The Role Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcy
Associate to join 'Exploring Uncertainty and Risk in Contemporary
Astrobiology', a Leverhulme Trust-funded research project led by Dr
Peter Vickers, with Dr Sean McMahon, Professor Chris Greenwell, and
Professor Martin Ward as Co-Investigators. The project also
features a steering committee with six relevant experts: Carol
Cleland, Catriona Menzies, Lynn Rothschild, Tom McCleish, Steven J.
Dick, and Lee Cronin.
One thing that sets the field of
astrobiology apart is the degree of uncertainty compared with other
fields: open questions abound, and in recent decades
astrobiologists have been surprised by unanticipated developments,
both theoretical and empirical. Such uncertainty generates
significant disagreement in the community, even concerning the
central concept of a 'biosignature'. In addition, astrobiologists
are aware of the fact that some of the most important advances in
the field have had surprising origins, and several projects and
missions have made discoveries that were not anticipated at the
planning stage or during competition for funding.
With guidance from the PI and Co-Is,
the PDRA will critically analyse the spread of low/medium/high risk
projects in the community, cataloguing projects and missions over
the past ~20 years, and develop a strategy for improved balance of
risk and reward in the field moving forward, as well as
investigating how effectively risks and rewards are balanced during
selected astrobiology mission operations. The work will be
complemented by conducting (and eventually publishing) interviews
with astrobiologists concerning their own experiences and
perspectives of 'risk' and 'reward'. With the PI, the PDRA will
bring the 'scientific community modelling' literature to bear on
the astrobiology field. The PDRA will also be expected to: develop
project publications (as sole or joint author as appropriate),
attend project events including reading groups, assist with
organising activities such as conferences and seminars, and help
mentor the project's PhD student.
This position will come with a
dedicated budget for research expenses such as travel and
accommodation. This role offers an excellent opportunity for an
early career scholar to develop her/his research profile as part of
a multidisciplinary team.