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Postdoctoral Fellow (Physics

Amherst College
Massachusetts, United States
Salary Not specified
Date posted
Jan 8, 2024

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Job Details

Postdoctoral Fellow (Physics & Astronomy)

Amherst Campus
Part Time

Amherst has taken a leadership role among highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities in successfully diversifying the racial, socio-economic, and geographic profile of its student body. The College is similarly committed to enriching its educational experience and its culture through the diversity of its faculty, administration and staff.

Job Description:

The Physics & Astronomy Department at Amherst College invites applications for a postdoctoral researcher position to work with Prof. Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi in the field of brown dwarfs, giant exoplanets, and low mass stars, with a particular interest in atmospheres and formation. The Postdoctoral Fellow is a full-time, fixed-term position, starting at $46,670 per year. Given Amherst's distinction as one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country, the successful candidate will demonstrate the ways in which they bring value to and will work towards supporting a broadly diverse community.

This postdoc position in the Physics & Astronomy Department is a fixed-term position lasting for up to 3 years (July 1, 2024 - mid-2027). The postdoc will lead and collaborate on multiple research projects with the PI regarding brown dwarf spectroscopy and atmospheric modeling, orbital parameter estimation of binary stars, brown dwarfs, and planetary systems, and estimation of demographic statistics and trends for stellar and substellar populations. The postdoc will assist the PI in supervising and mentoring the undergraduate students in the research group. The position will be funded by the College's initiative to support a lab staff, and supplemented by a mix of NASA (JWST, HST) grants and/or start-up funds. The position has an initial appointment of one year with options for extending the term up to three years total.

The position will entail work on a variety of cutting-edge astronomical data and techniques, including atmospheric retrievals, orbit fitting, and calculating population statistics.

The Physics & Astronomy Department at Amherst College is part of the Five College Astronomy Department which includes the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Smith College, Hampshire College, and Mt. Holyoke College. The successful applicant will have access to FCAD resources including FCAD-allocated time on the 72-inch Perkins Telescope located in Flagstaff, AZ, the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) located in Mexico, the Amherst and Unity High Performance Computing clusters.

Summary of Responsibilities:

Research and scholarship
  • Support new and ongoing research programs from the PI's and postdocs ongoing collaborations
  • Measure survey sensitivity in HST archival images of ultracool dwarfs (UCD) to identify companions and set limits on single sources
  • Characterize targets and build databases with their fundamental parameters that will be shared as a resource with the astronomical community
  • Estimate population parameters from the imaging and spectroscopic surveys with a custom-designed Bayesian inference code
  • Test evolutionary models on newly identified stellar binary, benchmarks, and brown dwarf systems
  • Run atmospheric retrievals on a large library of spectral energy distributions of brown dwarfs
  • Analyze and interpret results from population studies and atmospheric retrievals
  • Participate in the preparation, publication, and dissemination of scientific results in peer reviewed journals and at conferences
  • Prepare James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope proposals for submission
  • Collaborate with other researchers at the College and Five College Astronomy Department, such as attending the department and FCAD colloquia, and engaging with the Five Colleges' academic environment

Training undergraduate students
  • Train a diverse set of undergraduate students in research, data analysis, and programming techniques as well as communicating scientific results
  • Identify short-term, medium-term, and long-term projects with the PI to appropriately assign them to academic interns, semester research students, and senior thesis writers
  • Collaborate with and mentor undergraduates in the lab, especially working closely with summer students and honors-thesis writers


  • PhD in Physics, Astronomy, or related field by the time the position starts
  • Demonstrated level of independence to perform research responsibilities
  • Strong attention to detail, time management, and organizational skills
  • Commitment to working with undergraduate students
  • Commitment to working with a diverse and inclusive community
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong programming skills, preferably in Python
  • Experience in one or more of brown dwarf science, exoplanet science, near-infrared spectroscopy, atmospheric spectral modeling, atmospheric retrievals, near-infrared imaging, space-based imaging, Hubble Space Telescope imaging, Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling, astronomical computational techniques

  • Experience working with undergraduate students
  • Strong background in IR astronomy and experience with the reduction and analysis of HST, JWST, or infrared data

Amherst College offers many opportunities for professional growth and development, continued learning, and career advancement.

Amherst College is pleased to provide a comprehensive, highly competitive benefits package that meets the needs of staff and faculty and their families. Benefits are an important part of our overall compensation, so it is critical that you review all of the options to ensure it meets your total compensation requirements. Click here for Benefits Information.

Applications must be submitted electronically as a single PDF file containing (1) a cover letter including the names of three references, (2) a curriculum vitae (including a list of publications), and (3) a brief research statement up to 3 pages including figures (but not references) that summarizes the candidate's experience, research interests, and an outlined plan of their proposed postdoctoral research at Please be sure to upload all requested documents prior to clicking Submit. Applications cannot be revised once submitted. (Current employees and students should apply by clicking on the Career icon from their Workday home screen) Review of applications will begin on December 15, 2023, and will continue until the search is concluded.

To find information about job group and level (JGL) follow this link.

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Amherst College

Amherst College prepares students to make a difference in the world. Our financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and our student body is among the most diverse. At Amherst, you are part of a lively, inquisitive, devoted community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who find inspiration in one another and in the process of learning.

Since our 1821 founding, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world.

Offering competitive compensation packages and a multitude of programs and services for staff, Amherst works to enrich the working life and support the well-being of each and every employee.

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