Senior Researcher

United Arab Emirates University (UAEU)

Al Ain, UAE

Posted
Ref: RP749-655

Job description / Role

Employment: Full Time

Senior Researcher in Earth and Mars atmospheric retrievals

Job Description:

The National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) in Al Ain, UAE invites applications for a Senior Researcher in Earth and Mars atmospheric retrievals. The anticipated start date is as soon as possible but is likely to be sometime during late Fall 2020, for an initial period of three years.

Review of applications will begin on 6 September 2020, and the position will remain open until filled. The UAE is developing a research base in space science, and the main goal of this position is to build its expertise in the area of planetary atmospheric retrievals.

This will maximise the scientific return from the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), prepare Emirati researchers for future space missions, and familiarise them with the tools and principles used in atmospheric remote sensing. This will require training research assistants, students, and postdoctoral researchers. The project also aims to enhance the international status of the UAE within the Mars research community by dissemination of this work via conferences, journal articles, and datasets. - EMM will launch in July 2020 to study the influence of Mars' climate and lower atmosphere on the escape of oxygen and hydrogen from its upper atmosphere, what atmospheric processes drive diurnal variations, and how energy is transferred from the lower-middle atmosphere to the upper atmosphere.

We are looking for an experienced scientist with demonstrated expertise and experience in ultraviolet/visible/infrared and thermal infrared/microwave atmospheric retrievals from passive remote sensing instruments. They will develop the following program within the existing Planetary Science and Earth Observation groups at NSSTC. This will involve software development, retrieval product generation, student training, and scientific analysis.

There are three major aspects to the position:
• Develop algorithms to convert EMM L2 data (calibrated spectra) into L3 data (atmospheric quantities). This will use EMM's publicly available dataset. L3 data will already be produced by the EMM team, so the point of this work is to build expertise among Emirati students and researchers in the methods and mathematical principles of atmospheric retrievals, radiative transfer modelling, and scientific programming, by involving them at all stages of the process;
• Build a research program studying certain aspects of the lower Martian atmosphere based on these data products, involving students and junior researchers.
• Contribute to NSSTC research and development projects in Earth observation where atmospheric retrievals are required. For example, the hyperspectral 813 pan-Arab Earth observation satellite is currently under development at NSSTC and is due for launch in 2024. This will observe reflected solar radiation from Earth in 200 spectral bands between 400-2500 nm, with the UAE and other Arab nations as its primary region of interest.

The "Tasks and Responsibilities" section below lists specific tasks that the Senior Researcher will be expected to lead with respect to EMM data analysis. We are also recruiting a postdoctoral Fellow who will assist with these tasks, and the Senior Researcher will supervise their work. A short research proposal should be included describing a research program that the Senior Researcher will develop related to items (2) and (3) above.

We anticipate the Senior Researcher applying for their own funding to expand their research program, and supervising additional research assistants, students, and postdoctoral researchers in due course. There may also be the opportunity to teach for UAEU's new MSc in Space Science course, anticipated to begin in Spring 2021.

Minimum Qualification:
Tasks and Responsibilities (not exhaustive, and subject to periodic review): The research will use EMM's publicly-available datasets from the EMIRS (thermal infrared spectrometer) and EXI (visible/UV camera) instruments. Existing datasets from other spacecraft can also be used, as required.

The successful candidate is expected to:
• Develop open source tools for data reading and handling, data archiving and user access, data analysis, and visualization, that will support and validate L3 data from EMM;
• Develop open source tools to validate EMM data against other mission data;
• Train and build the capabilities and skills of local researchers, academics, and students associated with EMM in various capacities, including them in all stages of the process;
• Build a sequential software pipeline that will continuously produce EMM L3 data products and archive them locally;
• Conduct independent Mars atmospheric research based on EMM data products;
• Contribute to NSSTC research and development projects in Earth observation where atmospheric retrievals are required, including project management where required;
• Develop internal and external collaborations to meet the goals of the research program;
• Publish research work in the open scientific literature;
• Present research work to a variety of audiences within the University, the UAE, and at international conferences;
• Supervise research assistants, postdoctoral researchers, and research students;
• Apply for funding to grow the research program;
• Contribute to NSSTC capacity building, outreach events, and strategic research planning;
• Take part in NSSTC research group and business meetings;
• Represent NSSTC and UAE University within the UAE and internationally.

Requirements

Preferred Qualification:
• PhD degree in Physics, Atmospheric Science / Retrievals, Planetary Science, Meteorology, Physical Earth Science, Computer/Data Science, Astronomy, or a closely related field.

Expected Skills/Rank/Experience:

Experience Essential:
• Several years' experience in a relevant area post Ph.D;
• Experience in atmospheric remote sensing (Earth or other planets), including data processing, analysis, and interpretation, and related scientific programming;
• Proven expertise in atmospheric retrievals methods and mathematical principles, and radioactive transfer modelling;
• A strong track record of published work in a relevant field;
• Experience presenting your work at national and international conferences;
• Experience supervising research staff or students.

Desirable:
• Experience on one or more spacecraft mission science teams;
• Proven ability to attract research funding;
• Experience leading research projects.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Competencies:
• Have excellent communication skills in English, both verbal and written;
• Expertise in software tools for planetary data processing, analysis, and visualisation;
• Expertise in scientific programming codes (e.g. Fortran, Python, IDL) used in the field;
• A strong desire to contribute to cutting edge research on Earth and Mars;
• Self-motivated with the ability to work independently on a research project;
• The ability to lead and work within a team;
• Ability to write high-quality research papers and grant proposals;
• Ability to accomplish goals within expected timelines;
• Willingness to travel overseas when necessary.

About the Company

Founded in 1976 by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAEU is a comprehensive, research-intensive university enrolling about 14,000 Emirati and international students. As the UAE’s flagship university, UAEU offers a full range of accredited, high-quality graduate and undergraduate programs through nine Colleges: Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Food and Agriculture; Humanities and Social Sciences; IT; Law; Medicine and Health Sciences; and Science. With a distinguished international faculty, state-of-the art new campus, and full range of student support services, UAEU offers a living-learning environment that is unmatched in the UAE.

As a research-intensive university of international stature, UAEU works with its partners in industry to provide research solutions to challenges faced by the nation, the region, and the world. The University has established research centers of strategic importance to the country and the region which are advancing knowledge in critical areas ranging from water resources to cancer treatments. UAEU is currently ranked the number one research university in the GCC, number two in the Arab World, and #370 globally.

UAEU’s academic programs have been developed in partnership with employers, so our graduates are in high demand. UAEU alumni hold key positions in industry, commerce, and government throughout the region. Our continuing investments in facilities, services, and staff ensure that UAEU will continue to serve as a model of innovation and excellence.