Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Engineering

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £35,845
Monday, 14 September 2020
End of advertisement period
Monday, 12 October 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Engineering

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £35,845
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 3 years
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 12-Oct-2020, 6:59:00 AM

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

Department of Engineering is one of the very best UK Engineering Department with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. We are ranked 5th in The Complete University Guide 2018 as we provide outstanding course content that equips young engineers with the problem solving skills of the 21st century. We have a long history and tradition of Engineering. Engineering has been taught at Durham University since 1838 making it the first course of its kind in England. We have helped to shape the past and continue to shape the future.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Research Associate in Thermochemical Energy System. The person will require expertise in heat pump and thermal energy storage technology, with a particular emphasis on thermochemical sorption and gas compression.

The successful applicant will be expected to carry out high quality research leading to the development and demonstration of an innovative hybrid heat pump and thermochemical energy storage systems through experimental and numerical investigation. The Research Associate will directly work with Dr Zhiwei Ma, Dr Huashan Bao and Professor Tony Roskilly and contribute to the recently awarded EPSRC project-“Advanced hybrid thermochemical compression seasonal solar energy storage and heat pump system (Solar S&HP)”.


  • To understand and convey information which needs careful explanation to the team or group of people through presentations, discussions and meetings which contribute to the production of research reports and publications.
  • To write up results of research work, present information on research progress and outcomes to bodies supervising research in a clear and accurate manner.
  • To analyse or undertake high quality research by deciding how best to apply existing methodology according to overall context and objectives.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To contribute to the planning and development of research projects and proposals.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with other and contribute to the planning of research projects
  • To assist in contributing to support student projects on the use of research methods and equipment as part of a career and skill development.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by attending relevant training and development courses.

The post-holder is employed to work on a research project, which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will commence work as soon as possible from the 1st October 2020.

The Requirements



  • A PhD in research which thermochemical/sorption technology development.
  • A good first degree in Engineering with a high thermodynamics emphasis and content (equivalent to a UK upper 2nd class/ 2:I honours degree or higher).


  • Experience of conducting high quality fundamental research in thermochemical/sorption technology.
  • Publishing high quality conference and journal articles.
  • Experience in design and setting up laboratory test rig and conducting experimental research.
  • Demonstrable ability to produce concise and well-written reports for a range of stakeholders.


  • Solid academic background in thermochemical process, thermodynamics, heat pump, heat and mass transfer, heat exchanger, and gas compression systems.
  • Excellent skills in computer programming such as MATLAB, Simulink and EES (Engineering Equation Solver) and/or other relevant dynamic simulation software, and experimental skills.
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to manage time effectively and work to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Excellent presentation and dissemination skills.
  • Ability to liaise with a range of stakeholders.
  • High level of organisation skills.
  • Ability to contribute to the planning and management of independent research.



  • A Masters in Engineering with a high thermodynamics emphasis and content


  • Experience of working in or with industry.
  • Ability to assist in the provision of support to student projects.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Zhiwei Ma (zhiwei.ma@durham.ac.uk). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will be of the applicants’ ability to satisfy the essential and desirable requirements. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on a date to be confirmed.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.