3 yr PhD position at Leeds University, UK, in collaboration with the Leuven University, Belgium, in the field of astrochemistry
Interdisciplinary project on the stellar winds around evolved stars at Leuven University (Belgium) and the Leeds University (UK) funded by the ERC-CoG_2014 grant AEROSOL (PI. L. Decin, University of Leuven).
Application deadline 30th June 2017.
The project and the position
We seek an excellent candidate for a PhD research position ready to play a key role in the interdisciplinary ERC Consolidator Grant AEROSOL (2016-2020, PI. Prof. Leen Decin). The aim of the project is to boost our understanding of the physics and chemistry characterizing the stellar winds around evolved stars. The project builds upon novel observations, detailed theoretical wind models, and targeted laboratory experiments (see http://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/Projects/aerosol/aerosol). The candidate will interact closely with a team consisting of astrophysicists, chemists, and computational mathematicians.
Specifically, we seek a candidate with interest both in laboratory chemistry and in chemical modelling. In a first part of the project, the candidate will perform laboratory experiments aiming to understand the reactivity of Ni and Al in environments mimicking the winds of evolved stars. In a second phase, the student will study silicate dust formation using ab-initio quantum theory to establish likely reaction pathways occurring in stellar outflows.
The candidate will perform his/her study at the University of Leeds supervised by Prof. John Plane (University of Leeds) and Prof. Leen Decin (University of Leuven, University of Leeds), working in collaboration with Dr David Gobrecht (University of Leuven).
Candidates should have an interest in astrophysics, astrochemistry and/or physical chemistry. The ex-perimental work will be carried out in the modern and fully-equipped research laboratories at the Universities of Leeds. The (quantum) chemical computations will use the HPC facilities of the University of Leuven. The PhD student will interact closely with other team members at the Universities of Leuven and Leeds.
Institute of Astronomy - University of Leuven
The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of the Leuven University in Belgium is a young and vibrant research group of some 50 scientists, engineers and administrative staff (fys.kuleuven.be/ster), including 6 full-time and 3 part-time professors. The institute is an expertise centre in stellar physics and is active in several international consortia and collaborations, involving telescopes at observatories worldwide and in space. Members of IoA have access to parallel computing facilities at Leuven University. The IoA is responsible for the organisation of the 2-year Master in Astronomy & Astrophysics of the Faculty of Science and owns the 1.2m Mercator telescope at Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma Observatory, Canary Islands. The institute has a long tradition in instrumental, observational, and theoretical studies of the late stages of evolution of low and intermediate mass stars.
School of Chemistry - University of Leeds
The Atmospheric and Planetary Chemistry (APC) Research Group within the School of Chemistry http://www.chem.leeds.ac.uk/research/groups/atmospheric-and-planetary-chemistry.html consists of ~40 scientists (3 Professors, academic staff, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students). Research into the Earth's at-mosphere focuses on field measurements of key species in the atmosphere, laboratory studies of chemical
oxidation of volatile organic compounds and the chemistry of meteor-ablated metals in the upper atmosphere, and detailed modelling using the Master Chemical Mechanism and the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate
Model. The Planetary Chemistry research uses a combination of laboratory work, observations and modelling with an enhanced focus on chemistry at low temperatures using a pulsed Laval expansion, specialised flow tubes and theoretical models. The experience in combustion and high temperature pyrolysis chemistry is relevant for the conditions of 'super Earth' and 'hot Jupiter' exoplanets. The Group has extensive collaborations within Leeds (Physics and Astronomy, Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science), nationally (National Centre for Atmospheric Science) and internationally (NASA, JPL and many university departments worldwide).
The successful applicant will perform research in the context of AEROSOL. The PhD student will be able to take up personal training in science and people management, science communication, and grant application writing with the aim to develop a personal independent career track. The selected candidate will be offered a 3-year studentship, with a starting date between 1 July 2017 and 1 January 2018. In their application, candidates are requested to indicate their preferred starting date.
Requirements and instructions to apply
Applicants must possess a Master’s degree in (astro)physics, chemistry or mathematics, or an equivalent diploma. High proficiency in English is assumed. Applications must include:
• a Curriculum Vitae;
• a statement of research interests (maximum 2 pages);
• a letter detailing your specific qualifications for the position and your career/educational goals (maximum 1 page);
• two letters of recommendation from people well acquainted with your academic achievements. The letters are to be submitted separately to the address mentioned below.
Applications should be made using the University On-line Application System, where you can upload your supporting documents directly onto the system: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/130206/applying/91/applying_for_research_degrees
Please note: this opportunity is only available to those eligible for the UK/Non-UK EU fees rate. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/102040/fees_and_costs/104/research_degrees_fees
The short-listed applicants will be invited for an interview (live or via skype).
