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Postdoctoral Research Associate

LocationCallaghan, NSW 2308
Work TypeFull Time - Fixed Term
Positions1 Position
Job no: HRC0002974
Category: Academic, Level A
  • Work with Associate Professor David Pontin and Dr Hannah Schunker to model the processes on the Sun that drive Space Weather
  • Build your international presence and collaborations in a global research environment
  • Combine your passions for research and innovation in the field of computational astrophysics, with application to the Sun and beyond.

Our vision to become a world-leading university for our regions will take passion and perseverance. We can’t do it without you.

The University of Newcastle stands as a global leader distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence. Our vision is to be a world-leading University for our regions and creating a better future for our regions and the globe. Underpinned by this vision and our values of excellence, equity, engagement and sustainability, the University of Newcastle’s Looking Ahead Strategic Plan 2020-2025 outlines the University’s commitment to delivering an exceptional student experience and serving our communities.

We are looking for people to join our university and bring their global expertise to our region, and to take their impactful research to the world with us.

We are driven by our inclusive focus and are proud of our five-star rating for social equity. We are among the first 15 universities in Australia to receive the Bronze Award under the Athena Swan Charter and we’re striving to achieve Silver.

About us

The University’s College of Engineering, Science and Environment (CESE) brings together expertise in engineering, environment, and the sciences to deliver life ready graduates and transformative solutions to our region and the world. CESE strives for excellence, innovation and equity in teaching, education, research and partnerships. We are global leaders uncovering new knowledge, creating revolutionary technology, and delivering innovative teaching.

The School of Information and Physical Sciences (SIPS) accommodates the disciplines of Mathematics, Data Science and Statistics, Computing and Information Technology, and Physics. The vision of SIPS is aligned with the University's strategic plan "Looking Ahead" and aims to provide a transformative, modern and relevant learning experience where students acquire practical skills, leading to work and life-ready graduates. Research at the School is of a quality that is 'well above world standard' and is relevant, collaborative, interdisciplinary and impactful. The school is dedicated to diversity, equity and social justice, while embracing our Indigenous culture in all aspects of its work.

Be challenged and imagine with us

You will use theory, data analysis, and computation to improve our ability to model the dynamical evolution of solar active regions, which are responsible for solar activity including solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Flares and CMEs are the most energetic events in the solar system and can create hazardous conditions in our local space environment.

This project involves: developing a predictive capability for the evolution of the Sun's surface magnetic field, using physical models, machine learning and observational data; creating ensemble data-driven simulations of active regions in the Sun's atmosphere; applying the ensemble modelling to predict solar eruptions from first principles, and forecasting their physical properties.

How will we inspire you?

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council through a grant on “Ensemble Modelling of Space Weather Drivers”. The successful applicant will work within a research team that includes A/Prof David Pontin and Dr Hannah Schunker (Univ. Newcastle), Prof Michael Wheatland (Univ. Sydney) and Dr Mark Cheung (CSIRO).

In this role you will:

  • Analyse solar data, develop numerical models for coronal magnetic fields, and apply and test the models
  • Collaborate closely with members of the research team and external researchers, and assist students in research projects
  • Undertake domestic and international travel to meet the goals of the project
  • Publish results in high-impact journals
  • Communicate results at local and international meetings.

How will you inspire us?

The essential criteria for success include:

  • a PhD in solar physics, (space) plasma physics, astrophysics, weather/climate modelling, applied mathematics or similar subject
  • excellent computational skills, including the ability to write compiled codes for large-scale computation, as well as codes in Python or other languages for data analysis
  • demonstrated skills in data analysis, computational modelling using data, and the visualisation and interpretation of data and models
  • demonstrated ability to conduct research/scholarly activities under limited supervision, as well as to work effectively as a member of a team
  • excellent communication (written and verbal), as well as organisational and problem-solving skills with attention to detail
  • experience in handling astrophysical datasets
  • a history of publication in peer-reviewed journals as a sole author and/or in collaboration
  • experience in research record-keeping and preparation of research papers and seminars.

For the full list of essential and desirable selection criteria, please review the Position Description.


What we offer

This fixed-term position is full time until the end of December 2025, with possibility of extension, and will be located at the Callaghan Campus (Awabakal and Worimi land). 

The remuneration range is from $75,870 – $102,962 plus 17% superannuation and leave loading.  

For information on our employee benefits (such as flexible working, discounts in private health insurance and gym memberships and salary packaging) please click here.

The University is committed to being a leader in family-friendly working environments.


Move to Newcastle

A move to Newcastle offers you the choice to live in the city, by the sea or near bushland - the region offers a wonderful place for a family to grow and the opportunity to strike a work/life balance.

Visit the City of Newcastle site to imagine your future in Newcastle.

Let’s be part of something bigger together. 

Visit this page for a guide on how to apply for a role.

Your application must include:

  • Your ORCID ID
  • A URL link to your University Academic Profile (or equivalent)
  • A Cover Letter; outlining your interest in the role
  • A statement addressing all of the Essential and Desirable Criteria, as provided in the Position Description (4 pages max)
  • Your CV, which should be succinct and discipline appropriate.

Please upload your Cover Letter and response to the requested Criteria as one PDF document.

For specific position enquiries, please contact Associate Prof. David Pontin on 02 4055 3261 or via email david.pontin@newcastle.edu.au.

Having difficulties? Please reach out to us: employment@newcastle.edu.au

Closing date: 25th October 2023 at 11.59pm AEST

We are excited to be Looking Ahead with you

The University of Newcastle is an equal opportunity employer committed to equity, diversity and social inclusion. Women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

We provide opportunities for all people regardless of their background and experience, and this philosophy is reflected across all that we do.