PhD position in Space Physics University of Bergen, Department of Physics and Technology Norway

The University of Bergen (UiB) is an internationally recognised research university with more than 14,000 students and close to 3,500 employees at six faculties. The university is located in the heart of Bergen. Our main contribution to society is excellent basic research and education across a wide range of disciplines.


PhD position in Space Physics

There is a vacancy for a PhD position at the Department of Physics and Technology within Space Physics. The position is for a fixed-term period of four years and will be part of the Birkeland Centre for Space Science (BCSS) .


About the project/work tasks:

Magnetic reconnection is often recognized to be the most important plasma transport and energy conversion process in space physical plasmas. Magnetic reconnection is a likely contributor to solar eruptions, to coronal heating, and it facilitates the entry of solar wind plasma and electromagnetic energy into near-Earth space, the magnetosphere. In the magnetosphere proper magnetic reconnection converts stored magnetic energy to plasma internal and kinetic energy. It is also believed to play a role in the formation of the auroral acceleration region, as well as to be the mechanism ultimately powering the aurora. Therefore, magnetic reconnection constitutes a fundamental and ubiquitous element of the Sun-Earth connected system.


Magnetic reconnection relies on the presence of a diffusion region, where collisionless or collisional plasma processes facilitate the changes in magnetic connection through the generation of dissipative electric fields. This diffusion region is strongly localized, extending at most to the width of an ion orbit about the magnetic field (ion Larmor radius). Typical indirect reconnection signatures (contrasted with direct observations of the diffusion region) include the presence of fast flows and plasma heating associated with magnetic field signatures indicative of the establishment of new magnetic connections. Such indirect signatures are observed remotely in the solar corona, in the solar wind by the magnetic topology of solar ejecta, and by direct spacecraft observations in near-Earth space.


The project focuses on the kinetic physics of magnetic reconnection in space. The aim is to understand the physical basis of how magnetic reconnection operates, including the structure and dynamics of the diffusion region and the overall energy conversion process. The project involves a combination of theory, numerical modelling, and comparisons to modern spacecraft measurements.


The Theory and Modeling group at the Birkeland Centre for Space Science is engaged in forefront research of the magnetic reconnection process. Research methodologies range from analytic theory to particle-in-cell simulations and the analysis of spacecraft observations. The group is involved in a major way in NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale missions, which provides empirical evidence to test theories, as well as inspiration for the development of new reconnection models. The position will be located within this group.


Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • Applicants must hold a master's degree or the equivalent in physics or applied mathematics or must be able to document submission of his/her master's thesis for assessment prior to the application deadline. It is a condition of employment that the master's degree has been awarded.
  • The applicant must have good understanding of basic electromagnetic physics, and of the basic interactions of particles with electromagnetic fields
  • Education in space physics, and/or advanced mathematics and/or plasma physics, and programming or numerical modeling experience are advantageous
  • Applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured manner, and demonstrate good collaborative skills.
  • Applicants must be proficient in both written and oral English.

Personal and relational qualities will be emphasized. Ambitions and potential will also count when evaluating the candidates.


About the PhD position

The duration of the PhD position is 4 years, of which 25 per cent of the time each year comprises required duties associated with research, teaching and dissemination of results.

The employment period may be reduced if you have previously been employed in a PhD position.


About the research training

As a PhD candidate, you must participate in an approved educational programme for a PhD degree within a period of 3 years. A final plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty within three months after you have commenced in the position. It is a condition that you satisfy the enrolment requirements for the PhD programme at the University of Bergen.


We can offer:

  • a good and professionally challenging working environment
  • salary at pay grade 50 (Code 1017/Pay range 20, alternative 8) in the state salary scale. This constitutes a gross annual salary of NOK 436 900. Further promotions are made according to length of service in the position.
  • enrolment in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • a position in an inclusive workplace (IA enterprise)
  • good welfare benefits 

Your application must include:

  • a brief account of the applicant's research interests and motivation for applying for the position
  • the names and contact information for two referees. One of these should be the main advisor for the master's thesis or equivalent thesis
  • CV
  • transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor's and master's degrees, or official confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • relevant certificates/references
  • a list of any publications of a scientific nature

The application and appendices with certified translations into English must be uploaded at Jobbnorge.


General information

For further details about the position, please contact:

Prof. Michael Hesse, phone: +47-55 58 46 58, email:


The state labour force shall reflect the diversity of Norwegian society to the greatest extent possible. Age and gender balance among employees is therefore a goal. It is also a goal to recruit people with immigrant backgrounds. People with immigrant backgrounds and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the position.


We encourage women to apply. If multiple applicants have approximately equivalent qualifications, the rules pertaining to moderate gender quotas shall apply.


The University of Bergen applies the principle of public access to information when recruiting staff for academic positions.


Information about applicants may be made public even if the applicant has asked not to be named on the list of persons who have applied. The applicant must be notified if the request to be omitted is not met.


Further information about the employment process can be found here.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Physicaloxy


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