More information can be obtained by contacting:
Prof. L. Decin Institute for Astronomy
Department of Physics and Astronomy, KU Leuven Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium Leen.Decin@kuleuven.be
++32-16-32 70 41
Prof. J. Plane
Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry
School of Chemistry
University of Leeds, Leeds
LS2 9JT, UK
1 Postdoc and 2 PhD positions at KU Leuven, Belgium Observational and theoretical stellar astrophysics The winds of hot and cool massive stars
1 Postdoc and 2 PhD positions at KU Leuven, Belgium
Observational and theoretical stellar astrophysics
The winds of hot and cool massive stars
The MAESTRO Project
Throughout the Universe, the dynamics and chemical evolution of spiral galaxies like our Milky Way are largely controlled by the lives and deaths of stars with masses many times that of the Sun. But the evolution of these massive stars, in turn, is highly regulated by the huge amounts of mass expelled from their surfaces, by means of powerful starlight-driven wind outflows. These stellar winds critically determine how such massive stars evolve through their lives, how they finally die in giant supernova explosions, and how they after their violent deaths leave behind exotic remnants such as neutron stars and black holes. However, large uncertainties concerning such mass loss remain, affecting present-day predictions for massive-star evolution, including even massive-star progenitor models of gravitational wave sources.
In this context, the MAESTRO project aims to fundamentally improve our understanding of the driving mechanism of massive-star winds. We will use novel theoretical and observational methods to probe the winds of hot and cool massive stars, throughout their entire evolution and across a large range of metallicity environments. Financed by the KU Leuven University in Belgium, the MAESTRO project will bridge the theoretical, computational, and observational expertise of 4 academic members of the Institute of Astronomy at KU Leuven, to build an interdisciplinary team tackling the above critical stellar physics questions, and to enhance the predictive power of contemporary stellar evolution models of massive stars.
The Institute of Astronomy of the KU Leuven (Belgium) seeks highly motivated and excellent applicants to take on important roles in the MAESTRO project. Applications are invited for 1 postdoc and at least one2 PhD positions financed through a prestigious research grant (C1) from the KU Leuven university. The selected candidates will join the MAESTRO team, closely under the supervision of with Profs. Leen Decin, Hugues Sana, Jon Sunqvist and Alex de Koter, and as part of an international network of collaborators, to obtain crucial observational constraints and to develop new theoretical methods needed to advance our understanding of hot and cool massive-star winds.
The MAESTRO project will open 6 positions in the next 3 years. Here, we sSpecifically advertise de following 1 postdoc and 2 PhD positions (with preferred starting date around 1 October 2017):
- PhD position: Theory of Wolf-Rayet winds – The PhD student will aim to develop a theoretical framework for the radiative acceleration driving the winds of Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars; using this framework then, full dynamical wind models will be constructed to obtain theoretical predictions for global wind properties (e.g. mass-loss rate) and their scaling with fundamental stellar parameters.
- PhD position: Observations and Diagnostics of Red Supergiant winds – The PhD student will aim to derive the geometrical and dynamical wind structure of Red Supergiants (RSGs) using existing retrieval methods and will study the current morphology and mass-loss evolution during the RSG life time, as well as the mass-loss signatures at low metallicities.
- Postdoc position: Observations of hot and cool massive stars – The postdoc will be responsible for the observational aspects of the MAESTRO project. Tasks involve, e.g.: collect, reduce and/or organize a multi-wavelength data-set covering hot (OB, WR) and cool (RSGs) massive stars across a wide metallicity range, develop and/or adapt the necessary techniques to analyse crowded regions and unresolved small clusters. Lead the analysis of these data, including part of the daily supervision of students in the MAESTRO project.
- Time resolved photometry and spectroscopy of young clusters
The Host Institute
The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of Leuven University in Belgium consists of a young and vibrant research group of some 50 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff (fys.kuleuven.be/ster), including 6 full-time and 3 part-time professors. The institute is an expertise centre in stellar physics and is active in several international consortia and collaborations, involving telescopes at observatories worldwide and in space. Members of IoA have access to parallel computing facilities at Leuven University. The IoA is responsible for the organisation of the 2-year Master in Astronomy & Astrophysics of the Faculty of Science and owns the 1.2m Mercator telescope at Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma Observatory, Canary Islands. The institute has a long tradition in instrumental, observational, and theoretical studies of stellar evolution.
