DESCRIPTION: The Astrobiology Initiative ( of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for Postdoctoral Scholars in Astrobiology, especially as it relates to exoplanet research.  We are particularly interested in candidates working on exoplanet demographic studies, population synthesis, atmospheric characterization, and detection using extreme precision radial velocity, transits, and/or direct imaging.  We are also interested in planet formation and evolution modeling, especially where theory can be mapped to demographic data and other observations (e.g. JWST). Candidates working at the nexus of earth, planetary, and astrophysical science with the aim of impacting the search for life beyond Earth are also encouraged to apply.

The successful candidates will be part of the NASA Interdisciplinary Consortium for Astrobiology Research (ICAR) team led by the University of California, Santa Cruz (PI: Natalie Batalha), including researchers at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Kansas, and NASA Ames Research Center. The program includes funding for cross-institute collaborations. The consortium aims to trace the physical and chemical pathways of volatile elements from protoplanetary disk formation, through disk evolution to planet formation, the accretion of volatiles within planets, and the formation, evolution, and loss of planetary atmospheres, establishing a scientific foundation for detecting the signatures of life on other worlds.

Postdoctoral Scholars in Astrobiology at UCSC will have the opportunity to work with faculty who are world leaders in the study of exoplanets, the origin of life, earth & planetary science, and modern instrumentation as well as humanists considering the ethics of space science and the impact of astrobiology on society.  Candidates are encouraged to describe how their research might impact these broader astrobiology goals and catalyze interdisciplinary collaborations within the team.

UCSC’s nascent Astrobiology Initiative is undertaking groundbreaking research while training diverse new generations of astrobiologists. Scholars will be immersed in a dynamic environment of growth as we build new programs and collaborations. Astrobiology is inherently interdisciplinary, demanding varied expertise. Postdoctoral Scholars will work independently but also be encouraged to collaborate in an inclusive and welcoming environment with a broad swath of faculty, postdocs, and students. Successful candidates may reside in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics or the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  The Scholars will have an opportunity to interact with visitors from around the world from the successful Other Worlds Laboratory summer program.

We seek diversity in our program. We welcome applications from candidates with traditional and eclectic career paths, candidates who have overcome significant challenges, and/or candidates who work to expand the field of astrophysics beyond its historical boundaries.

Fellows will have access to the University of California Observatories, including Lick Observatory, which has the Shane 3m and 2.4m Automated Planet Finder (APF) telescopes, as well as Keck Observatory through Faculty PIs.  Funding is available for travel, conferences and publications.  Relocation expenses up to $3000 will be covered.  These positions will be located on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Time can be divided between on-site and remote work.

ACADEMIC TITLE: Postdoctoral Scholar

SALARY:  The program offers competitive stipends commensurate with qualifications and experiences. Minimum annual salary rates are made based on the individual’s experience level, which is determined by the number of months of postdoctoral service at any institution. 

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS: Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Planetary Sciences, Geosciences, or a related field.  Ph.D. must be in hand at time of the initial appointment.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Upon selection, preferably no later than September 1, 2023.

MAXIMUM DURATION OF SERVICE IN A POSTDOCTORAL TITLE: Postdoctoral Scholar appointments are full-time; the initial appointment is for one year, with the possibility of reappointment for a total of three years. Reappointment will be contingent upon positive performance review and availability of funding. 

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: All documents and materials must be submitted as a single PDF and should be forwarded to Natalie Batalha (, the Director of the UCSC Astrobiology Initiative. Applications must include a curriculum vitae with list of publications, and a research statement that includes a brief summary of relevant experience in addition to future research interests. Please have three or more recommendation letters emailed to the same address by the same application deadline.  We appreciate reference to “Astrobiology Postdoc” in the subject line of all correspondence.


CV (Not to exceed two pages, excluding list of publications which as no limit):

  • Contact Information: don’t forget your email address, mailing address, and phone number
  • Education: include undergraduate institution and major; graduate institution, thesis title, and, if not yet awarded, the month and year it is expected
  • Employment History (if appropriate)
  • Grants, Fellowships, and/or Telescope Time Awarded (if appropriate)
  • List of Publications and Products (Separate under “refereed”, “conference proceedings/abstracts”, and “software” categories. For multi-author refereed papers, include one-line summary of applicant’s contributions.  Limit “conference proceedings/abstracts” to about five highest-impact contributions
  • Seminars & Conference Presentations (Limit to about five highest-visibility talks)
  • Awards (if appropriate; i.e., society or institutional prizes and achievement awards)
  • Education & Outreach Experience (Include teaching and mentoring experience, outreach activities, and other services to the profession)
  • Activities related to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion

Research Statement Please keep the statement brief. For your convenience, we place no stringent requirements on length and format so that materials from job searches can be used broadly and with minimal edits. Aim for three pages if possible, touching upon the following topics:

  • Description of one or two completed/published studies that are most relevant to advertised position and highlight impact, creativity, innovation, and/or persistence
  • Description of the future research you wish to perform that is directly relevant to advertised position
  • Mention of the primary faculty that you’d like to collaborate with and how you’d benefit from the resources and program available at UCSC

Three letters of recommendation: As described above, these should be forwarded to the same address by the same deadline.  Ask your letter writers to specify who the letter is for in the body of their email.  You may include the names and contacts of your letter writers in your CV.  This could be useful if we are missing materials.

RECRUITMENT PERIOD: Full consideration will be given to applications completed by February 10, 2023. Applications received after this date will be considered only if the position has not been filled. 

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. UC Santa Cruz is committed to excellence through diversity and strives to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students and employees. Inquiries regarding the University’s equal employment opportunity policies may be directed to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 or by phone at (831) 459-2686. Under Federal law, the University of California may employ only individuals who are legally able to work in the United States as established by providing documents as specified in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Certain UCSC positions funded by federal contracts or sub-contracts require the selected candidate to pass an E-Verify check (see More information is available at the APO website (see or call (831) 459-4300. UCSC is a smoke & tobacco-free campus.  If you need accommodation due to a disability, please contact the Academic Personnel Office at (831) 459-4300 or visit