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Position Details

Academic Personnel

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Planetary Geochemistry

Position Overview

School / Campus / College: College of the Environment

Organization: Earth and Space Science

Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Planetary Geochemistry

Position Details

Position Description

A position for a postdoctoral research associate is open in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. We seek an individual who is excited to do research in planetary geochemistry using a combination of lab work and numerical modeling. The selected candidate will be expected to contribute to specific research that is currently supported by NASA funding, including the stability of brines on Mars and the chemical composition and habitability of the ocean on Enceladus. We are also interested in a person who can contribute to research about the geochemical environment for the origin of life, of relevance to the early Earth and early Mars. Origin of life studies are supported by the Simons Foundation. The selected candidate will join the group of Professor David Catling, currently consisting of 7 graduate students and 2 postdocs, and will have opportunities for collaboration and career development. The selected candidate will join a group within the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, which has four broad research areas: the solid earth, surface processes, geobiology, and space/planetary studies. The group is also part of the cross-campus Astrobiology Program, and the postdoc would be part of this broader interdisciplinary environment.

Work duties will include conducting laboratory and numerical modeling studies relevant to the stability of brines on Mars, the chemical composition and habitability of Enceladus’ ocean, and the geochemical environment for the origin of life; scientific analysis of data and model output; publication of results in scientific journals, and presentation at conferences; mentoring of graduate and undergraduate student researchers; and participation in occasional (analog) fieldwork, if needed, for research.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and employee benefits will be provided. The position runs for one year but is anticipated to be renewable for up to three years pending satisfactory performance. The position is available immediately, but the exact start date for the position is negotiable. A start by or before mid-2021 is highly desirable.

Postdoctoral scholars are represented by UAW 4121 and are subject to the collective bargaining agreement, unless agreed exclusion criteria apply. For more information, please visit the University of Washington Labor Relations website at Initial appointments will be made for 12 months, renewable after that time. 

The University, College, and Department are dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty and staff committed to teaching and working in a multicultural, inclusive environment and strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and covered veterans. The department of Earth and Space Sciences is therefore seeking candidates whose experiences have prepared them to fulfill our commitment to inclusion. For more information on our commitment to building a culturally diverse workforce, please see:  and .

The University of Washington (UW) is located in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, with a dynamic, multicultural community of 3.7 million people and a range of ecosystems from mountains to ocean. The UW serves a diverse population of 80,000 students, faculty and staff including 25% first-generation college students, over 25% Pell Grant student and faculty from over 70 countries. The UW is a recipient of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award to increase the advancement of women in science, engineering, and math (see ).


Candidates must have a PhD in a relevant field, e.g., Planetary Science, Chemistry, Geology/ Earth Sciences, Physics. To address the particular research funded by NASA and the Simons Foundation, experience in practical lab work involving aqueous chemistry is strongly desirable, as well as experience in -- or the confidence to learn -- numerical modeling of aqueous geochemistry. Coding experience in a scientific computing language is highly desirable (e.g., python, Matlab, IDL, R, fortran, etc.) Candidates should have basic proficiency in statistical analyses of data and also must have a strong interest in astrobiology and NASA-relevant questions. They must possess the self-confidence and interest to learn aspects of different fields or new skills, as needed, to solve research questions.


This position remains open until filled. To apply, candidates will be asked to submit materials via Interfolio, including 1) a letter of introduction (1-page max.) that addresses qualifications described above, 2) a CV with a list of publications, and 3) and contact information from two professional referees that prompts letters of recommendation to be uploaded. Applications received by Feb 15, 2021 (including reference letters) will receive higher priority. For questions about potential disability accommodation during the application process, please contact the UW's Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450, or 206-543-6452 (TTY), or

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All
qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed,
religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information,
gender identity or expression, age, disability, or protected veteran status.

Apply now

The University of Washington is using Interfolio's Faculty Search to conduct this search. Applicants to this position receive a free Dossier account and can send all application materials, including confidential letters of recommendation, free of charge.

For help signing up, accessing your account, or submitting your application, please check out Interfolio's help and support section or get in touch via email at or phone at (877)997-8807.

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Anyone may contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator about sex and gender discrimination, including sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Anyone who has experienced these behaviors has the right to make a complaint to the University, report to the police, to both, or not at all.

Please see the Title IX website to learn more about how to report or make a formal complaint of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or other sexual misconduct. You will also find information about supportive measures and the grievance procedures that are utilized for complaints of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. Students and employees have access to support measures and resources, whether or not they choose to make a complaint.

Office of the Title IX Coordinator

Valery Richardson, Title IX Coordinator
Mags Aleks, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
4311 11th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98105

Commitment to Diversity

The University of Washington is committed to building diversity among its faculty, librarian,
staff, and student communities, and articulates that commitment in the UW Diversity Blueprint
( Additionally, the University’s Faculty Code
recognizes faculty efforts in research, teaching and/or service that address diversity and equal
opportunity as important contributions to a faculty member’s academic profile and
responsibilities (