The PhD Contract
The selected PhD students will be offered a 4-year contract, including a mid-term evaluation after 2 years. The salary will be commensurate to the standard scale for PhD students in Belgium; it includes social and medical insurance as well as pension rights. The preferred starting date is 1 August October 1st 2017 but can be negotiated.
The successful PhD applicants( will) have to register at and comply with the regulations of the Arenberg Doctoral School of the Leuven University. Good command of the English language is a requirement to be approved by the doctoral school. The successful PhD applicants will follow a doctoral programme including personal training in management, science communication, and teaching. As part of the doctoral program, the students will have to take up a teaching task of at maximumally 4 hours per week in one of the Bachelor (in Dutch) or Master (in English) programmes. PhD students at IoA are also required to perform at least one Mercator observing run of 10 nights per year for the pooled IoA long-term monitoring programmes.
The Postdoc Contract
The selected post-doc will be offered a 2-year contract with a possible extension of maximum 1 year. The salary will be commensurate to the standard scale for post-doc researcher in Belgium and will depend on the number of years of experience after PhD. It includes social and medical insurance as well as pension rights. The preferred starting date shall be between 1 August October 1st 2017 and January 1st 2018 but can be negotiated.
The postdoc will also be encouraged to take up training in science and people management, science communication and grant application writing with the aim to develop a personal independent career track.
Requirements and Instructions to Apply
PhD applicants must hold a M.Sc. degree in physics, astrophysics or mathematics or else own an equivalent diploma. The degree must be dated at the latest one month before the position can be taken up. Expertise in astrophysics is an asset but not a requirement.
Post-doc applicants must hold a PhD in astrophysics or an equivalent diploma. The ideal candidates will have a strong observational and data analysis background, including expertise relevant for the atmosphere analysis of hot and/or cool massive stars. Prior-experience with UV, optical, IR and/or sub-mm observations and facilities such as the HST, ESO/VLT (XShooter, UVES, SPHERE, MUSE, KMOS), ALMA and JWST, or similar facilities, will be viewed positively by the selection committee. Similarly, preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate expertise with low-metallicity environments, crowded regions, IFU spectroscopy and/or future JWST observations.
PhD and postdoc applicants: Proficiency in English is assumedrequired. The application package should be sent as one single PDF containing (i) a curriculum vitae with a full publication list, (ii) a statement of interest (max. one page for PhD applicants and 2 pages for postdocs) and (iii) a summary of the research experience (e.g. master thesis; also max. one page for PhD applicants and 3 pages for postdocs). Exclusively for PhD applicants, (iv) a list of all master courses with their number of study points and the scores obtained.
Applicants must also provide the names and contact details of two reference persons who would be prepared to send confidential recommendation letters should they be requested to do so. The selection committee will send out requests for such letters for those applicants on the short-list after an initial ranking. The short-listed applicants will be invited for an interview (live or via skypeSkype).
The application material should be sent by e-mail to
Leen.Decin@kuleuven.be with subject “MAESTRO-” at the latest
by 1 July 15, 2017.
Interviews will be held during the summer and selected candidates will be contacted at the latest by August 31, 2017.
Only Ccomplete applications received by July 15th 2017 will be considered. Information on the positions and on the MAESTRO project may be obtained by contacting the co-promotors of the project:
Prof. Leen Decin: email (Leen.Decin@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-32.70.41)
Prof. Hugues Sana: email (Hugues.Sana@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-37.43.61)
Prof. Jon Sundqvist: email (Jon.Sundqvist@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-487-36.31.20)
Prof. Alex de Koter: email (A.deKoter@uva.nl) or phone (+31-20-525.74.91)
or at the website https://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/Projects/maestro
PhD at LOMC, Le Havre University, France
Dear Colleagues. A PhD on the electron/molecule reactive
collisions will be funded at fall at LOMC-UMR-6294,
Le Havre University, Normandy, France.
The announcement follows.
Thank you for spreading it around.
Best regards, Ioan Schneider
Electron-Molecule Collisions: Study of the Reactive Mechanisms
Doctoral School: Physics, Engineering, Materials, Energy (PSIME),
Research group: ‘Reactive Processes’, LOMC-UMR-6294, Université
du Havre Normandie.
Supervisor: Ioan F. SCHNEIDER, Université du Havre Normandie.
Co-supervisor: Arnaud BULTEL, CORIA-UMR-6614, Université de Rouen
Sponsor: Normandy region (La Région Normandie).
