Research Fellow in Astronautical Engineering

Southampton, United Kingdom
£34,314 to £41,931 per annum
01 Jun 2023
End of advertisement period
28 Jun 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Location:  Boldrewood Campus
Salary:   £34,314 to £41,931 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term for 1 year
Closing Date:  Wednesday 28 June 2023
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  2318623DA

We are seeking an enthusiastic Postdoctoral Researcher to undertake a 12-month project funded by the UK Space Agency. The overall aim of the project is to use Raman Spectroscopy for the Trace Detection of Biosignatures on planetary bodies such as Mars and Europa, which are planetary bodies of particular interest in relation to habitability, as identified by NASA and other Space agencies.

Raman Spectroscopy has gained popularity with major space agencies in planetary exploration over the last decade as an exceptionally versatile non-destructive compositional analysis technique. One of the main challenges in Raman spectroscopy is that it is not particularly sensitive to trace molecules within sampled material. We propose to both develop the TRL and demonstrate the advancement of the Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) technology that enables detecting trace biosignatures in the Martian regolith and polar ice caps.

The role

Working under the direction of Dr Hanna Sykulska-Lawrence (Astronautics Group, University of Southampton) you will conduct research so that upon completion, this project will provide crucial proof of concept for highly reproducible and durable SERS technique compatible with planetary exploration.

The key research activities include:

  • Developing in-situ nanostructure SERS substrates using a variety of fundamental designs
  • Characterizing and performance-testing the substrates to prove the effectiveness of the technique

You will have the opportunity to work and be trained in Southampton’s world-class cleanroom facilities and gain experience in a variety of experimental techniques.

In addition, you will contribute to the research group's activities, publish new findings in peer-reviewed journals, contribute where necessary to project management tasks and present results at conferences. 

About you

You should have a good first degree and postgraduate qualification* in a relevant Engineering, Physics or Chemistry discipline, and experience in designing and conducting experimental research. Any experience with Raman Spectrometers or with Lithography techniques is helpful, although inessential and the opportunity for the relevant training will be provided. You will need to be able to work independently and as part of the project team. A candidate within three months of completion of their doctoral studies will also be considered. 

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in the School of Engineering. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBT and applicants with visible and/or invisible disabilities to apply for this position. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science, we were awarded an Athena SWAN bronze in 2013 and 2016.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Hanna Sykulska-Lawrence ( Applications are only accepted via the online application process.

*Applications will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification.  The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon completion of PhD.  Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

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