Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Mathematical Sciences

Durham, United Kingdom
11 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
12 Oct 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Grade 7: - £33797
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 18 months
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

The Department of Mathematical Sciences is one of the UK’s best Mathematics departments with an outstanding reputation in teaching, research and employability of our students. Ranked 7th in terms of grade point average intensity in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, it has an active programme of internationally recognized research in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Statistics and Probability. The research culture is vibrant, with many visitors, seminars, international conferences and workshops. We aim to provide a supportive and friendly environment with a strong sense of community. The Department, which currently has 88 permanent members of staff, is set to grow significantly, and in early 2021 we will move into a brand new building.

The Department hosts an active group in computational and applied mathematics, https://www.dur.ac.uk/mathematical.sciences/research/num/, with a particular interest in Magntohydrodynamics and Biological Continuum Mechanics.

The Department holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award. Athena SWAN is a national initiative that recognises the advancement of gender equality, representation, progression, and success for all in academia. The Department also supports the London Mathematical Society Good Practice Scheme, whose aim is to support mathematics departments to embed equal opportunities for women within their working practices.

Durham University is committed to the Concordat to support the career development of researchers. For further information please visit the Research Staff web pages on http://www.dur.ac.uk/hr/researchstaff/

The Role

Post Doctoral Research Associate in Magnetohydroynamics for 18 months full time (Beginning October 1st 2020), within the Computational Applied Mathematics Group in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Durham University. The position is funded by the American Air force with the project title, "Predicting coronal eruptions from photospheric magnetic winding flux". The aim is to develop predictive tools for solar eruptions using topological quantities, through a combination of theoretical modelling and observational data. As well as being part of a vibrant and growing research group at Durham, the successful applicant will collaborate with the Fluid Dynamics and Magnetohydrodynamics Group at the University of Glasgow.

The successful applicant will have a PhD in magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) and/or fluid dynamics. Experience of developing, running and analysing numerical simulations is essential. A background in solar physics and the use of observational data (magnetograms in particular) would be desirable but is not essential. The successful applicant will report directly to the Principal Investigator, Dr Christopher Prior (Durham University). In addition, the successful applicant will regularly liaise with the project's co-investigator Dr David MacTaggart (University of Glasgow). There is a significant travel budget for this activity as well as for national and international conference attendance. He/she will develop existing numerical codes for solving the 3D MHD and run a series of simulations to generate synthetic predictions of the observed solar magnetic field in active regions. Topological quantities, such as the magnetic winding, will be calculated from these data and compared to observational data for the purpose of developing a predictive tool for solar eruptions.

Responsibilities :

  • To play an active role in the research activity of the Applied and computational mathematics group, working both independently and collaboratively.
  • To carry out the planned research of the project proposal.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature through discussions and presentations within the group.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator and Grant-holder.
  • To present results at seminars and international workshops / conferences.
  • To publish results in international scientific journals and open access electronic archives.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives through discussions 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 plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.

This post is fixed term for 18 months and externally funded.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/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.

Contact Details

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Christopher Prior via telephone on +44 7974978175 or via email: christopher.prior@durham.ac.uk. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

How to Apply

Please Note: Candidates applying via Redeployment are only eligible to apply for a post at the same Grade or lower.

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;
  • A personal research statement of at most two pages.

Next Steps

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed via Skype and we anticipate that the assessment will take place in late September.

The Requirements



  • A PhD in Applied Mathematics or Theoretical Physics.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to deliver presentations and communicate research ideas both to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Demonstrable ability to respond to research developments and to use new research techniques and methods.


  • Ability to present and exchange ideas as part of a research team.
  • Ability to work independently and to deadlines.
  • Ability to use initiative and creativity to identify areas for research.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Skills
  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

Similar jobs

Similar jobs