Resources for Finding a Postdoc

General job listings

Jobs at specific places

Postdoc programs and fellowships

  • NASA Postdoc Program (NPP)

    • 1-3 years at a NASA center.
      • Usually 2 years, renewable for a third year if either you or your advisor has the funding for it (have to bring in as soft money). It's basically impossible to bring it in yourself, though, because it has to be 1.0 FTE from all one grant - which never happens. NPP program has some leftover money for 2nd & 3rd years, but you can't depend on it. So plan on just 2y.

      • Possible places: JPL, Ames, Goddard...
    • Annual application deadlines: March 1, July 1, and November 1
      • Most money allocated at the beginning of the fiscal year, so it's slightly better to apply in November.
    • Once you get it, you have to graduate in 6 months or you lose it. You can defer your start date for up to 6 months, though.
    • Can be a pathway to a civil servant hire, depending on the center (JPL has a good record of doing this, for example).
    • Pro: Comes with a lot of travel money ($10k as of 2022), good relocation reimbursement ($12k for Tucson to Goddard as of 2022)
    • Con: Can't PI your own grants (although you can be a Science PI at most places)
    • Note that decisions are not made for 90-120 days after the proposal due date, so plan that time into your last year schedule. They also "waitlist" people, i.e. they offer it to some people, and if they turn it down, go down the list and offer to the next applicants. This can cause further delays. If you are rejected, they then offer the advisor the chance to fund it on their own.
    • Previous LPL recipients include: Catherine Neish, Christopher Hamilton (current faculty), Cecilia Leung, Tracy Esman...?

  • Smithsonian Fellowships

    • Postdoctoral Earth And Planetary Sciences information page
    • Typically posted in November. The application deadline is January 15.
    • Pro: longer 4-6 year appointment (although you're expected to be bringing in your own money for the last few years)
    • Previous LPL recipients include: Maria Banks, ...?

  • Carnegie Fellowships...

  • Shoemaker Fellowship (USGS)

    • Pro: USGS pays their postdocs very well.
    • Previous LPL recipients include: Colin Dundas (finalist, did not accept)

  • NSF...

    • Due ~Oct. 10 each year
    • The NSF application takes a long time to write! Find a sponsor early (you will need a sponsorship letter stating that your mentor has read your proposal!)
    • The NSF application is a complete and total pain. Start really early, including ~an extra day to just upload the stupid thing.
    • Preparing Proposals - This site has information about preparing a NSF proposal. It answers many questions such as those related to formatting, types of grants available, etc.
    • Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), January 2018 - This site has a link to a .pdf guide to writing a NSF proposal.
    • AAPF (astronomy and astrophysics) vs. atmospheric & geospace vs.....

      • Planetary stuff has been funded by the earth sciences postdoc program before, but be warned, for reasons that are unclear, the deadline is stupidly early (usually July). Atmospheric and geospace might fund our type of stuff too. It helps in all of these cases to ping the program managers just to see if your specific idea fits within their image of the scope of their program. It's also not a bad thing to try to smush a square peg into a round hole. Being the only applicant who does X might give you a leg up.
      • Word of warning about the AAPF: the astronomy program officers feel very strongly that they should not be paying to analyze data that was acquired by NASA. The planetary work they've funded in the past has been telescope observation/modeling/lab heavy. I think they would allow spacecraft data analysis but only if it wasn't the bulk of the work.
    • Previous LPL recipients include: Sarah Hörst (AAPF), ...

  • Hubble (astronomy, origins...)

  • Sagan (exoplanets)

  • OK Earl... (doesn't require a faculty contact, but see tip below re: making one anyway)

  • Keck Institute for Space studies...

  • Chateaubriand (France)...

  • CREATE program (Canada)

    • Due mid-January each year
    • Lots of impact cratering people. Focus on field work, exploration, instrumentation & mission development as well as pure science.
    • Open to both Canadian and international students.
    • Contact at least two collaborators listed on their team page before you apply.
    • Hint: Make your project interdisciplinary and applicable to more than one of their research "themes".
    • Previous LPL recipients include: ...? (none?)
    • Other LPL connections include: Gordon "Oz" Osinski (previous LPL postdoc - or visiting scientist or something - with Jay Melosh), Livio Tornabene (previous LPL postdoc with Alfred McEwen)

  • Urey Fellowship at LPI

    • Work at LPI or with Astromaterials Group at the Johnson Space Center (ARES)
    • within 5 years of completion of the PhD
    • no firm application deadline and applications will be reviewed periodically
    • Previous LPL recipients include: ...? (none?)

  • Marie Curie Fellowship - Europe

    • Covers all sciences
    • Long application, seems to be fewer applicants, good ~30% acceptance rate
    • Have to have a faculty contact, propose project together.
    • Due ~late April
    • Previous LPL recipients include: ...? (none?)

  • SESE Exploration Fellowships - School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University

    • Complete applications are due late October (for 2014)
    • Started in 2010, no LPL awardees - yet!
  • Universities that have fellowships in planetary related departments:

    • ASU
    • Caltech
    • Washington University
    • UT Austin (UTIG and Jackson School of Geoscience)
    • MIT
    • CPS University of Toronto
    • and many more - add them as you find them!

There is also the UA Career Services:

UA career services (Is this helpful? Has anyone used it?)

For Tips on these Applications, and a suggested schedule for your last year in grad school, see the Tips for Getting a Job/Postdoc page.

Many thanks to all of the alumni, postdocs, and mentors in various positions who have helped contribute to this page!

  • Colin Dundas
  • Sarah Hörst
  • Matthew Chojnacki
  • Christopher Hamilton
  • Rachel Bezanson
  • Fan Guo
  • Emily Rauscher
  • Serina Diniega

LPL alumni are one of the best resources for finding out information like this. Many are willing to help, give advice, introduce you to people, etc. If you're considering a position and want more information about it, find an LPLer who worked there before and ask them about their experience.