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Postdoctoral Researcher, Cosmochemistry

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

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Cosmochemistry 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 Cosmochemistry. 

The successful postdoctoral fellow will conduct isotopic and trace element studies of early Solar System materials in Dr. Justin Simon’s research group. Mass dependent isotopic records for systems such as Mg, Ca, K, and Cr will be coupled with their non-mass dependent isotopic compositions and elemental measurements of petrologically distinct chondrite components (e.g., refractory inclusions, chondrules, and their rims) as well as select representative bulk chondritic meteorites to investigate questions related to the origin of isotopic heterogeneity in the protoplanetary disk and how high temperature refractory and lower temperature more volatile material are found together in carbonaceous outer Solar System bodies. In particular, the project will focus on isotopic signatures that diverge from equilibrium condensation theory. The tasks would focus on developing multi-element chemical purification isotopic methods and, for selected isotope systems, coordinated laser ablation methods. The work would utilize our recently renovated sample preparation (including a MicroMill) and clean labs, TIMS, and MC-ICP-MS facilities within the Center for Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology (CICG) at JSC. Development work would include setting up methods for in-situ isotopic analysis employing our new femtosecond laser system. The work would integrate these measurements into their petrological, mineralogical, and microtextural context. 

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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