36 Month PDRA Position in Planetary Sciences

Following a recent award by The Leverhulme Trust, applications are invited for a full-time PDRA position in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St. Andrews to work on the project “Looking for Life in the UV: Fluorescence as a tool for planetary exploration”. This multidisciplinary project brings together techniques from luminescence physics, geochemistry, mineralogy, organic geochemistry, microbiology, and planetary instrumentation in order to advance the robotic surface exploration of Mars and Icy Moons. The overarching objective of this project is to investigate the detection of surface mineral deposits and the organics they preserve using UV luminescence imaging and spectroscopy, and to integrate these findings into ongoing space instrument technologies.

The successful candidate will be responsible for undertaking the project in collaboration with researchers at St. Andrews, Aberystwyth, Leicester, and Edinburgh Universities. The PDRA will be responsible for (i) production of experimental mineral-organic precipitates in controlled laboratory and simulated Mars surface conditions, (ii) acquisition of planetary-analogue geological samples from existing collections and through fieldwork, (iii) laboratory characterisation of samples using a variety of geochemical techniques, (iv) UV luminescence responses of experimental and natural samples using state-of-the-art UV luminescence facilities at Aberystwyth and St. Andrews universities, and (v) using samples to test UV-hyperspectral imager prototypes currently in development at Aberystwyth University. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this project training will be provided where necessary. The PDRA will also be responsible for communicating results at international scientific meetings and publishing results in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Candidates must have a PhD in either Planetary Sciences, Astrobiology, Geochemistry, Earth Sciences, or related fields. Experience and adeptness in clean laboratory practice is strongly desirable. Candidates must be focused and ambitious, with a strong ability to work independently and with initiative. The post is full-time, fixed-term for 36 months, starting 5th October or as soon as possible thereafter.

Further Particulars and details of how to apply at St. Andrews Vacancies. For informal enquiries please email myself to discuss the project (crc9@st-andrews.ac.uk). Deadline 21st August 2015.