Key words: reactive collisions, dissociative recombination,
rate coefficients, quantum methods, plasmas, kinetics,
Context and motivation: The electronic collisions are major
processes in the plasmas of hypersonic entries of spacecrafts
in the planetary atmospheres, in the edge of the fusion plasmas,
in the interstellar molecular clouds, flames and ionic propulsion
plasmas . Sophisticated experiments measuring the rate
coefficients of these processes are supported and extended by
quantum state-to-state computations, in order to deeply
understand the role of these collisions in the kinetics and
hydrodynamics of the invoked environments, and in order to fill
the data bases (NIST, ADAS, UMIST, KIDA, etc.) in view of detailed
Objectives of the doctoral work: We will study the collisions between
electrons and molecules – neutral and ionized - in particular the
Hydrogen (molecular benchmark), the hydrides – containing Oxygen,
Carbon, Argon, metalic elements, etc. – and species containing halogenes
or Sulphur. Three activities will be simultaneously developped.
The first one will be the production of molecular structure data –
potential energy curves and inter-channel couplings – by using
quantum chemistry and R-matrix methods. The second one will be the
modelling of the reactional dynamics (recombination, attachement,
dissociation,ionization, excitation) by collisional methods and
theoretical spectroscopy methods. And finally the third will be
that of the use of the rate coefficients in the kinetic models.
Methodological details: Many of the reactions invoked occur
simultaneously and, consequently, are in mutual competition.
They are complex processes, where the super-excited states
amplify resonantly the excitation, the ionization and the dissociation.
Several fragmentation continua – electron/molecule, atom/atom, etc. –
and several infinite series of bound states overlap. Our methods
are the only capable to manage this complexity, and to link it to
the kinetic models. They are based on the Multichannel Quantum Defect
Theory (MQDT) [2-6], on the R-matrix theory  and on the
Configuration Interaction theory . The kinetics driven by these
processes will be described by collisional-radiative models .
Collaborations : In France: Laboratories CORIA (Rouen), LSPM
(Villetaneuse), Aimé Cotton (Orsay), LPP (Ecole Polytechnique),
Ecole Centrale de Paris, IPAG (Grenoble), LUPM (Montpellier).
Abroad: University College London, University of Central Florida -
Orlando, University of California – Davis, Max-Planck-Institut
für Kernphysik - Heidelberg, Stockholm University, Politecnico
and Aldo Moro University - Bari, University of Calcutta,
University of Douala, University of Burundi, Politehnica
University and West University of Timisoara, Tunis El Manar
 I. F. Schneider, O. Dulieu et J. Robert (Editeurs) Eur.
Phys. J./Web of Conferences 84, 2015
 Ch. Jungen, “Elements of Quantum Defect Theory”, in M. Quack
and F. Merkt (editors), Handbook of High Resolution Spectroscopy,
Wiley, Chichester, New York 2010.
 J. Zs. Mezei et al, Plasma Sources Science and Technology
24, 035005, 2015.
 M. D. Epée Epée et al, Monthy Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society 455, 276–281, 2016.
 D. A. Little et al, Phys. Rev. A 90, 052705, 2014.
 S. Niyonzima et al, Phys. Rev. A 87, 022702, 2013.
 J. Tennyson, Physics Reports 491, 29-76, 2010.
 V. Laporta et al, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
59, 045008, 2017.
 A. Bultel et al, Physics of Plasmas 13, 043502, 2006.
Quantemol is hiring
Quantemol Ltd. (www.quantemol.com) is a scientific software and consultancy company developing state of the art simulation software for industrial applications in the integrated circuit (IC) fabrication industry, and providing simulation and plasma chemistry consultancy to industrial clients. We are based in University College London, located in the heart of the city, with clients which include large international blue-chip corporations.
Quantemol is looking to fill two positions:
Chemical Reactions Modeller
We are looking for a Chemical Reactions Modeller who will be able to construct and validate plasma chemistry reaction sets by comparison with laboratory measurements. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to utilise their technical background in a commercial environment. You will be collaborating with a wide range of researchers from around the globe, and have the opportunity to travel and present at events where the latest innovations in plasma science are showcased. You will be a technical expert for our customer base, and work with our unique database of validated plasma chemistries (QDB) validating data for plasma modelling. You will have or be about to obtain a PhD in an appropriate field.
For more information on the Chemical Reactions Modeller role, and how to apply, please see:
We are looking for a Data Scientist (PhD) to manage and develop QDB, a database of plasma process data. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to utilise their technical background in a commercial environment. You will be collaborating with a wide range of researchers from around the globe, and have the opportunity to travel and present at events where the latest innovations in plasma science are showcased.
For more information on the Data Scientist role, and how to apply, please see:
Informal enquiries should be addressed to:
Prof Jonathan Tennyson,
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK