Researcher in Planetary Sciences

Job description

A full-time position as Researcher in Planetary Sciences is available at the Department of Geosciences under the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

The researcher position is currently limited to a period of three years, but with the possibility for prolongation. The starting date will be decided with the relevant candidate.

The position is associated with the newly formed Centre for Planetary Habitability (PHAB), a Centre of Excellence funded for 10 years by the Research Council of Norway and organized as a section at the Department of Geosciences. One of PHAB's objectives, based on detailed studies of Earth and our solar system, is to develop predictive models to identify habitable planets around other stars. PHAB research activities comprise three interrelated research themes: (1) Planets and Early Earth, (2) Modern Earth and (3) Exo-Earths. The successful applicant is expected to take a leading role in exploring new fields of planetary and exoplanet sciences.

About the Department

The Department of Geosciences at the University of Oslo is part of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and is a leading research unit in Europe. The Department covers a wide breadth of topics, from mantle and lithosphere dynamics on Earth and other planets, via surface processes in the boundary layers between Earth's surface and atmosphere, to the dynamics and interactions in the Earth's crust, soils, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.

The Department of Geosciences has defined a strategy that focuses on four main topics that are transversal to the Department: (i): Dynamics of the solid Earth and planets, (ii) Climate change and the coupled Earth system, (iii) Environmental geosciences, and (iv) Geoscience in the Arctic. We also highlight that our laboratory, field, and computational infrastructures are critical for successful research. The Department aims to contribute to the United Nations (UN) Sustainability Development Goals and hosts important contributors to IPCC (UN's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change).

The staff consists of c. 40 professors and associate professors, in addition to postdoctoral fellows, PhD candidates, researchers, technical and administrative staff. In total, the Department hosts today around 200 employees, one Centre of Excellence (PHAB) and, at present, five grants from the European Research Council, along with numerous other grants from public and private institutions. The Department is organised in six sections: (i) Basin studies, (ii) Crustal processes (iii) Centre for Planetary Habitability (PHAB), (iv) Environmental Geoscience, (v) Physical geography and hydrology (GeoHyd), and (vi) Meteorology and oceanography (MetOs). A small group working towards geo-didactics is also organised in a section as the UiO part of the Centre for excellent education "iEarth". The position is associated to the Centre of Excellence PHAB, where we want to extend Earth System Science to other planets, testable by future ESA Plato and Ariel mission in which we are involved.

About the position

The successful candidate is expected to initiate and participate in research that is aligned with the scientific focus of PHAB. PHAB is an extremely ambitious venture, which explores new fields of planetary and exoplanet sciences, with its main objective to recognize and characterize the key conditions that make a planet habitable. The existing inhouse expertise is deeply rooted in Earth studies and comparative planetology. For this position we are seeking highly qualified applicants in two realms extending the concept of Earth System Science in studying the interaction between the solid and volatile parts of a planet and/or planet formation and evolution in the Solar System and exoplanet systems.

Applicants using theoretical, experimental, and observational approaches for both Solar System bodies and exoplanets are welcome focussing their research interest on the formation and evolution of earth-like planets. An overall goal is to strengthen planetary sciences in Norway in collaboration with Norwegian and European Space Agencies (NoSA and ESA).

The work assignments relate to research, supervision, and public outreach on the topics of planetary sciences. Most important is scientific expertise relevant to the position, capability of attracting external funds and the conduct of research on the highest level to advance the research goals of PHAB.

Research: Proving life on other planets is difficult. Observing biosignatures is still challenging but with a good understanding of how planets form and evolve, how their atmospheres came to be, it will be possible to recognize habitable planets. Therefore, we seek to extend our competence towards expertise that allows studying planet formation and evolution in (exo-)planetary systems and predict their atmospheres as the prime observable. The successful candidate shall advance research in one of the following research topics:

  • Exploring the diversity of planetary atmosphere evolution using physical-chemical models, particularly predicting planetary atmospheric structures and/or evolution of the volatile cycles through time for rocky planets (Earth to exo-Earths), the computation of relevant spectroscopic observables for planets other than Earth, and/or the comparison of models with observations for example from the geological rock record on Earth other earth-like planets.
  • Exploring the challenges of planet formation and evolution in the Solar System and exoplanet systems, including fields like the study of properties of planet interiors, planetary building stones in the Solar System, planetary evolution, habitability, planetary system dynamics, comparative (exo)planetology, and physico-chemical models of planet formation.

