Postdoctoral Researcher, ARES

Houston, Texas (US)
Jun 25, 2021
Jul 25, 2021
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The Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Universities Space Research Association’s (USRA) Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), both in Houston, Texas, invite applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in the areas of geochemistry and experimental petrology focusing on the planet Mercury.

The successful candidate will work as part of a team of planetary scientists at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The project is funded by NASA to systematically define the geochemical affinity (e.g., partitioning behavior) of major, minor, and trace elements in the presence of sulfur under reduced conditions through a multi-faceted, experimental, geochemical, and analytical study of compositions critical to our understanding of the fate of elements during the differentiation of reduced planetary bodies like Mercury.

Essential duties and responsibilities of this position include: 

  • Conduct high pressure and high temperature experiments under highly reduced conditions relevant to Mercury.
  • Analyze experimental charges via scanning electron microscopy (SEM), electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), and laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS).
  • Conduct micro X-ray absorption near edge structure (μ-XANES) spectroscopic analyses at the S K-edge on experimental charges at a synchrotron facility.
  • Present results of this research at conferences/workshops and publish results in refereed journals of repute for this field of research.

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. The position would be a two-year appointment. 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. Technical questions should be addressed to Dr. Kathleen Vander Kaaden ( Interested applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and must submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae with list of publications, a two- to three-page statement of research interests and plans, and a list of at least three professional references. This position will remain open until filled. 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.