Research Fellow in Atomic-Scale Simulation in Planetary Cores

University of Leeds

Leeds, United Kingdom

ID: 7065019 (Ref.No. ENVEE1388)
Posted: March 4, 2020

Job Description

Are you an ambitious researcher looking for your next challenge? Do you have a background in atomic-scale simulation or condensed-matter physics and an interest in applying your skills to understand the dynamics and evolution of planetary interiors? Do you want to further your career in one of the UK’s leading research intensive Universities?

We are seeking a Research Fellow to fulfil a key role in our project by developing atomic-scale simulations of crystal nucleation in iron alloys to establish the conditions under which solids form and grow in Earth’s core, then using these results to develop new models of the thermal and magnetic evolution of the Earth’s core over the past 4.5 billion years. You will be based in the deep Earth research group within the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) at the University of Leeds and work closely with Dr. Andrew Walker and Dr Chris Davies. You will also collaborate closely with Dr. Monica Pozzo and Prof. Dario Alfè at University College London (UCL). This work is part of the NERC-funded project “Resolving the Inner Core Nucleation Paradox” with the University of Leeds and UCL.  

You will begin by using molecular dynamics to simulate crystallisation of iron alloys in Earth’s core, generalising recent work by the group that has demonstrated the importance of crystal nucleation processes (Davies, Pozzo, Alfè, Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett., 2019). You will conduct simulations across a large range of pressure-temperature-composition conditions relevant to the Earth’s deep core and produce detailed analyses of the processes of crystal nucleation and growth. This work will constrain the supercooling required to form crystals at Earth’s centre. You will then incorporate these results into models that describe the long-term thermal and magnetic evolution of Earth’s core. Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach, you will provide robust bounds on key unknown quantities in deep Earth geophysics such as the age of the solid inner core and the present-day heat loss from the core.

You will have a PhD or be close to completion i.e. the initial thesis needs to have been handed in at the point of application in geophysics, physics or a similar highly numerical discipline with a strong background in computational modelling and atomic-scale simulation. You will also have the ability to conduct independent research and a developing track record of publications in international journals. In addition, you will have excellent communication, planning, and team working skills.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact:

Name of Hiring Manager: Dr. Chris Davies

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 1140, email:

Location:  Leeds - Main Campus
Faculty/Service:  Faculty of Environment
School/Institute:  School of Earth and Environment
Category:  Research
Grade:  Grade 7
Salary:  £33,797 to £40,322 p.a.
Due to funding restrictions we are unlikely to offer a starting salary of more than £34,804 p.a.
Working Time:  100% - We will consider job share/flexible working arrangements
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (until 30 June 2023, to start no later than 1 July 2020 (external funding))
Release Date:  Monday 02 March 2020
Closing Date:  Wednesday 01 April 2020
Reference:  ENVEE1388


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