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Postdoctoral Researcher, ARES Geochronology

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

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Geochronology at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

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 term posting for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Geochronology. 

The successful postdoctoral fellow will support geochemical and geochronological investigations for two projects in Dr. Justin Simon’s research group: one focused on planetary samples and the second on terrestrial planetary analogs. In the first project the primary focus is on relatively evolved Apollo samples and achondrites. We seek a postdoctoral fellow to do comparative geochemical and isotopic studies with the goal to develop hypotheses and tests for various modes of planetary differentiation, a fundamental process that shapes planetary bodies. Specifically, tasks would focus on developing small-scale sampling techniques to conduct K-Ca and Rb-Sr chronological investigations of clasts of ancient crustal materials to explore the nature and timing of complex processes occurring during planetary crustal formation. The second project is to refine dating methods for cementation of volcanic materials using terrestrial analogue materials, similar to those expected in the Mars returned sample cache. Secondary phases (carbonates, phosphates, sulfates, clays) tend to be enriched in aqueously mobile elements, such as large ion lithophiles (i.e., K, Rb, and Cs). Radiometric dating of these analogue materials using the K-Ca and Rb-Sr systems would be performed in the CICG facilities at JSC.

The postdoctoral 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 

Applicants for this position should have a Ph.D. in a planetary and space sciences-related field and a strong publication record. Fellows will be provided highly competitive levels of salary, research support, and travel support for two years, with possible extension for another year. 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.

Interested applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers. 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 1st, 2021; however, applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

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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