Postdoctoral Researcher (Visiting) (McKay Fellowship)

Houston, Texas (US)
May 12, 2021
Jun 11, 2021
Career Level
Education Level
Relocation Cost

The Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Universities Space Research Association’s Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), both in Houston, Texas, are pleased to announce a new term posting for the prestigious Gordon A. McKay Postdoctoral Fellowship, honoring the accomplishments of Dr. Gordon A. McKay. Dr. McKay was a world-recognized authority on planetary igneous petrology and geochemistry, and was the leader of the ARES Research Office at JSC for over 20 years.

The McKay Fellowship recognizes and promotes excellence in research for scientists within five years of their doctorate and is intended to encourage the development of young scientists in the field of astromaterials research that involves the study of the origin, composition, structure, and evolution of the bodies of the Solar System, including the planets and their satellites, the Earth and Moon, meteorites, asteroids, comets, and dust. McKay Fellows are expected to be self-motivated and to define their own research direction and foci within the planetary sciences (defined inclusively). The McKay Fellow will be in residence at JSC while also being an employee of USRA and active at the LPI, and will be expected to interact with scientists of both organizations (see and Fellows will also enjoy access to all of JSC’s laboratories and analytical instruments on the same basis as scientific staff.

Essential duties and responsibilities of this position include:

Perform fundamental research in lunar and planetary sciences. Publish results of this research in refereed journals of repute for this field of research. A general guideline would be at least one such publication in the first year (preferably as sole or senior author) and two or more each year afterwards. Present results of this research in internationally recognized conferences and workshops in the field as oral presentations or posters. Seek external support for research activities from granting agencies starting in the second year, including partial salary support. Advise undergraduate interns and/or assist with advising of graduate students. Participate in public outreach activities at LPI and/or JSC to disseminate scientific results to the general public and to support institutional goals. Prepare reports of own scientific and other activity for required annual reporting to NASA, the LPI, and for internal LPI staff/scientist evaluation (quarterly, annual). Make contributions to focused workshops and conferences organized through the LPI, and produce material of community interest for the LPI website, newsletters and the LPI Bulletin.  Prepare and effectively manage budgets for all grants or awards as Principal Investigator or co-Investigator, staying within budget, and providing appropriate periodic reviews and reports as required by USRA, the LPI and/or JSC, and the granting agency. Applicants for this position should have (or should be receiving within 3 months) a Ph.D. in a planetary science, geoscience and/or a related space sciences field and a strong publication record. Research experience in planetary science as part of or beyond completion of the Ph.D. is strongly preferred. Excellent communication skills also are preferred. The candidate must be able to pass a detailed government background investigation and due to security issues, citizens of U.S. State Department Designated Countries (see link under "ECP Notices" at are not eligible. The Fellowship includes a highly competitive salary, with research and travel support. The term of the Fellowship is two years; extension to a third year is possible.

Questions can be addressed to Dr. Lisa Gaddis ( Interested applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and must submit a Curriculum Vita (career record) with list of publications and three professional references, and a two- to three-page statement of research interests. Further information on current research and facilities at the LPI and at JSC can be found through our website.

USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations.

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.