Two Doctoral (PhD) Positions in Coupled Interior-Atmosphere Evolution of Venus and Rocky Exoplanets (4 years)

Two doctoral (PhD) positions are available in the Institute of Geophysics of ETH Zurich within the framework of a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project "Coupled interior-atmosphere evolution of Venus and rocky exoplanets from magma ocean to the present day". The funding is for a maximum of 4 years and the starting date is between 1st June and 1st October 2024. The application deadline is 1st May 2024.

The evolution of rocky planets is a fundamental enigma in planetary science, linked to the question of habitability. Understanding how planets change over time and what differentiates the Earth from its cousins (Venus, and beyond) requires a solid understanding of the processes that have linked the interior of planets to their atmospheres since their origins. On the one hand, the ongoing discovery of rocky exoplanets (around 200 to date) and the study of their atmospheres will make it possible to draw up a catalogue of the many possible evolutions in the universe. On the other hand, Venus is also recognised as a keystone in planetary research efforts, being the most Earth-like planet in the Solar System, an astonishing example of divergent evolution and an analogue on which to test our theories with more complete data than for any other exoplanet. This project is to study how the interior and atmosphere of rocky planets influence each other, and how these interactions govern their evolution from their origins (at the time of the magma ocean) to the present day. We are using state-of-the-art numerical simulations to reproduce as realistic a picture as possible of the processes at work and the climate of the planets studied. The near future will bring an explosion of observations of exoplanet atmospheres and the renewed exploration of Venus (no fewer than 6 missions are planned) will provide a unique opportunity to unravel its mysteries. The project will enable us to take advantage of these two sources of data and further our knowledge of the habitability of planets, the causes of changes in their surface conditions, their distant past and their future.

Job description

Your tasks will be:

  • To further develop and couple existing numerical models of mantle convection, magma oceans, atmospheric chemistry and surface interaction and recycling, to be applicable to Venus and rocky planets in general.
  • To perform state-or-the-art numerical modelling of coupled (interior-atmosphere) planetary evolution.
  • To compare modelling results to observations of Venus and of exoplanet atmospheres.
  • To present results at conferences and in written research papers.

One doctoral student will focus on the coupled atmospheric physics/chemistry + chemical magma ocean model then use it to model coupled atmosphere and magma ocean evolution, while the other will work on implementing mantle volatile transport and the surface-atmosphere interaction and recycling model, then model the long-term atmosphere-interior evolution of exoplanets, although there is some flexibility to make best use of your skills.


  • MSc in Earth science, planetary science, atmospheric science, physics, computational science, or related field.
  • Strong programming and other computing skills.
  • Sound knowledge of the English language, both oral and written.
  • Ability to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Keen interest in expanding our knowledge about other planets.
  • A curious mind, a positive attitude, a love of research.

Further information and to apply

For further information and to apply see here. Applications are accepted only via the website at this link, until 1st May 2024. For questions and general information contact Professor Paul Tackley at

posted: 08 April 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.