PostDoctoral Position in exoplanets direct imaging instrumentation

A 2-year Postdoc position is currently available in the newly founded Laboratory of Exoplanets Imaging and Adaptive optics (LEIA) of the University of Bern (Space Research and Planetary Sciences Division), starting no later than April 1st, 2023.
The successful candidate will work on novel instrumentation techniques for exoplanets high-contrast imaging in the near-infrared, from the laboratory to a 4-m ground-based telescope equipped with a state-of-the-art adaptive optics system. The research is part of the ERC Consolidator “RACE-GO” project (Rapid Adaptive Coronagraphy of Exoplanets from a Ground-based Observatory), funded by the Swiss Secretariat for Research and Innovation (SERI).She/he will be fully integrated within the vibrant Bernese space and planetary sciences academic environment, and as full member of the Swiss research network on exoplanets (NCCR PlanetS,

Applications are invited for one senior research assistant position (Postdoctoral fellow) at the University of Bern (Space Research and Planetary Sciences Division) to work under the supervision of Prof. Jonas Kühn on novel instrumentation techniques for direct imaging of exoplanets. The successful applicant is expected to lead the implementation of new exoplanet imaging techniques using pixelated “Spatial Light Modulators” (SLMs) display panels. The latter can be used as “programmable focal-plane phase mask coronagraphs”, to mask the unwanted light from the host star, in order to reveal faint off-axis astrophysical sources of interest (exoplanets, circumstellar disks).This position is part of the “RACE-GO” project, which aims at investigating how SLMs could be used as “active coronagraphs” to adapt to various observing conditions, target types (binary stars, giant stars) or to implement coherent differential imaging (CDI) techniques at high-speed. The RACE-GO project team will be allocated 60 Guaranteed Time Observing (GTO) nights spread over 2 years on the new Turkish 4-m DAG Telescope, to implement, validate and scientifically exploit the approach on-sky, and the applicant is expected to technically prepare and lead the initial phase of the observing campaign.

In particular, the postdoctoral fellow will work on instrumental aspects of adaptive coronagraphy, by interfacing and integrating key equipment (high-speed SLMs, high-speed near-infrared camera), before proceeding to on-site installation and on-sky commissioning at the telescope. In consequence, the applicant is expected to travel to Turkey (Erzurum Plateau) a few times per year, and spend at least a dozen nights observing. The candidate will be able to set up his own observation program towards the end of the position, if conditions allow. Overall, she/he will also play a key role in a small team of four people, notably helping to supervise and mentor two PhD candidates; hence team player qualities are crucial to this position.

A PhD degree in Physics, Astrophysics or Engineering (with specialization in astronomical instrumentation or adaptive optics), obtained within the last 5 years. Prior experience in astronomical instrumentation, observational astronomy, Python programming and/or benchtop optics is a plus.

We offer
This is a 2-year position, with an optional 3rd year extension available upon mutual agreement.
The salary starts at 88,000 CHF/year gross salary, commensurate with experience and with 5-week paid holidays per year, according to rules of the University of Bern and Canton of Bern. Childcare allowance is available.
The University of Bern is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in its workplace, and applications from under-represented minorities are strongly encouraged.

The following application material should be sent as a single pdf file to

• A motivation letter including contact details, information on skills and previous experience, and the names of 2-3 references/referees (max. 3 pages).
• Curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages), plus a list of publications (not included in page count).
• Academic transcripts of PhD and MSc grades.

Two to three letters of recommendation should be sent directly to Prof. Kühn by the referees themselves, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the letters are sent on due date.

Application deadline: January 15, 2023, for full consideration, then until the position is filled.