Planetary Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher | Los Alamos, NM | Los Alamos National Laboratory

Planetary Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher

What You Will Do

Join our team and become a planetary defender! The XCP-8 (Applied Computational Physics, Verification and Analysis) group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) seeks a post-doctoral candidate in the area of numerical modeling for planetary sciences, with an emphasis on continuum-scale modeling of bolides, airbursts, and their atmospheric effects, using radiation hydrodynamics codes and high-performance computing resources, to model airbursts like the 1908 Tunguska event and the 2014 Chelyabinsk event. This work will be done as a part of the LANL Planetary Defense team, under the mentorship of Dr. Cathy Plesko and Dr. Mark Boslough. A successful candidate will test, verify, and validate (as appropriate) relevant physics models and may extend, develop, and/or implement needed physics models within the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) code base in order to carry out the airburst simulations. The successful candidate will be expected to work in a team environment, to test computational physics models in large production software, publish the research in peer-reviewed journals, and present work at international conferences.

What You Need

Minimum Job Requirements:

Planetary sciences

You will need an understanding of small solar system body composition, atmospheric dynamics, and impact processes.

Computational geophysics

For this role you must have demonstrated use of continuum scale numerical modeling methods applied to geophysical or atmospheric science problems.

Shock physics

You will need to be proficient in shock physics, aerodynamics, and radiation hydrodynamics.

Publications & Presentations

You will need to have demonstrated scientific productivity as evidenced by publications, scientific reports, presentations


Communication skills are critical to this position. You will be expected to participate in inter-agency collaborations with NASA and FEMA, table-top emergency response drills, and education and public outreach (EPO). Excellent written and oral communication skills are required.


Team work is essential to the success of our group. As such, you will need to have demonstrated the ability to function effectively in a team environment with a willingness to learn new skills and be flexible in work assignments. This includes exhibiting professional conduct in interactions with co-workers and supervisors.


This position requires the ability to obtain a Q clearance, which typically requires US citizenship.


A Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences, Earth Sciences, Geophysics, Physics, Astrophysics, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics or related field is required. The candidate must be within 5 years of completion of Ph.D. at time of being proposed for review by the committee, or will have completed all Ph. D. requirements by commencement of the appointment.

Desired Qualifications:


It would be great if you had proficiency in Python, C, C++, or Fortran, machine learning, or experience with programming for novel architectures including GPUs.

Planetary Sciences

It would be a plus if you had an understanding or experience with meteoritics, the mechanical behavior of geologic materials under shock loading, or atmospheric sciences.

Location: This position will be located in Los Alamos, NM.
COVID Vaccine:

The COVID vaccine is mandatory for all Laboratory employees, on-site contractors, and on-site subcontractors unless granted an accommodation under applicable state or federal law. This requirement will apply to those working on-site, those teleworking, and all new hires.

Note to Applicants:

Applicants should submit a CV/resume and comprehensive cover letter addressing their qualifications and how those qualifications meet the job requirements. Regular post-doctoral appointments are for two years and are renewable for a third year. Outstanding candidates (with approximately 15 - 20 articles in reputable, peer-reviewed journals) may be eligible for a LANL Director's Fellowship.
Where You Will Work

Located in beautiful northern New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security. Our generous benefits package includes:

§ PPO or High Deductible medical insurance with the same large nationwide network

§ Dental and vision insurance

§ Free basic life and disability insurance

§ Paid childbirth and parental leave

§ Award-winning 401(k) (6% matching plus 3.5% annually)

§ Learning opportunities and tuition assistance

§ Flexible schedules and time off (paid sick, vacation, and holidays)

§ Onsite gyms and wellness programs

§ Extensive relocation packages (outside a 50 mile radius)
Additional Details

Directive 206.2 - Employment with Triad requires a favorable decision by NNSA indicating employee is suitable under NNSA Supplemental Directive 206.2. Please note that this requirement applies only to citizens of the United States. Foreign nationals are subject to a similar requirement under DOE Order 142.3A.

Q Clearance: Applicants selected will be subject to a Federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements* for access to classified matter. This position requires a Q clearance which requires US Citizenship except in extremely rare circumstances. Dependent upon position, additional authorization to access nuclear weapons information may be required that may or may not be available to dual citizens depending upon the circumstances.

*Eligibility requirements: To obtain a clearance, an individual must be at least 18 years of age; U.S. citizenship is required except in very limited circumstances. See DOE Order 472.2 for additional information.

New-Employment Drug Test: The Laboratory requires successful applicants to complete a new-employment drug test and maintains a substance abuse policy that includes random drug testing.

Equal Opportunity: Los Alamos National Laboratory is an equal opportunity employer and supports a diverse and inclusive workforce. All employment practices are based on qualification and merit, without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or preference, marital status or spousal affiliation, physical or mental disability, medical conditions, pregnancy, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or citizenship within the limits imposed by federal laws and regulations. The Laboratory is also committed to making our workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations, upon request, for individuals to participate in the application and hiring process. To request such an accommodation, please send an email to or call 1-505-665-4444 option 1.Employment Status