Postdoctoral Research Associate in Planetary Sciences

Job description

The Small Bodies Group in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park invites applications for up to two Postdoctoral Research Associate positions to work with Tony Farnham and Jessica Sunshine on studies involving the composition and evolution of small bodies in the Solar System. Specific topics of interest include:

  • Sublimation processes and modeling to investigate the evolution of cometary surfaces.
  • Modeling and/or simulation of granular flows in microgravity environments.
  • Mapping the distribution of organics on Ceres.

Desired skills include experience with the reduction and analysis of spacecraft imaging and spectral data, development and execution of computer simulations, knowledge of spectroscopy, and/or experience in interpreting morphologic features.

The UMD Small Bodies Group specializes in remote sensing observations, both ground-based and space-based, and theoretical modeling, primarily of comets, asteroids, and the Moon. Our group has been involved with multiple spacecraft missions and instrument teams, including Deep Impact, EPOXI, Chandrayaan-1, Dawn, Rosetta, Stardust NExT, Lucy, and DART. We are also at the forefront in using current and upcoming facilities to study small bodies, including JWST, TESS, LSST, LDT and numerous other ground-based observatories. UMD also operates the Small Bodies Node of NASA's Planetary Data System, which maintains all mission data related to small bodies in the Solar System.

Candidates for this position should have a Ph.D. in Physics, Astronomy, Planetary Science or a related field, which must be obtained by the time of the start date. We recognize that strength comes through diversity and actively seek and welcome candidates with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. We encourage women and minority candidates to apply.

Those interested in applying should send a CV, a short statement (no more than 2 pages) of research goals and their experience related to the above topics and arrange for three letters of reference to be sent electronically to: The positions will remain open until filled.

The appointment(s) will be for two years with a possible third year extension based on performance and funding availability. Requests for additional information should be sent to

The University of Maryland, College Park, an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment. The University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, protected veteran status, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, creed, marital status, political affiliation, personal appearance, or on the basis of rights secured by the First Amendment, in all aspects of employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

posted: 28 January 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.