Above: Peridotite xenolith from Takashima island, Japan. These rocks are fragments of the mantle carried to Earth's surface by volcanoes.


Open Positions

Postdoctoral Researcher starting in 2019

The Origins Laboratory of the Department of the Geophysical Sciences and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago seeks applicants for a postdoctoral researcher position in isotope geochemistry-cosmochemistry. Although different backgrounds will be considered, experience in clean laboratory procedures and multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) techniques is especially desirable. The broad themes that are being developed are (i) mass-dependent isotope variations for tracing geo-bio cycles, igneous, and cosmochemical processes, (ii) stable isotope anomalies for characterizing the heterogeneity of the nebula, identifying new presolar phases, and understanding the genetic relationships between planetary bodies, and (iii) radiogenic isotopes for chronological purposes. Completion of the Ph.D. is required. Initial appointment is for one year, renewable up to 2 times contingent upon good progress. Applications must be received by February 10, 2019; applications received after this date may be considered if the position is not filled.

A resume and the names of three references should be sent to Nicolas Dauphas (dauphas@uchicago.edu). The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.   

PhD starting in Fall 2020

Scientists in the The Origins Lab are engaged in trying to resolve first order problems in Earth and Planetary sciences. A common thread of many of our studies is that they ask fundamental questions about our origins and the underlying mechanisms that control natural phenomena. For that purpose, we use a broad array of analytical techniques, ranging from mass spectrometry to nuclear inelastic scattering. The measurements that we make are always put in a solid theoretical context, as some of our work involves modeling, and geochemistry/cosmochemistry is a science that draws from the fundamentals of physics and chemistry. PhD opportunities in geochemistry and cosmochemistry are available for Fall 2019 covering a wide variety of topics. 

1. Non-traditional stable isotopic geochemistry with applications in low and high-temperature systems. We presently have the expertise to measure the isotopic compositions of Fe, U, Ni, Ti, Zr, Hf, and the REEs but can develop new methodologies if the need arises

2. Synchrotron Nuclear Resonant Inelastic X-ray scattering (NRIXS) with applications to Fe, Eu, and Dy isotopic geochemistry and cosmochemistry to understand what controls the stable isotopic variations that we measure.

3. Ab initio calculations of reduced partition function ratios, to understand what governs stable isotopic variations in nature.

4. Nature and maturation of the continents. Specifically, we use detrital and chemical sediments to unravel the history of continental crust growth and evolution. Most recently, we used Ti isotopes to establish that all the way back to 3.5 Ga, continents were predominantly felsic.

5. Isotopic anomalies, to find new types of presolar grains, to understand how products of stellar nucleosynthesis were mixed and homogenized in the early solar system, and to establish the growth history of the planets.

6. Ocean biogeochemistry through time. We focus on the Precambrian but also touch on the modern. We primarily use chemical sediments, and seek to understand under what conditions these were deposited, in order to learn about the conditions at Earth’s surface through time.

7. Tracing the origin of volatile elements. We use the abundances of volatile elements ranging from noble gases to alkali metals to understand how the terrestrial planets acquired their inventories of volatile elements.

8. Isotopic effects of space exposure at asteroidal and lunar surfaces. We are developing new methodologies to better trace the exposure history of asteroids and the Moon to cosmic rays to better understand the history of their regolith, in preparation for the sample return missions OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2.

9. Kinetics of igneous processes using diffusion-driven kinetic isotopic fractionation.

This list is not exhaustive and more often than not, studies grow and expand outside of these boundaries. We are primarily driven by curiosity and students often start with a topic but shape their thesis work to fulfill their scientific interests. 

Chicago is a vibrant city spread along scenic Lake Michigan with numerous recreational, cultural, and sporting activities. The University of Chicago is a premier research and teaching institution (ranked #10 in the 2018 Shanghai academic ranking of world universities) that has a long tradition of training outstanding scientists (89 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the University of Chicago). Former alumni of the lab are now faculty in some of the top universities and research institutions around the world, including USTC (China), Paris University (France), University of Washington, University of Miami, University of Santa Cruz, Caltech (USA), and Cardiff University (UK). To apply online please visit https://apply-psd.uchicago.edu/apply/. For questions, please email Nicolas Dauphas at dauphas@uchicago.edu.

Summer internships

Summer internships opportunities exist for motivated undergraduates willing to take on the challenge of two-three months project in geochemistry and cosmochemistry.

Contact: dauphas@uchicago.edu