SAO Postdoctoral Fellow in Laboratory Astrochemistry and Chemical Analysis

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Atomic & Molecular Physics Division
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement
In-Person Location(s)

Cambridge, MA
United States

Job Description

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) invites applications for a postdoctoral fellow in the research group of Dr. Michael C. McCarthy. The McCarthy group is engaged in a broad research effort centered around high-resolution rotational spectroscopy of highly reactive molecules of astronomical and chemical importance.  Of particular interest is the development of new tools and methods to rapidly analyze complex chemical mixtures in which tens or even hundreds of different chemical compounds are simultaneously present, many of which are entirely new species that have never been characterized previously.  In close coordination with the McGuire group at MIT, we seek to greatly extend these methodologies to identify and quantify the concentration of known molecules and to discover new chemicals in near real-time.  Beyond the immediate astronomical interest, these new approaches hold great promise to address real-world situations such as small molecule biomarker discovery, environmental monitoring, and chemical threat detection. The fellow will primarily support this effort but will have the freedom to propose and pursue their own research within the group.

Applicants must have a PhD in astrophysics, physics, chemistry, or a closely related discipline by the start of the position. Expertise in high-resolution microwave spectroscopy, particularly cavity-enhanced and/or chirped-pulse variants, as well as vacuum instrumentation is strongly preferred.  Proficiencies with machine learning or other AI methods, quantum chemical calculations, statistical analysis, and Python are highly desirable. The successful applicant will work collaboratively with students and other members of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, in addition to the McGuire group at MIT.  The position is for three years, subject to annual renewals contingent upon performance. The anticipated start date is Summer or Fall 2024, but earlier start dates are possible. The annual stipend for the fellow for the first year will be approximately $72,000 and includes cost-of-living increases in subsequent years, again subject to satisfactory performance. The fellow will also receive full support for health and dental insurance at no cost, which also includes applicable dependents. Funds to support travel and publications are available from other funds.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, publication list, and a brief statement of research interests, experience, diversity efforts, and future plans (maximum 3 pages, not including references) via Academic Jobs Online (AJO link Additionally, please arrange for three letters of recommendation to be submitted through AJO. Please direct questions about the position to Dr. Michael McCarthy ([email protected]).

About the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA)

Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) is a joint institution connecting the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Harvard College Observatory (HCO). The CfA is a diverse astrophysical institution at which more than 800 staff and students are engaged in a broad program of research and education in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. The CfA is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. Our research covers theoretical astrophysics, observational ground and space-based astronomy, engineering and technology development, and education. The research objectives of the CfA are carried out primarily with the support of government, Smithsonian Institution, and Harvard funds, with additional philanthropic support. At the CfA, the next generation of scientific leaders are being trained and mentored through a broad range of undergraduate and graduate student programs, postdoctoral positions and fellowships.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Jan 11
Application Deadline
2024 May 15


Dr. Michael McCarthy