Education and Outreach

Astrobiology Postdoctoral Position at the University of Washington

By Keith Cowing
December 15, 2007

This two-year position is jointly funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) and the Astrobiology Program (AP) at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. The Virtual Planetary Laboratory, based at the University of Washington (, is an interdisciplinary research team of 40 members at 22 institutions. The VPL team undertakes interdisciplinary modeling research on the formation of habitable planets; their interaction with their parent star; the environments of the Early Earth; the plausible range of habitable extrasolar terrestrial environments; and the nature and detectability of remotely-sensed biosignatures.

The UW Astrobiology Program ( provides an interdisciplinary graduate education program in which students from participating departments work for a Graduate Certificate of Astrobiology in addition to a Ph.D from their home department. The UW-AP includes faculty from the Aeronautics & Astronautics, Astronomy, Atmospheric Sciences, Earth & Space Sciences, History (of Science), Microbiology, and Oceanography Departments (web sites can be accessed via UW-AP faculty are active in the following research areas (and many others): comets and interplanetary dust; extrasolar planets; solar system dynamics; planetary atmospheres, magnetospheres and interiors; life and environments on the early Earth; microbial phylogenetic studies; Phanerozoic mass extinctions; extremophile microorganisms; deep sea hydrothermal vents; and broader cultural implications of the field.
The successful applicant will (a) conduct a research program that fits within the broad scientific goals of both the VPL and AP efforts, and (b) contribute directly to the astrobiology graduate education program each year by, for example, teaching a course or seminar, running a workshop or field trip, or developing the curriculum. They will conduct research with one or more members of both the VPL and AP, thus linking researchers across these two programs.

The successful applicant will have received a Ph.D. by the time of assuming this position, and will have a demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary research and education. The position is intended to begin as soon as possible, but no later than September 2008. Please submit a curriculum vitae; a statement of proposed research, and its links to VPL and AP research areas; the names of the VPL and AP member(s) with whom you wish to work; a statement of proposed contributions to the education program; two reprints or preprints (or online access information) that best show your research in astrobiology; and the names and contact information (e-mail, tel.) of three persons from whom you have already requested letters of recommendation. Send this material to:

Prof. Victoria Meadows
Astrobiology Postdoc Search Committee
Department of Astronomy Box 351580
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-1580 USA
tel. 206-543-0206
fax 206-685-0403

Priority will be given to applications and letters of recommendation received by 31 January 2008.

[source: NAI Newsletter]

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.