above. It also offers key information of the conditions and the properties of the lower atmospheres and surface, including the presence of biomarkers themselves (e.g. Ozone in Earth’s stratosphere). Such signatures could be present and remain to be detected in exoplanets; this is the ultimate goal of this project. We are combining our expertise between astrophysics and chemistry to uniquely tackle this compelling question at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). We will employ a 1-D model of the atmospheric temperature, composition, density, including physical effects such as the magnetic field, photochemistry, dynamics and escape, and space weather. A team will be constructed around the postdocs involved in the collaborating group at UvA, including Master and PhD students, in order to disseminate knowledge and research activities, and develop a long term axis of research between API (Astronomy) and HIMS (Chemistry).

What are you going to do?

This is an interdisciplinary project. You will be a member of interdisciplinary research groups located at the Astronomy and Chemistry Institutes of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

You will:

  • work at the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API) in close collaboration with Van ‘ Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), in collaborations with faculty members, postdocs, Master and PhD students;
  • join the national and local Origins networks and interact with other projects within these networks;
  • be part of a stimulating and challenging environment;
  • work on models for atmospheres;
  • explore how atmospheric biomarkers can be remotely detected;
  • report your results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences.

What do we require?
  • A PhD degree in astrophysics, astrochemistry, chemistry, atmospheric studies, geosciences or related sciences;
  • good communication skills in oral and written English;
  • ability to collaborate and adapt in an interdisciplinary team (interface between astrophysics, atmospheric physics, and chemistry).

Experience in laboratory (astro)chemistry and/or geoscience is an advantage and affinity with fundamental, interdisciplinary research is helpful.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting at 1 January 2021 for the duration of 24 months (with a possibility of a 3rd year depending on funding). The starting date can be negotiated depending on the situation.    

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,709 to €4,274 (scale 10) gross per month, based on a full-time contract of 38 hours a week. This is exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Dr Jean-Michel Désert , Associate professor

About the Faculty of Science and the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API) furthers research, teaching and public understanding of astronomy. It conducts astronomical research and trains astronomers from bachelor to postdoctoral level, aiming at world-leading levels and activities.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 30 November 2020. Note, the selection process will start as soon as the applications come in.

You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications, past research and research proposal (about a couple of pages each);
  • three letters of references. The letters of references will be requested as soon as the applicants submit their applications; the deadline for receiving the reference letters is 8 December 2020.     

We will invite potential candidates for online interviews between December 2020 and January 2021.

No agencies please

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