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PhD in Physics & Astronomy: Microphysics of cloud formation: the path to heterogeneous nucleation (ESR5)
School of Physics and Astronomy
Vacancy Description
School of Physics & Astronomy Fixed Term: 3.5 years, fully funded Start Date: Autumn 2020 PhD entry
As result of formation and evolution processes, exoplanets can have hugely different properties. The understanding of these objects is, to a large extent, hampered by clouds obscuring their atmospheres. Clouds play a key role for the atmospheric dynamics and chemistry, as they are important opacity sources and deplete the local gas phase chemistry. In order to understand the myriad of observational data from present (HST, Spitzer) and future space missions (CHEOPS, JWST, Ariel, PLATO), a thorough understanding of the cloud formation processes is required. The process that kicks off the cloud or dust particle formation is the nucleation process by which gas-phase species grow to larger clusters which then grow into condensation seeds.

This project aims to conduct theoretical work on the nucleation process that equally applicable to modelling cloud formation in exoplanets and brown dwarfs, and to dust formation in AGB stars. We will combine computational chemistry calculation with physical cloud formation modelling. This project is part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) CHAMELEON “Virtual Laboratories for Exoplanets and Planet Forming Disks”. The ITN combines the expertise of eight European research institutes (Universities of St Andrews, Groningen, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Leuven and Antwerp, the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research) to cover all relevant aspects for this complex modelling task, joining the expertise in planetary atmospheres and protoplanetary disks, including observation and interpretation. For a complete list of all open PhD positions within this training network please visit http://chameleon.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/

The selected PhD students will be offered a fully funded PhD place at the University of St Andrews’ Centre for Exoplanet Science with training secondment for this position foreseen at the University of Leuven, with additional short training at the University of Copenhagen. The PhD student will receive a double degree from St Andrews and from Leuven. The funding will be commensurate to the standard scale for PhD students in according to the Marie-Curie funding rules. The successful PhD applicants will have to register at, and comply with, the regulations of the St Leonard’s Postgraduate College at the University of St Andrews and the Arenberg Doctoral School of the KU Leuven. The successful PhD applicants will follow a doctoral programme including personal training in management, science communication, and teaching.

We seek an excellent student with a strong background in physics or astrophysics. Successful candidates must hold a Masters degree or equivalent by the starting date of the position. Previous research experience on planet forming disks and/or astrochemistry, and a track record of team work/mobility will be important criteria for the selection. This is a computational project: some prior knowledge of coding would be useful (e.g., Python and Fortran). Note that the general eligibility and mobility rules of Marie Sklodowka-Curie Actions apply.

Eligibility: CHAMELEON PhD studentships are open to people of any nationality. However, the Marie S. Curie Actions have two strict eligibility criteria for applicants to these positions:

1. EARLY STAGE: The applicant must be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of her/his research career (starting from the moment you obtain a degree that makes you eligible to study for a PhD) and not have a doctoral degree. Adjustments can be made for career breaks.

2. MOBILITY: The applicant must not have resided or carried out her/his main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the country where she/he has been recruited for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the recruitment date (this is the day on which you start your PhD).

Further information about eligibility criteria, the application process and the online application form are available at: http://chameleon.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/recruitment/

Deadline: 3 February 2020

For the first 3 years of employment, as Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellows, you will receive generous benefits, including a fixed salary/living allowance and mobility/ family allowance HYPERLINK "https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-