Postdoctoral Research Associate

Durham (County) (GB)
£39,739 per annum
12 Jun 2022
End of advertisement period
12 Jul 2022
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

The Department

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the leading UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.

The Department is committed to advancing equality and we aim to ensure that our culture is inclusive, and that our systems support flexible and family-friendly working, as recognized by our Juno Champion and Athena SWAN Silver awards. We recognise and value the benefits of diversity throughout our staff and students.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the field of computational modelling of solid-liquid interfaces to work with Prof. Kislon Voitchovsky in the Department of Physics at Durham University.

The position is to commence in October 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. It is a fixed-term post for 24 months.

The project involves the study of the sub-microsecond dynamics of water, ions and charged molecules at the interface with solids when subjected to an electric field. The goal of the computer simulations is to complement current experimental measurements conducted with a combination of cutting-edge atomic force microscopy (0.5nm-5nm) and high-frequency electrochemical measurements (5ns-100ns). Your primary role is to use lead the development of suitable computer simulations, in particular molecular dynamics, to model the main aspects of the experiments and a same spatial and temporal scale. In practice, interfaces between thin oxide layers and aqueous solutions will be modelled at equilibrium and when subjected to electric fields with different geometries and intensities.

The work will be conducted as part of a team, and you will interact closely with experimentalists conducting measurements based on your simulations. You will have the opportunity to get directly involved with experiments and will be expected to introduce other scientists to your area of expertise. An ongoing collaboration with the simulation group of Prof. Adam Foster (Aalto University, Helsinki) will provide additional support and advice.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should please be directed to kislon.voitchovsky@durham.ac.uk


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
  • To be familiar with molecular dynamics simulations, in particular involving solid-liquid interfaces with aqueous solutions.
  • To be familiar with the strategies used to apply electric fields in the simulations.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and measurements.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research project, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • 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 plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
  • To communicate and collaborate with the industrial collaborators.

This post is fixed term for 24 months.

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.

Successful applicants will ideally be in post by 1st October 2022. 

The Requirements


1.            Qualifications

  • A good first degree in [Physics or Chemistry] or a related subject.
  • A PhD in [Physics or Chemistry] or a related subject.

2.            Experience

  • Demonstrable expertise in computer simulations of solid-liquid interfaces, including molecular dynamics.
  • Experience in setting up systems from scratch based on experimental information and literature inputs and ability to devise a suitable strategy.
  • Ability to function independently with limited technical input.
  • 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 present research papers at [international] conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Demonstrable ability to collaborate with academic partners.

3.            Skills

  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.


4.            Experience

  • Experience working with various simulations approaches, from DFT to continuum models (e.g. Comsol)
  • Experience teaching and training of non-specialists in the field of simulations
  • 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.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.

5.            Skills

  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact [Professor Kislon Voitchovsky, kislon.voitchovsky@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, and explains point by point why you believe you fit the requirement criteria set out above;
  • [List of Publications]

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include [evaluation of the submitted documents and an interview]. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on [Monday 20th July].

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

As a University we foster a collegiate community of extraordinary people aligned to the University’s values.  Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive, and in doing so, recruit the world’s best candidates from all backgrounds and identities. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

Reward and Benefits

To support the delivery of the University's People Strategy to attract, retain and reward the very best, we offer a fantastic range of rewards and benefits to our staff, including:

  • 30 days annual leave, plus 4 customary days and 8 bank holidays (pro-rata for part time) and the option to purchase additional leave;
  • Automatic enrolment into a pension scheme;
  • Corporate and local discounts;
  • Wellbeing resources and discounted health benefits;
  • Health discounts on sports and activities at Maiden Castle Health and Activity Centre;
  • Reward and Recognition Schemes;
  • Personal and career development;
  • And SO much more, with further information available here

Information if you have a disability

The University welcomes applications from disabled people. We are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

If you are unable to complete your application via our recruitment system, please get in touch with us on e.recruitment@durham.ac.uk.

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