Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Theory of Ultracold Molecules

County of Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322
Jun 03, 2020
Jul 01, 2020
Contract Type
Full Time
Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities withstrengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We arehome to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around theworld who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where itshares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, thegreatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durhamrecruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatchedwider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a halfsouth of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and naturalbeauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of OutstandingNatural Beauty, are home to breath-taking scenery and attractions. Durhamoffers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations.The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcarebenefits and the University's Relocation Manager can assist with potentialschooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusiveand supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of ourUniversity community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strengthand we welcome applications from across the international, national andregional communities that we work with and serve.


This post is based in the Durham Chemistry Department but hasclose links to researchers in the Physics Department.

Durham Chemistry is one of the very best UK chemistrydepartments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, researchand employability of our students. The Department was ranked 5th overall inREF2014 in terms of grade point average and 1st for impact. It routinelyfeatures high in national league tables and is 3rd in the Complete UniversityGuide 2018. Our research spans the range of organic, inorganic, physical andtheoretical chemistry. There is strong research in experimental chemicalphysics, including the groups of Prof. Jan Verlet, Dr. Eckart Wrede and Dr.David Carty, and in theoretical chemical physics, including the groups of ProfMark Wilson, Prof David Tozer, Dr Mark Miller and Dr Basile Curchod.

The Atomic and Molecular Physics group at Durham includes theresearch groups of Prof Simon L Cornish, Prof Charles S Adams, Prof Ifan GHughes, Prof Matthew P A Jones, Dr Vivien Kendon and Dr Robert M Potvliege. Thegroup is part of the Durham-Newcastle Joint Quantum Centre (JQC) and has strongcollaborations both within the UK and internationally.


Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral ResearchAssociate in theoretical atomic and molecular physics, to work in associationwith Prof Jeremy M Hutson on the quantum mechanics involved in the formationand properties of ultracold molecules. The theoretical work is associated withan EPSRC-funded Programme Grant in collaboration with the experimental groupsof Prof Simon L Cornish in the Durham Physics Department and Prof Michael JTarbutt at Imperial College London, and theory group of Prof Dieter Jaksch atOxford University. The collaboration has already succeeded in forming ultracoldpolar RbCs and CaF molecules in their absolute ground state at temperaturesaround 1 microKelvin, and is now developing their use for quantum science.

The successful applicant will be expected to carry outinternationally leading theoretical and computational research on theformation, properties and applications of ultracold molecules.

Further details of the research group are available at and a description of recent researchachievements and current projects is at


• To understand and convey material of a specialist or highlytechnical nature to the team or group of people through presentations anddiscussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferencesand publications.
• To prepare and deliver presentations on researchoutputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academicand non-academic audiences.
• To publish high-quality outputs, including papers forsubmission to peer-reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferencesand workshops, under the direction of the Principal Investigator orGrant-holder.
• To assist with the development of research objectives andproposals.
• To conduct individual and collaborative research projectsunder the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
• To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder andother 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 ofresearch objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigatoror Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
• To liaise with research colleagues and make internal andexternal contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationshipsfor future research collaboration.
• To plan and manage own research activity, researchresources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning ofresearch projects.
• To deliver training in research techniques/approaches topeers, visitors and students as appropriate.
• To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, andassist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
• To contribute to fostering a collegial working environmentwhich is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly withdignity and respect.
• To engage in wider citizenship to support the departmentand wider discipline.
• To engage in continuing professional development byparticipation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or bymembership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant trainingand development courses.

There are two posts available which are fixed term until 30 November 2022. The posts are supported by theEPSRC Programme grant "QSUM: Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules".

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a researchproject which will be led by Professor Jeremy M Hutson. Whilst this means thatthe post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her ownright, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of theproject, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation anddevelopment of research protocols.

The successful applicant will join the group as soon aspossible, and preferably no later than 1 December 2020.The Requirements


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

2. Experience
• Experience in conducting and publishing high-qualityacademic research.
• Experience of developing quantum-mechanical methods in oneor more of
(i) electronic structure theory; (ii) molecular spectroscopyand dynamics; (iii) atomic or molecular collision theory.
• Demonstrable ability to understand complex scientificproblems and design and implement solutions
• Demonstrable ability to write material of a qualitycommensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
• Demonstrable ability to communicate complex informationorally, both through presentations at national and/or international scientificconferences and in individual discussion.
• Demonstrable ability in scientific computer programming,including experience of developing complex programs to solve research problemsin molecular quantum mechanics.

3. Skills
• Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of ateam, including participation in research meetings.
• Ability to work independently on own initiative and tostrict deadlines.
• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.


4. Experience
• Strong publication record of publication in peer-reviewedjournals, commensurate with stage of career.
• Track record of presenting research at national and/orinternational scientific conferences, commensurate with stage of career.
• Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals anddesigns in collaboration with other academics.
• Experience of overseeing students and helping to developtheir research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator or supervising studentprojects.
• Breadth and depth of knowledge of theoretical molecular orchemical physics, ideally in the areas of quantum dynamics and/or ultracoldmolecules.
• Experience of developing complex computer programs inFORTRAN.

5. Skills
• Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independentresearch.
• Ability to think independently, identify key scientificquestions, and come up with creative solutions to scientific problems

Howto Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Professor Jeremy MHutson by email at All enquiries will be treated inthe strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the DurhamUniversity Vacancies Site. As part of the applicationprocess, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research)referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek anemployment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and blackand minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts inthe University.

Whatto 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 theapplicant's contribution to each one.
• An example of a computer program or subroutine, writtenpersonally by the applicant, preferably in FORTRAN (any version), together withan explanation the scientific problem it solves and and its capabilities. Thisshould be submitted in pdf form.
Guideline: 200-500 lines of FORTRAN code, includingappropriate comments.


The assessment for the post will include evaluation ofresearch record, including publications, and assessment of the example computerprogram submitted. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview as soonas possible after initial assessment. Interviews may be by telephone or Skypeif appropriate.