The Cosmology group at Rice University is seeking a postdoctoral researcher as part of the Windchime project to gravitationally detect dark matter using advances in quantum physics. The successful candidate is responsible for the phenomenological studies of the Windchime detector for its sensitivity to various dark matter models.
The Cosmology group at Rice University consists of three faculty: Prof Andrew Long is a astroparticle theorist who is an expert in heavy dark matter models. Prof Christopher Tunnell is a computational physicist who leads the experimental efforts, such as the XENON and DARWIN groups at Rice, while also having projects exploring the interface between physics, data analysis, and machine learning. Prof Mustafa Amin is an early Universe theorist specializing in axions and solitons. The successful candidate will be supervised by the three faculty according to the particular project. Formally, the position is located in the Astroparticle group of Prof. Tunnell (http://astroparticle.rice.edu), where the diversity of the group is viewed as a strength.
The Windchime Collaboration consists of Rice University, Purdue University, Fermilab, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NIST, and the University of Maryland. As part of the Windchime Collaboration, we have identified an opportunity for using quantum optomechanical sensors to test various dark matter models, such as Planck scale [arXiv:1903.00492] or sub-meV [arXiv:1908.04797]. More information is available as part of a recent workshop [https://indico.fnal.gov/event/21499/]. For heavy dark matter, the central idea is that dark matter would produce a detectable impulse in a 3D matrix of accelerometers. This can be used to probe a host of candidate models, including WIMPzillas, asymmetric dark nuggets, dark quark nuggets, and dark blobs. For ultralight dark matter, we search for coherent excitations in the array.
We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work with both Prof Tunnell and Prof Long to perform phenomenological studies of which dark matter models the proposed experimental setup is sensitive to, while also optimizing the detector design based on experimental inputs and improvements to data analysis. This consists of understanding and modeling advancements from our funded experimental colleagues such that we can optimize the physics sensitivity. Additionally, there are many opportunities to refine the detector models and determine how one would analyze such a novel detector, for example by applying new advancements in machine learning related to track finding in these sensor arrays.
Rice University is a private research university located in Houston that is a leader in material science, where it ranked 1st in the Times Higher Education rankings for material science in 2010. Additionally, a Welch Institute for Advanced Materials is coming to Rice, which is modeled off of the Salk Institute or Broad Institute.
PhD or equivalent doctorate
Physics or astronomy or closely related field
No experience required
- Mathematical skills to be able to understand dark matter models - Computational skills to be able to parameterize detector models - Ability to understand, process and use scientific literature in physics - Ability to write scientific papers and give oral research presentations - Excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as oral presentation skills - Organization and time management skills
As defined under the Texas Education Code and Rice Policy No. 425, this position is security sensitive and employment in this position is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check.Internal: Contact with faculty, staff, and studentsExternal: Contact with collaborating institutions
Requires working in front of a computer for extended periods of time (up to eight hours per day).
- The applicant is expected to be based at Rice University in Houston, Texas - Travel to collaborators and international meetings - Remote working or partial remote situations will be considered
Position is not considered essential during a campus emergency.
Serves as a representative of the University, displaying courtesy, tact, consideration and discretion in all interactions with other members of the Rice community and with the public.
- On phenomenology, performs sensitivity projections of Windchime to heavy (and ultralight) dark matter models by interfacing with both experimentalists and theorists - Optimizes experimental design to new physics models by studying such designs using and improving our detector parameterization codes - Studies how one would analyze arrays of optomechanical sensors, such as by translating machine learning literature (graph neural networks) from track finding at the LHC - Helps mentor graduates and undergraduates students in the group working on Windchime, and be a good citizen within the Astroparticle group - Provides academic services (i.e., teaches a class) to the department as required - Performs any other assigned duties as needed for the research program
Please include the names of 2 references under the References/Recommendation Request document. In the Cover Letter, please explain how you might fit into this role.
Rice University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with commitment to diversity at all levels, and considers for employment qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.
Rice University Standard of Civility Serves as a representative of the University, displaying courtesy, tact, consideration and discretion in all interactions with other members of the Rice community and with the public.
Internal Number: 87121
About Rice University
As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contributions to the betterment of our world. It seeks to fulfill this mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor.