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Postdoctoral Researcher, Modeling of Martian Habitability

Houston, Texas (US)
Closing date
Dec 16, 2021
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Job Details

The Universities Space Research Association’s Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow in Modeling of Martian Habitability. Applicants should have a recent Ph.D. received within the past two years in planetary science, astrobiology, astronomy, physics, geoscience, or a related field. Applicants who are currently completing a PhD are also welcome to apply if they expect degree completion by the beginning of Summer 2022. 

The successful candidate will join Drs. Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín, staff scientist at the LPI, and Justin Filiberto, Branch Chief in ARES at NASA JSC, in studying the habitability of ancient and modern brine systems on Mars. Magma-sediment interaction is known to produce habitable environments on Earth. The incumbent will work to investigate the habitability of these systems by geochemically modeling brine formation and evolution during the cooling of such high-temperature events, particularly informed from field site data obtained by the international team. The candidate will also investigate modern brine formation on Mars by modeling the near-surface water cycle using experimental insights, as well as in situ environmental measurements and global circulation models. 

At the LPI, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to interact with scientists of many specialties (see including scientists from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). Additionally, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to carry out an independent research program and contribute to public and science community engagement events at the LPI, including the Brines Across the Solar System ( conference initiative. The successful candidate will also be encouraged to propose for external funding and participate in grant review panels, and NASA Planetary Science analysis and assessment groups. 

This position is for two years with a possible one-year extension, pending funding and performance. Required expertise includes: experience in numerical modeling, brine chemistry, proficiency in a common programming language (e.g., MATLAB, Python) and a brine chemistry software (e.g., CHIM-XPT, PHREEQC, Geochemist’s Workbench), and demonstrated knowledge of planetary habitability and astrobiology. The candidate must also be able to pass a government background investigation. Due to security restrictions, citizens of U.S. State Department Designated Countries (see link under “ECP Notices” at are not eligible. 

Interested applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers  application material submitted outside of this platform will not be considered. The required application material includes: (1) cover letter evidencing the qualifications of the applicant to this position, (2) curriculum vitae with list of publications, (3) two- to three-page statement of research interests and plans describing the candidate’s expected independent research program at the LPI, and (4) list of at least three professional references. Application material should be uploaded as a single document. Review of candidates will begin on December 03, 2021; however, applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

Questions about expected tasks can be addressed to Dr. Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín (; other questions should be addressed to Cynthia Svambera (, LPI’s Human Resource partner. 

Effective December 8, all USRA employees must be fully vaccinated (2 weeks past final dose) unless they are entitled to a reasonable and legal accommodation. If you are not vaccinated, please consider getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact your HR Recruiter for further information.

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


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 engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other customers - on schedule and within budget. Applicants should apply to the posting at and must include a letter of interest, a Curriculum Vita with list of relevant publications, a brief (maximum three pages) 5-year research plan, and a list of three references. Requested materials must be received by August 1, 2014. Additional information on current research and facilities at the LPI can be found on our website at The Universities Space Research Association is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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