PhD position || Computational Astrochemistry: modeling molecular ice abundances

PhD position || Computational Astrochemistry: modeling molecular ice abundances

Published Deadline Location
10 Oct 22 Nov Leiden

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 22 Nov 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Computational Astrochemistry: modelling molecular ice abundances
Vacancy number: 14161

Job description

With the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope interstellar ice composition in dense molecular clouds and protoplanetary disks can be observed with unprecedented accuracy. Do you want to join our endeavour in understanding which molecules are formed throughout the course of star- and planet formation? Are you looking for a challenging research question that allows you to use your computational and scientific creativity? Then you might want to join our team as PhD candidate!

The Faculty of Science Leiden and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry, joint with the Leiden Observatory and the Institute for Molecules and Materials (Radboud University Nijmegen) are looking for a PhD candidate in the field of computational astrochemistry.

project description
Interstellar molecules in the gas phase as well as those on ices atop dust grains allow us to study the very early stages of star formation. Astrochemical modeling is crucial to bridge reaction timescales (picoseconds) to laboratory experiments (days) and astrophysical processes (million years). Models allow us to study astronomical objects as a function of the evolutionary stage, help to explain detection or non-detection of molecules, and clarify their role in the chemical and physical evolution of the object. The increased sensitivity and spatial resolution of the JWST reveals a complexity in the composition of the ices that our current gas-grain models can not yet explain. Our overall aim is to advance astrochemical ice modeling, beyond the current state-of-the-art, through an iterative process where detailed computational chemistry and coarse-grained astrochemical models feed into each other.

The position is funded for 4 years and will have a teaching load of 10 to 15%. You will be encouraged to participate in relevant conferences, workshops and seminars, and to communicate your results through publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Key responsibilities
You will be required to learn new computational methods and develop your own ideas of how to set up and analyze the results of a simulation. As you proceed through your PhD you are expected to take over the responsibility in defining the research and how to address the overarching research question(s).

During the PhD trajectory you will:
  • Set up and perform computational chemical simulations, e.g., DFT, molecular dynamics and/or metadynamcs as well as astrochemical modelling simulations;
  • Search for and keep up to date with relevant literature and techniques;
  • Engage in scientific discussions with colleagues, both in the institutes and eventually internationally;
  • Assist in bachelor/master courses at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry and/or Leiden Observatory;
  • Publish your results in peer-reviewed journals and in your thesis.


Leiden University


Selection criteria
We are looking for a highly motivated candidate, ideally with a background in computational chemistry and/or astrochemical modeling.
  • You have a Master's degree in physics, astronomy, chemistry, or a closely related field;
  • You have experience or a clear affinity with programming and computational studies such as atomistic simulations;
  • You have a clear interest in working in an interdisciplinary and collaborative research field and are willing to work on two locations (details to be discussed).
  • You have good writing skills and excellent communication skills.

Conditions of employment

We offer
We offer an inspiring working environment, rooted in the interdisciplinary nature of the project at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry and Leiden Observatory in close collaboration with the Institute for Molecules and Materials at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. The PhD candidate will have a lot of freedom to approach the research questions and the project can be shaped according to the aptitude of the student.
The position starts ideally in January 2024, or September 2024 at the latest. We offer a position for 12 + 36 months. You will be appointed in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The salary ranges from € 2.770,- to € 3.539,- gross per month, increasing yearly (pay scale P).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

Diversity and inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Leiden University
The Faculty of Science at Leiden University is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelors’ and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and over 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

Leiden University is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. Thanks to its committed and inspired employees, the university enjoys a leading role in academic research and education. Leiden also scores very well every year in prominent rankings. This means that, to maintain our position, the bar is set very high. Regardless of the work you do at our university, you are always encouraged to broaden your horizons, develop your talents and reach your full potential.

You can find more information about the faculty of Science at For more information about working at Leiden university please visit

Radboud University Nijmegen
The Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) is


  • PhD scholarship
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14161



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you