Qualification requirements:

Assessment of candidates will be based on scientific excellence, as reflected in the number and quality of peer-reviewed publications, scientific relevance, ability to attract external funding, and other evidence of impact. Scientific qualifications will play a major role, and the main emphasis will be on the candidate's scientific performance during the last five years. We expect a scientific track record at a high international level that demonstrates the ability to write/attract external funds and lead research projects.

Required qualifications:

  • In terms of scientific qualification, the candidate must hold a PhD in a relevant topic of the natural sciences, e.g., planetary sciences, geophysics, space science, astronomy, astrophysics or similar.
  • Postdoctoral experience.
  • Documented high quality research in a relevant field, demonstrating ability for independent and significant scientific production after the PhD. The main emphasis will be on the candidate's scientific production over the last five years.
  • Experience with attracting external research funding and leading scientific research projects.
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.

Desirable qualifications:

The following additional qualifications are desirable and will be prioritized in the assessment:

  • Documented scientific background in assessing and modelling planetary atmosphere evolution or planet formation and evolution in the Solar System and exoplanet systems.
  • Documented understanding of processes that impact atmospheres of planets in different planetary systems, of different sizes, ages, at different stellar radiation and with various tectonic regimes, or conditions that influence the composition of (exo-)planets during their formation and interaction in protoplanetary discs.
  • Demonstrated competence in relevant numerical modelling tools and/or observational or experimental applications.
  • Demonstrated experience in computational, observational, or experimental methods and their relevant application in planetary studies.
  • Proven track record of attracting external funding from the most competitive funding schemes (ERC or similar).
  • Experience in the development and redesign of courses and teaching methods, and motivation to take part in developing and improving study programs.
  • Experience with communicating university level research and education to a wider (non-scientific) audience.

Personal skills:

Be creative and innovative in your research and able to initiate new activity in line with the aim and strategy of PHAB. Building the new Centre, we wish for your strong ability to create and contribute to a well-functioning, inclusive and productive research environment. We also appreciate organizational and networking skills, ability to collaborate and conduct scientific leadership, and an international profile with respect to the above criteria. The candidate for this position will be selected based on excellence and fit with the Centre's research profile.

We offer:

  • Salary NOK minimum 646 000 - 745 000 per year depending on qualifications in position as Researcher (position code 1109)
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Professionally stimulating working environment
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Oslo's family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

The application must include:

  • Application letter with a statement of motivation and research interests.
  • A research plan (max 4 pages) describing the applicant's vision and scientific ambitions including synergies with the research aims of the Centre.
  • A detailed CV, including a complete list of education, positions, pedagogical experience, administrative experience, project acquisition and coordination experience, and other qualifying activities.
  • Copies of educational certificates, PhD diploma, transcript of records and letters of recommendation.
  • A complete list of publications and academic merits and awards (if not included in the CV).
  • A list of 3 to 10 selected scientific publications (only the references) the applicant wishes to include in the evaluation, along with a documentation of the importance, interrelation, and relevance of the selected papers for this position.
  • List of reference persons who may be contacted by the Department of Geosciences: 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and phone number).

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link "apply for this job". Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications, as well as the candidates motivation and personal suitability. Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.

Formal regulations:

According to the Norwegian Freedom and Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results a.o.

The University of Oslo aims to achieve a balanced gender composition in the workforce and to recruit people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

Contact persons:

For further information about the position please contact:

Professor Trond Helge Torsvik, e-mail:
Professor Stephanie C. Werner, e-mail:
For technical questions regarding the recruitment system please contact: HR-adviser Ole Rustad, e-mail:

About the University of Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway's oldest and highest rated institution of research and education with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. Its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally esteemed research communities make UiO an important contributor to society.

Centre for Planetary Habitability (PHAB) is a Norwegian Centre of Excellence that provides a stimulating and well-funded research environment. PHAB's main goal, based on detailed studies of Earth and our solar system, is to develop predictive models to identify habitable planets around other stars. PHAB research activities comprise three interrelated research themes: (1) Planets and Early Earth, (2) Modern Earth and (3) Exo-Earths. The centre was established in 2023 and will consist of approximately 70 full time and part time professors and researchers, PhD Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Research Fellows.

posted: 14 November 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.