Postdoctoral Research Associate in Institute for Computational Cosmology, Physics

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 - £36,382 per annum
28 Jul 2022
End of advertisement period
10 Aug 2022
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Physics

Grade 7: - £34,304 - £36,382 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 month
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 10-Aug-2022, 6:59:00 AM

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 Department hosts one of the largest research groups in Europe dedicated to observational and theoretical cosmology, extragalactic astronomy and advanced instrumentation. The Durham group is ranked joint-sixth in the world in terms of our research impact. The successful candidate will join the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC). In November 2016 the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation moved into the brand-new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics building designed by the world-renowned Studio Daniel Libeskind.

The Role

This is a 1.0 FTE position for 2 years starting in the Autumn of 2022 to work on projects based around strong gravitational lensing, in particular in the use of lensing to detect dark matter structures along the line-of-sight to a strong lensing system.

The post holder will work with Professor Carlos Frenk and other members of the ICC. The candidate will be expected to display the initiative and creativity, together with the appropriate skills and knowledge, required to lead research using strong gravitational lensing as a means to constrain the nature of the cosmic dark matter. This requires both theoretical expertise and the ability to apply theoretical tools to analyse astronomical data.

The Department of Physics is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment. It is pledged to the Athena SWAN charter, where we hold a silver award, and has the status of IoP Juno Champion. We embrace equality and particularly welcome applications from women, black and minority ethnic candidates, and members of other groups that are under-represented in physics. Durham University provides a range of benefits including pension, flexible and/or part time working hours, shared parental leave policy and childcare provision.


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the grant holder (Professor C. S. Frenk)
  • To work with the grant holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate to develop
  • 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 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 assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In addition you will carry out one or more of the following:
    • The development of strong lensing modelling techniques
    • The analysis and/or interpretation of data from astronomical surveys

This is a full-time (1.0 FTE) 2-year fixed term post.

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 1 September 2022.

The Requirements


  1. Qualifications
  • A good first degree in physics, astrophysics, cosmology, or a related subject.
  • A PhD in astrophysics, cosmology, or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high-quality academic research in the area of extragalactic astronomy and/or cosmology using observational and/or theoretical/computational techniques
  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national/international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in the development and testing of techniques using strong gravitational le sing to search for dark matter structures and substructures
  • Experience in applying strong gravitational lensing techniques to real or simulated systems Experience in efficient coding of gravitational lensing methods


  • 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.
  • 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.



  • 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/practical’s.
  • Experience in the use of the Autolens software package


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research Coding in Python or other similar languages

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Lorraine Oram (Lorraine.oram@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 2 (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:

  1. A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  2. A brief research proposal, detailing current and future research plan.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include review of the submitted materials. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment as soon as possible following the closing date.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.