Postdoctoral Research Scholar (JOB# 12520)
Arizona State University
Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science
The Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science (http://beyond.asu.edu) at Arizona State University invites applications for up to two postdoctoral research scholars to work on the theory of life’s origins, with emphasis on the deep conceptual foundations. These full-time, benefits-eligible positions are renewable on an annual basis (July 1 – June 30), contingent upon satisfactory performance, availability of resources, and the needs of the university. Applicants must be within five years of receipt of their Ph.D. to be considered for initial appointment and for subsequent annual renewal.
Ideal candidates will be able to apply theory directly to experimental data, and be adventurous enough to develop radically new ideas. A background in physics or computer science is preferred, but promising candidates across all disciplinary backgrounds will be considered. The candidate will work under the direction of Prof. Sara Walker (see emergence.asu.edu for more details of the research program) and will also interact with other faculty in the Beyond Center including Paul Davies, and faculty in the Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, a collaboration between Arizona State University and the Santa Fe Institute.
Minimum Qualifications: PhD in a related field by the time of appointment.
Desired Qualifications: background in physics or computer science.
Applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and a statement of research interests in pdf format to Jeanette Perez at email@example.com. They should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent to the same address. Initial review of complete applications will begin on September 30, 2018 is preferred, if not filled, every week thereafter until the search is closed. Further enquiries should be emailed directly to Sara Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paul Davies (email@example.com).
A background check is required for employment. Arizona State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to excellence through diversity. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Arizona State University is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor and an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.
What do you get when you cross an asteroid and a comet? A centaur! Centaurs don’t have a formal definition, but as a class of planetary bodies, they tend to orbit between 5-30 AU and often fit this description. Centaurs are also the only major class of planetary body which humanity has never sent a spacecraft to. Last summer, Harrison Smith, eLIFE grad student, was a part of a team of scientists and engineers at JPL that created a mission concept to visit one of these unexplored objects. A paper by the team detailing this mission concept was recently accepted to the journal Planetary and Space Science, and can be viewed by clicking this link.
Can physics explain the evolution of consciousness, intelligence & free will? Sara Walker & Chiara Marletto are using constructor theory to explain the emergence of sophisticated observers, in a project funded by the Foundational Questions in Science Institute. Read more here.
Postdocs Doug Moore, Gabriele Valentini and graduate student Hikaru Furukawa are headed to Tokyo for ALIFE 2018, the 2018 conference on artificial life. Here's the full list of presentations:
Douglas Moore, Michael Levin & Sara Walker 'Pattern Generation in Coupled Networks' - read about it here.
Gabriele Valentini, Douglas Moore, Jake Hanson, Ted Pavlic, Stephen Pratt & Sara Walker 'Transfer of Information in Collective Decisions by Artificial Agents' - read about it here.
Hikaru Furukawa & Sara Walker 'Major Transitions in Planetary Evolution' - read about it here.
Sara Walker is featured in an article on Space.com highlighting the role of theoretical physics in helping discover alien life.
"When I think about looking for life, I'm not really thinking about looking for cells on a planet or molecules in an atmosphere. I think about looking for an entirely new sector of physics," Sara Walker, an astrobiologist and theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, said during a panel discussion at the World Science Festival in New York City.
Read more here.
Papers including Emergence@ASU authors:
S.I. Walker, W. Bains, L. Cronin, S. DasSarma, S. Danielache, S. Domagal-Goldman, B. Kacar, N.Y. Kiang, A. Lenardic, C.T. Reinhard, W. Moore, E. Schwieterman, E. Shkolnik and H.B. Smith* (2018) Exoplanet biosignatures: future directions. Astrobiology, 18(6), pp.779-824. https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2017.1738
N.Y. Kiang, S. Domagal-Goldman, D.C. Catling, Y. Fuji, V.S. Meadows, E. Schwieterman and S.I. Walker (2018) Exoplanet Biosignatures: At the Dawn of a New Era of Planetary Observations. Astrobiology 18(6) 619-629 http://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2018.1862
E.W. Schwieterman, N.Y. Kiang, M.N. Parenteau, C.E. Harman, S. DasSarma , T.M. Fisher*, G.N. Arney, H.E. Hartnett, C.T. Reinhard, S.L. Olson, V.S. Meadows, C.S. Cockell, S.I. Walker, J.L. Grenfell, S. Hegde, S. Rugheimer, R. Hu, and T. W. Lyons (2018) Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Review of Remotely Detectable Signs of Life. Astrobiology 18(6): 663 - 708 http://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2017.1729
A new, seven part animated series explores the lasting impact of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Episode two explores the topic "What is life?" and features our own Sara Walker! The episode is below, other episodes in the series are available here.
Video of the World Science Festival panel "Who is Out There: Why Alien 'Life' may be Weirder than we Imagine" is now available! The panel features Sara Walker, along with astronaut Nicole Stott, astronomer Lisa Katlenegger, astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, and philosopher Susan Schneider. Check it out at the link below!
Sara Imari Walker