Postdoctoral position in Biomarkers in Planetary and Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Research / Academic

In the search for life in our Universe, habitability and composition are the first prerequisites and hence biomarkers for life. With current observational techniques available, the easiest way to look for biomarkers is by scrutinizing signals from atmospheres of planets. The physics and chemistry involved in atmospheres is at the confluence between chemistry and (astro)physics (e.g. molecular spectroscopy, photochemistry, atmospheric dynamics and escape). This is important because a planet’s atmosphere acts as a protective membrane that could host life forms, from the space above. It also offers key information of the conditions and the properties of the lower atmospheres and surface, including the presence of biomarkers themselves (e.g. Ozone in Earth’s stratosphere). Such signatures could be present and remain to be detected in exoplanets; this is the ultimate goal of this project. We are combining our expertise between astrophysics and chemistry to uniquely tackle this compelling question at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). We will employ a 1-D model of the atmospheric temperature, composition, density, including physical effects such as the magnetic field, photochemistry, dynamics and escape, and space weather. A team will be constructed around the postdocs involved in the collaborating group at UvA, including Master and PhD students, in order to disseminate knowledge and research activities, and develop a long term axis of research between API (Astronomy) and HIMS (Chemistry).

What are you going to do?

This is an interdisciplinary project. You will be a member of interdisciplinary research groups located at the Astronomy and Chemistry Institutes of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

You will:

  • work at the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API) in close collaboration with Van ‘ Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), in collaborations with faculty members, postdocs, Master and PhD students;
  • join the national and local Origins networks and interact with other projects within these networks;
  • be part of a stimulating and challenging environment;
  • work on models for atmospheres;
  • explore how atmospheric biomarkers can be remotely detected;
  • report your results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences.


What do we require?

  • A PhD degree in astrophysics, astrochemistry, chemistry, atmospheric studies, geosciences or related sciences;
  • good communication skills in oral and written English;
  • ability to collaborate and adapt in an interdisciplinary team (interface between astrophysics, atmospheric physics, and chemistry).

Experience in laboratory (astro)chemistry and/or geoscience is an advantage and affinity with fundamental, interdisciplinary research is helpful.

Salary Benefits:

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting at 1 January 2021 for the duration of 24 months (with a possibility of a 3rd year depending on funding). The starting date can be negotiated depending on the situation.    

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,709 to €4,274 (scale 10) gross per month, based on a full-time contract of 38 hours a week. This is exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


Science Park 904