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Postdoctoral Position in Planetary Science

Postdoctoral Positions in Planetary Science

Prof. G.A. Blake and Dr. K.M. Pontoppidan are seeking to hire postdoctoral scholars in specific fields related to our collective near-term future work and long-term research interests. Please submit by 1 February 2024 a cover letter (≤2.5 pages; details on content below), a curriculum vitae, and (optional) 2 letters of recommendation.

We are seeking candidates with demonstrated interest in one or more of the specific research topics below, a strong publication record, skills in complementary areas that extend the group's expertise, and who will both benefit from and add to the community at Caltech and the observatory/proposal teams with which we work. The postdoctoral scholar is expected to spend ~75-80% of their time on one or more of the topics below with the remainder on other topics of interest, as agreed upon with Prof. Blake and Dr. Pontoppidan.

More information about the groups and our research interests can be found at:

Geoff Blake

Klaus Pontoppidan


1) JWST-MIRI Spectroscopy/Imaging of Protoplanetary Disks: We are members of GO-1 and GO-2 programs, under the JDISCS umbrella, that are acquiring MIRI spectra and image cubes of a suite of protoplanetary disks, with a sample largely honed from deep, high spatial resolution imaging surveys with ALMA. Complete 5-25 micron spectra are acquired and processed with dedicated calibration observations to yield essentially shot noise-limited dynamic range. The proposal teams are developing various data analysis tools in concert with the observations.

1A. Processing of JWST-MIRI image cubes and spectroscopy. Prior experience with reducing MIRI data would be helpful, but not required.

1B. Development and extension of software tools, to enable the JDISCS consortium and greater community use of JWST spectra and images.

2) Keck-NIRSPAO High Dispersion Spectroscopy/Spectro-Astrometry (S-A) of Protoplanetary Disks and Exoplanet Atmospheres: We have a long term archive of Keck-NIRSPEC observations of protoplanetary disks and are building on this archive with the upgraded NIRSPEC2.0 instrument, with a focus on M-band observations of protoplanetary disks using the natural guide star mode and K-band observations of exoplanet atmospheres as part of the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer team. Funding for this aspect of our disk work includes collaborations on detailed thermo-chemical models with Prof. E.A. Bergin's group at the University of Michigan. Specific topics of interest include:

2A. Spectroscopy/S-A of CO and water emission from disks. Experience with high dispersion IR spectroscopy would be an asset, as would expertise in telluric correction algorithms.

2B. Free retrievals of disk and exoplanet atmospheric properties. Expertise with Bayesian inference and analysis, and with radiative transfer, would be of most relevance here.

To apply to this position, please email the following materials to Professor Geoff Blake ([email protected])

  • A cover letter (≤2.5 pages). The cover letter should describe research interests and reasons for applying for the position, including identification of one or more of the specific topical areas below, how they relate to the candidate's past and future research ambitions, and why the candidate thinks working with the Blake/Pontoppidan team is a good step in their career path. The cover letter should also list contact information for 2 references.
  • A curriculum vitae of significant activities that includes a publication list
  • (optional) 2 letters of recommendation. Please ask your recommenders to email Geoff directly ([email protected])

Review of applications will begin on January 22, 2024. Notifications are anticipated by mid- to late-February, 2024, as various international astronomical fellowships are announced.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is committed to working with and providing access and reasonable accommodations to applicants with physical or mental disabilities. To request disability accommodations for any part of the interview or hiring process, please contact 626-395-6111 or [email protected] for assistance.