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Research Associate in mathematical modelling of radiation transport

Job title Research Associate in mathematical modelling of radiation transport

Department Mathematical Sciences

Salary Starting from £35,333, rising to £42,155

Grade Grade 7

SOC Code - Visa Requirements 2119

Placed on Wednesday 14 September 2022

Closing date Wednesday 12 October 2022

Interview date To be confirmed

Reference CC9825

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We are looking for several adventurous and talented researchers to fill a number of postdoctoral positions as part of the recently awarded £7.3M EPSRC programme grant, MaThRad (Mathematical Theory of Radiation Transport).

This five-year interdisciplinary programme of research will use modern mathematical methods from probability theory, advanced Monte Carlo methods and inverse problems to develop novel approaches to the theory and application of radiation transport. 

About the role:

Nuclear technology is, by definition, based around the principle of how radiation particles interact with materials. Whilst the microscopic behaviour of such systems is well understood, the degree of inhomogeneity involved means that the ability to predict the flux of particles through complex physical environments on the macroscopic (human) scale is a significant challenge. This lies at the heart of how we design, regulate and operate some of the most important technologies for the twenty-first century. These include 

  • building new reactors (fission and fusion) and de-commissioning old ones, 
  • medical radiation therapy
  • establishing novel space technologies through e.g. the development of space-bound mini-reactors for off-world bases and protection for high-tech equipment exposed to high-energy radiation such as satellites and spacesuits. 

Accurate prediction of how radiation interacts with surrounding matter is based on modelling through the Boltzmann transport equation. 

MaThRad will pursue an interactive exploration of foundational, translational and application-driven research; developing predictive mathematical models with quantifiable accuracy and software prototypes, ready for real-world implementation in the energy, health care and space exploration nuclear industries. This programme grant presents a unique opportunity for up to 10 adventurous postdoctoral researchers, breaking scientific and mathematical boundaries.

Each postdoctoral position will last for three years and will be formally employed either at the University of Bath or the University of Cambridge, depending on research interests. Applicants may also consider applying to the University of Cambridge for where a further spectra of research descriptors are given.

Each position includes the possibility to undertake an academic or industrial placement with one of our 26 partners, and there is the possibility to extend beyond three years depending on the length of the placement. Academic partners include:

  • Advanced Statistical inference and control group, INRIA Bordeaux
  • Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, NZ
  • Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT, USA
  • Department of Engineering Physics, Tsinghua University, PR China
  • Institute of Physics and Biological Systems, EPFL, Switzerland

Participating industrial partners include:

  • Jacobs 
  • Medical physics departments at NHS trusts including UCLH
  • NASA
  • Atomic Energy Commission France (CEA)
  • EDF Energy
  • Rolls Royce
  • Cullham Center for Fusion Energy, UKAEA

You will work alongside up to 10 PhD students working on related topics at participating institutions as well as interacting with all partners through regular research workshops and two major symposia. 

About us: 

The MaThRad supervisory team are based at four principal institutions:

  • Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath
    Andreas Kyprianou, Alexander Cox and Tristan Pryer
  • Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge
    Eugene Shwageraus, Geoff Parks
  • Medical physics at University College Hospital London
    Sarah Osman, Colin Baker
  • Medical physics at the National Physical Laboratory
    Ana Lourenço

In addition, we expect significant involvement of international researcher Emma Horton (INRIA, Bordeaux), as well as Industrial lead Paul Smith (Jacobs). Applicants for MaThRad will therefore form part of a diverse community of up to 30 researchers (including PhD students) and will work interactively with all team members.

About you:

Applicants may apply to the University of Bath according to self-identified alignment with the below descriptors of research areas. Successful candidates will have experience of working in at least one of the fields below, with a relevant PhD is desirable: 

  • Mathematical applications to medical physics
  • Applied numerical analysis and inverse problems 
  • Interacting particle systems for Monte Carlo methods and rare event simulation
  • Statistical physics for transport modelling
  • Branching structures and/or stochastic modelling

Candidates with a related backgrounds willing to work in these areas should provide evidence of their versatility. Please submit a CV and a cover letter, indicating your interest to be aligned with at least one of the themes below.  

  • Radiation transport for medical applications: will introduce a suite of numerical modelling techniques that can be used for treatment planning, accurate dose calculation and optimisation for a variety of different modalities (photon, proton, neutron and heavy ion), cross-fertilising ideas from the theory of neutronics.
  • Mathematical representations of Boltzmann Transport Equation solutions: will consider rigorous formulations of a suite of BTEs, their adjoints, as well as novel model reductions and solutions in terms of Feynman-Kac type representations and underlying stochastic processes.
  • Correlation and path decomposition in spatial branching: will look at a number of exact results concerning the inherent correlation in spatial Markov/neutron branching processes with a view to understanding Monte Carlo (MC) heuristics and potential MC shortcuts.
  • Interacting Particles (IPS) in multiplying media: will build a mathematical framework to rigorously analyse the complexity of new, advanced MC methods based on the principle of interacting particle systems.
  • Monte Carlo for fixed source problems: will develop theory and MC applications for rare-event modelling and stochastic path conditionings in source-detector and related scenarios.

What we can offer you:

We are an equal opportunities employer and have an excellent international reputation with staff from over 60 different nations. We have made a positive commitment towards gender equality and intersectionality receiving a Silver Athena SWAN award

A family-friendly University with an increasingly agile workforce, we are open to flexible working arrangements. We’re also proud to be a disability confident leader and are happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments you may require. 

We offer:

  • a very generous employer contributory pension scheme;
  • generous annual leave allowance with an additional 5 discretionary days so that you can enjoy a positive work life balance;
  • an excellent reward package that recognises the talents of our diverse workforce; 
  • a wide range of personal and professional development opportunities.

Our campus is surrounded by beautiful countryside, and the City of Bath with its historic charm and social activity only a short distance away creates an excellent environment in which to work. Find out from our staff what makes the University of Bath a great place to work. Follow us @UniofBath and @UniofBathJobs on Twitter for more information.

We aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated, respected and encouraged. We truly believe that diversity of experience, perspectives, and backgrounds leads to a better environment for our employees and students, creating a learning environment and organisational culture that enhances health and wellbeing across our community. We are very proud to have recently received Ambassadors for Autism certification and are an accredited Disability Confident Leader; committed to building disability confidence and supporting disabled staff.

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Further details:

If you think you may require a visa to work in the UK you should refer to our guidance on the Skilled Worker Visa before embarking on a job application to ensure that you understand the requirements for sponsorship. You may be eligible to work in the UK via other alternative visa routes such as the Global Talent Visa or by having Settlement / ILR, please refer to our Staff Immigration webpages for further details.

Update to our application process:

We are constantly seeking to reduce the unconscious bias that enters any assessment process, with the goal of creating an inclusive and equal assessment process. To support this the personal details of all applicants will be withheld at the initial shortlisting stage.