Ledig stilling på Universitetet i Oslo

Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)
Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)

PhD Research Fellowship in Nuclear Astrophysics

Deadline: 29.02.2020

Job description

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest rated institution of research and education with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. Its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally esteemed research communities make UiO an important contributor to society.


The research at the Department of Physics covers a broad range of subfields within physics and technology: From space research to medical physics. A good proportion of the research is interdisciplinary, and conducted in close cooperation with collaborators in Norway and abroad. Education and teaching are other essential activities.


We offer a broad range of courses, and the Department is involved in several study programmes at bachelor’s and master’s level. Some of the best lecturers in Norway are amongst our employees, and we are proud of our prizewinning teaching and learning environment. The Department has 200 employees, of which 50 are permanent scientific positions. On a yearly basis 20 students complete their Ph.D. and 50 finish their M.Sc. degree.

Flere stillinger fra Universitetet i Oslo

A position as PhD Research Fellow in Nuclear Astrophysics is available at the Department of Physics.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

The PhD position is of 3 years duration. If the candidate has the necessary qualifications and based on the teaching need of the Department, the candidate can apply for an additional 25 % teaching duty resulting in a total length of the fellowship of 4 years.

Starting date no later than 01.10.2020.

More about the position

The field of nuclear astrophysics connects the tiny, quantum-physics governed world with the macroscopic scale of stars and galaxies. The scientific community made a huge leap forward in 2017, when the gravitational-wave detectors LIGO and Virgo identified for the first time a “live” collision of two neutron stars. Follow-up measurements of the electromagnetic transient (“kilonova”) confirmed that elements heavier than iron had indeed been produced in the rapid neutron-capture process (r process), 50 years after it was first proposed by Burbidge et al. and Cameron.

Despite this first direct observation of the r-process taking place, we are still facing huge uncertainties in predicting nucleosynthesis yields from neutron-star merger events. Moreover, very old stars in the Galactic halo and some other peculiar stars display unusual element-abundance patterns that deviate significantly from what we observe in the solar system. A new nucleosynthesis process called the intermediate neutron capture process (i process) has been proposed, but at present it is not clear under which astrophysical conditions it can operate, or whether this process also has contributed to the enrichment of heavy elements in our own solar system. Equally important, for both the r and i process, the nuclear physics input used for large nuclear network calculations of the nucleosynthesis yields is highly uncertain, leading to a spread in the predicted yields up to three-four orders of magnitude.

Suggested main objectives for the PhD include:

  • Experimental studies of important “bottle necks” in the i-process nucleosynthesis network at the Oslo Cyclotron Laboratory. Using the so-called Oslo method, astrophysical neutron-capture rates that cannot be directly measured will be experimentally constrained, thus reducing the huge theoretical uncertainties in these rates.
  • Vary the nuclear-physics input that goes into the i- and r-process nucleosynthesis calculations in a consistent way so as to preserve nuclear physics correlations; this way one should obtain a more realistic uncertainty estimate for the yields and identify key nuclear reaction rates that most urgently need experimental investigations. Here we will utilize open-source codes such as Skynet and/or NucNet Tools, interfaced to the massively parallelized GAMBIT software tool for smart exploration of the high-dimensional space of nuclear physics inputs.
  • Explore possibilities for Bayesian methods and machine-learning techniques, e.g. Gaussian processes and Bayesian neural networks, to better estimate prediction uncertainties caused by uncertainties in the individual nuclear properties that impact the predicted yields most significantly. As the parameter space is huge, this is a rather formidable task, and we foresee that it should possibly be reduced by focusing on only a few selected nuclear properties. Again, we envision using the open-source GAMBIT tool to analyze the high-dimensional parameter space.
  • Use the results from the above points to give better input for Galactic chemical evolution models using cosmological galaxy formation simulations such as the ERIS simulation, and to predict the r and i processes enrichment patterns in different galactic environment, which can be tested in current and upcoming observations.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition is to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in nuclear physics, astrophysics, theoretical physics or computational physics
  • Solid programming skills in C++ and/or Python
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English. Please see English requirements for applicants from outside of EU/ EEA countries
  • Good social and collaboration skills and ability to work independently and in an interdisciplinary scientific environment

Candidates without a Master’s degree have until 30 June, 2020 to complete the final exam.

Grade requirements:

The norm is as follows:

  • The average grade point for courses included in the Bachelor’s degree must be C or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • The average grade point for courses included in the Master’s degree must be B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • The Master’s thesis must have the grade B or better in the Norwegian educational system

Other desired qualifications include:

  • Experience with nuclear-physics experiments (charged particle detection, large-volume scintillator detectors, or other relevant background)
  • Experience with machine learning and/or high-performance computing

For candidates who apply for a fourth year including teaching, good knowledge of Norwegian or another Scandinavian language is strongly preferred.

The purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a PhD degree.

The fellowship requires admission to the PhD program at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The application to the PhD program must be submitted to the department no later than two months after taking up the position. For more information see:

http://www.uio.no/english/research/phd/

http://www.mn.uio.no/english/research/phd/

We offer

  • Salary NOK 479 600 – 523 200 per annum depending on qualifications and seniority as PhD Research Fellow (position code 1017)
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Career development programmes
  • Oslo’s family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • Cover letter including a description of scientific interests and the motivation for applying for the position (max. 2 pages)
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic work - scientific publications)
  • Copies of the original Bachelor and Master’s degree diploma, transcripts of records and letters of recommendation
  • Documentation of English proficiency if needed (please see admission criteria)
  • List of publications and academic work that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)
  • Applicants who are interested in teaching need to add to this application a description of their motivation for teaching.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link “Apply for this job”. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language). Note that applications with missing documents will not be considered further.

Applicants will normally be called in for an interview.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

The University of Oslo aims to achieve a balanced gender composition in the workforce and to recruit people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

Contact information

For technical questions regarding the application system, please contact HR Adviser Elin Thoresen, +47 22 85 71 96, e-mail: [email protected]

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