Postdoctoral Researcher, UKRI FLF

Natural History Museum

Postdoctorate Position 3 years London, UK

Uploaded 27 Apr 2021

Job Description

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most visited natural history museum in Europe. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million objects. The scale of this collection enables researchers from all over the world to document how species have and continue to respond to environmental changes - which is vital in helping predict what might happen in the future and informing future policies and plans to help the planet.

We are at a pivotal moment in our history as we launch a new strategy setting out our role as the natural world faces increasing threats. Building on our world-leading collection, global reputation for science and as one of the world’s leading visitor attractions, the NHM has ambitious plans leading up to the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Waterhouse Building in 2031, making this a truly exciting time to be part of the NHM team.

About the role

The Department of Earth Sciences is home to internationally renowned scientists and world-class collections in areas including mineralogy and petrology, meteorites and planetary science, and palaeontology. Working closely with universities, industrial partners, and government agencies, we deliver world-leading research into the physical and chemical properties that underpin the natural world. The post-holder will join the thriving Mineral and Planetary Science Division, which consists of research staff, curators, post-doctoral researchers, and PhD students investigating the fundamental geological processes that shape our planet and the solar system. Within the Division, the Planetary Materials Group curates one of the finest meteorite collections in the world and is directly involved in active space missions such as ExoMars, Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx.

The Planetary Materials Group are seeking a post-doctoral research assistant to investigate the diversity of materials in the early solar system and constrain how those materials were transported and mixed throughout the protoplanetary disk. The project will involve identifying xenoliths in the meteorite record and then characterising their mineralogy, textural features and chemical compositions using a unique combination of electron microscopy (SEM/EMPA), X-ray computed tomography (CT), X-ray diffraction (XRD), infrared (IR) spectroscopy and isotopic analysis. Results will test models of giant planet migration in the early solar system, provide new insights into the materials from which the terrestrial planets accreted, and offer context for recent observations of asteroids Ryugu and Bennu. This 3-year post is part of the UKRI-funded Building Habitable Worlds project and is an exciting opportunity to work with the NHM meteorite collection, develop key research skills including access and training with state-of-the-art analytical facilities, and communicate findings to an international audience.

Person Specification

We are looking for someone who has demonstrable experience in the handling and laboratory analysis of extra-terrestrial materials and a strong analytical background including experience with one (or more) of the following techniques: SEM/EMPA, CT, XRD and IR spectroscopy.

The successful candidate will also have good communication and planning skills ensuring that they can prioritise research tasks and meet deadlines. Finally, the ability to work both independently and as part of a small team will be essential.