National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Gesellschaftsstrasse 6 | 3012 Bern | Switzerland
  +41 31 684 32 39

Ph.D Student in Exoplanet Science at University of Bern, Switzerland (Groups of Kevin Heng and Christoph Mordasini)

Ph.D Student in Exoplanet Science at University of Bern, Switzerland (Groups of Kevin Heng and Christoph Mordasini)

We are seeking qualified candidates to fill a 4-year Ph.D position in the groups of Prof. Kevin Heng (exoplanetary atmospheres) and Prof. Christoph Mordasini (exoplanet formation and evolution).  The Ph.D position is funded through the PlanetS National Center of Competence in Research; both Heng and Mordasini are PlanetS project leaders.  PlanetS is a national framework in Switzerland that unifies Swiss efforts in planetary and exoplanetary science across Bern, Geneva and Zurich.

The ideal candidate has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics, astrophysics or equivalent.  He/she is enthusiastic, communicative and tenacious, and is willing to work within a diverse team of researchers.  There must be a willingness and hunger to learn new things.  The research work consists of a combination of numerical modeling (developing and running computer code) and analytical work.  The scientific goal of the Ph.D project is to develop a general framework that couples the atmosphere and interior evolution of a diversity of exoplanets, ranging from super Earths to mini-Neptunes and extrasolar gas giants.  The successful candidate will work closely with Prof. Heng on atmospheric physics and chemistry, and with Prof. Mordasini on the long-term evolution of the exoplanet’s interior.  The outcome will be sets of evolutionary tracks spanning different exoplanet types, chemistries, etc, that will be used to interpret observations of exoplanets and understand physical and chemical trends, i.e., the Bern Exoplanet Tracks.

The Ph.D position is for 4 years at the University of Bern.  There will be a standard first year of probation.  The annual salary is set by a predetermined matrix from the University and Canton of Bern.  Child allowance and maternity/paternity leave are offered.  There are ample funds for travel, publications and computers.  We expect to embed the successful candidate in the Heng and Mordasini groups, and involve her/him in the full range of intellectual activities within PlanetS and the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH).  The successful candidate will participate in group meetings, journal clubs, research discussions, attend seminars and colloquia, interact with research visitors, travel to conferences, etc.  We are fully committed to training a professional researcher who will compete effectively for academic positions if he/she chooses to.  The start date is expected to be in summer or fall 2018, and is negotiable.

To apply, please send a personal statement indicating why you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D in astrophysics specializing in exoplanet science (maximum of 2 pages), a CV (1 page), a list of publications (if applicable), transcripts of your grades of courses obtained during your bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and a cover letter (1 page) listing the names of 1 to 3 referees/references.  We pay close attention to your personal motivation for pursuing a Ph.D degree.  The entire application should be submitted as a SINGLE PDF FILE to Prof. Kevin Heng (kevin.heng ‘at’ and Prof. Christoph Mordasini (christoph.mordasini ‘at’  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that three letters of recommendation are sent directly by the letter writers to Heng and Mordasini, by the application deadline of 15th February 2018.


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