PhD Fellowship in Laboratory Astrochemistry 2017, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Publish Date: Feb 07, 2017

Deadline: Mar 01, 2017

About the position

The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The Molecular Photonics group is active in various areas of photophysical and photochemical research. One of the special areas is astrochemistry, aimed to enhance the interplay between chemistry and astronomy research by bringing state-of-the-art chemistry research to astronomical applications.

Job description

Aromatic hydrocarbons are important molecules in many fields such as photochemical research, environmental physics, and nanophysics. They are also of major importance in astrochemistry or the chemistry in interstellar matter, where they play a key role in the formation of planets and are possible precursors of life. Although they are ubiquitous, our knowledge about their inventory and chemical role in space is limited. In this project, state-of-the-art laboratory techniques in physical chemistry will be applied and new approaches will be developed to investigate ionic and neutral Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) species. The aim is to study the branching and kinetics involved in the fragmentation and cooling of PAHs upon UV excitation for various PAH species. The project will add PAH specificity to existing astronomical PAH models and thus help unravel the role PAHs play in interstellar chemistry.

The PhD candidate will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam. He/she will perform UV photodissociation studies on PAH species of different shapes and sizes within a small research team, extended by cooling experiments in Israel within a collaborative group. The PhD candidate will be appointed within the framework of the Dutch Astrochemistry Network (DAN-II), recently funded by the Dutch Science Organization NWO. This is a highly interdisciplinary network combining the astronomical and chemical expertise in the Netherlands with the goal of understanding the origin and evolution of molecules in space and their role in the Universe. This PhD project is part of a coherent DAN-II program involving astrochemical and astrophysical experiments, quantum chemical calculations, and laboratory spectroscopy of astronomically relevant species in combination with an active program on modeling and observations of astronomical sources. The PhD candidate will furthermore be part of a strong collaboration between NWO and NASA Ames Research Center, coupling the expertise and facilities of the DAN-II members and the NASA ARC astrochemistry and astrobiology members. He/she will specifically collaborate with the Leiden Observatory to help implement the experimental findings in existing astronomical PAH models and to make the results available for the astrochemical community. This will provide him/her with a well-rounded research in astrochemistry and position him/her well for a further career in this field.


For this position the required background is a MSc. degree in a relevant field (physics, astronomy or chemistry). We are looking for PhD candidates who have an affinity with experimental physical chemistry or astrochemistry. In addition, we are looking for candidates who can work both independently and as a team member. Good communication skills in the English language are essential. Due to administrative aspects the project should start as soon as possible. Therefore we will preferably consider candidates that are currently in Europe.

Further information

For further information, please contact:

  • Annemieke Petrignani
    T: +31 (0)20 525 7158
    Personal website
  •  Wybren Jan Buma
    T: +31 (0)20 525 6973
    Personal website


The desired start date of the project is in March 2017.

The full-time appointment will be on a temporary base for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2.191 in the first year to €2.801 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Job application

Applications for the position at the University of Amsterdam may only be submitted by sending your application to To process your application immediately, please quote vacancy number 17-030 and the position you are applying for in the subject-line.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a motivation letter (why did you choose to apply for this position), and the name(s) and contact details of one or two academic referees. All these should be grouped in one PDF attachment.

The selection process commences immediately, but will close when suitable candidates have been found. Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with. 

For more information click "Further official information" below.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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