National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
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Postdoc for Planetary Imaging Group

The Planetary Imaging Group of the Space Research and Planetology Division at the University of Bern has two positions, one Postdoc and one PhD student, available for conducting experimental research within the framework of the National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS (

The Planetary Imaging Group operates the Laboratory for Outflow Studies of Sublimating icy materials (LOSSy) developed to experiment with a variety of samples prepared as analogues for the surfaces of icy Solar System objects. Various properties of the samples are measured and then used to interpret remote-sensing datasets either by direct comparison of measured data or by using lab data as inputs or ground-truth for testing physical models. Extensive work has recently been performed on cometary analogues in the context of the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the framework of the NCCR PlanetS, we are now looking at applying our knowledge and experience with comets in the direction of protoplanetary disks observations and planetary system formation theory. Regular interactions between the various groups working on these topics within the NCCR are key for that project. The experimental work will be conducted at the University of Bern but both researchers will frequently interact with the various groups involved in the NCCR at the Universities of Bern, Zurich, ETH Zurich and Observatory of Geneva.

Ability to communicate and work with colleagues from a wide range of functional backgrounds (e.g. engineering, science, management, technical, non-technical, etc.) as part of a diverse international team is essential. The working language is English. A basic knowledge of German is desired but not required.

Postdoc position:

We are seeking a highly-motivated individual with both a good knowledge of the physics of planetary systems formation and solid experience with laboratory experiments.

The successful candidate is expected to design and conduct experiments related to the formation, evolution and destruction of icy pebbles and planetesimals in early protoplanetary disks. The data measured in the laboratory should serve as inputs to models of planetary formation and as references for comparison with observations of protoplanetary disks over various spectral ranges. The candidate will also participate in the supervision of the PhD student hired on the same project.

The ideal candidates will have a recent PhD (obtained less than two years before the starting date) in Physics/Astronomy and knowledge in the following areas and techniques:
– physics (thermodynamics, dynamics) of protoplanetary disks and planetary formation scenarios (streaming instabilities, pebble accretion…)
– design of laboratory experiments with dust and/or ice particles
– various techniques of optical imaging / photometry / spectrometry
– computer programming of laboratory equipment (cameras, sensors)
– acquisition of laboratory measurements, storage, handling, reduction and analysis of large datasets

Starting date: possible 1st of June 2018.

Duration: up to three years depending on funding and performance.

To apply, please submit electronically the following documents:

– Letter of motivation
– Academic curriculum vitae (including a list of publications, a list of courses and a list of talks given)
– Description of research interests and possible research agenda
– Contact details of people who could provide a letter of reference

to: Antoine Pommerol (
Complete applications received by April 1st, 2018, will receive full consideration. After this date, applications will be considered depending on availability.

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