Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Theory of Ultracold Molecules

Durham, United Kingdom
£35,333 per annum
16 Nov 2022
End of advertisement period
08 Dec 2022
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Chemistry

Grade 7: - £35,333 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 08-Dec-2022, 7:59:00 AM


Department Chemistry
Grade Grade  7
Term 18-month Fixed Term Contract
Salary Range £35,333 per annum
Closing Date 7th December 2022
Working Arrangements This role is full time but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares

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 three 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 breath-taking 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

Chemistry at Durham is a thriving centre of scientific activity for teaching and for world-leading research in the chemical sciences. It is located at the heart of the University Science site and just a 10-minute walk from the city centre. Durham University is global top-100 University (QS world rankings, 2022) and is consistently in the top five in major UK league tables. Research in the Chemistry Department is interdisciplinary and is organised into six research groupings: bioactive chemistry and synthesis; Catalysis and Sustainable Chemical Processes; Computational and Dynamics; Functional Molecules and Materials; Physical organic and assembly; Soft Matter and Interfaces. Through these groupings we focus on tackling global challenges across three core themes, manufacturing the future, bio-economy and new material discovery.

There is strong research in experimental chemical physics, including the groups of Prof. Jan Verlet, Dr. Eckart Wrede and Dr. David Carty, and in theoretical chemical physics, including the groups of Prof Mark Wilson, Prof David Tozer and Dr Mark Miller.

The Atomic and Molecular Physics group at Durham includes the research groups of Prof Simon L Cornish, Prof Charles S Adams, Prof Ifan G Hughes, Prof Matthew P A Jones, Dr Robert M Potvliege and Dr Hannah Williams. The group is part of the Durham-Newcastle Joint Quantum Centre (JQC) and has strong collaborations both within the UK and internationally

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in theoretical atomic and molecular physics, to work in association with Prof Jeremy M Hutson, FRS, on the quantum mechanics involved in the formation and properties of ultracold molecules. The theoretical work is associated with an EPSRC-funded Programme Grant in collaboration with the experimental groups of Prof Simon L Cornish in the Durham Physics Department and Prof Michael J Tarbutt at Imperial College London and an EPSRC Grant aimed at achieving molecular Bose-Einstein condensation in collaboration with Prof. Tarbutt. We have already succeeded in forming ultracold polar RbCs and CaF molecules in their absolute ground states at temperatures around 1 microKelvin, and explored their interactions and collisions. We are now developing the use of these and other ultracold molecules for quantum science.

The successful applicant will be expected to carry out internationally leading theoretical and computational research on the formation, properties and applications of ultracold molecules.

Further details of the research group are available at https://jmhutson.webspace.durham.ac.uk and a description of recent research achievements and current projects is available in a link from there.


  • 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 assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • 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 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 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 participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses

This post is fixed term for 18 months. The duration is limited by the funding available on research grants described above.

The post-holder will be employed to work on research projects led by Professor Jeremy M Hutson. 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 projects, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

The successful applicant will, ideally, be in post by 1 March 2023.

The Requirements


  1. Qualifications
    1. A good first degree in Physics or Chemistry.
    2. A PhD (or be close to submission) in theoretical atomic or molecular physics, theoretical chemical physics, or theoretical chemistry.


  • Experience in conducting and publishing high quality academic research.
  • Experience of developing new quantum-mechanical methods in one or more of
    (i) atomic or molecular collision theory; (ii) molecular spectroscopy and dynamics; (iii) electronic structure theory;
  • Demonstrable ability to understand complex scientific problems and design and implement solutions
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to communicate complex information orally, both through presentations at national and/or international scientific conferences and in individual discussion.
  • Demonstrable ability in scientific computer programming, including experience of developing complex programs to solve research problems in molecular quantum mechanics.


  • 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.



  • Strong record of publication in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Track record of presenting research at national and/or international scientific conferences, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to design solutions to problems that arise in scientific research.
  • Experience of overseeing students and helping to develop their research skills, e.g. acting as a demonstrator or supervising student projects.
  • Breadth and depth of knowledge of theoretical molecular or chemical physics, ideally in the areas of quantum dynamics and/or ultracold molecules.
  • Experience of developing complex computer programs in FORTRAN.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.
  • Ability to think independently, identify key scientific questions, and come up with creative solutions to scientific problems

How to Apply

For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Jeremy M. Hutson by email at J.M.Hutson@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;
  • A full list of publications, with an indication of the applicant’s contribution to each one.
  • An example of a computer program or subroutine, written personally by the applicant, preferably in FORTRAN (any version), together with an explanation the scientific problem it solves and and its capabilities. This should be submitted in pdf form.
  • Guideline: 200-500 lines of FORTRAN code, including appropriate comments.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include evaluation of research record, including publications, and assessment of the example computer program submitted.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview as soon as possible after initial assessment. Interviews may be by telephone or Skype/Zoom/Teams if appropriate.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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