NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP)
The goal of the NPP program is to provide some of the most talented new and senior Ph.D.'s with opportunities to participate in NASA mission-related activities as guests at NASA Centers, Headquarters, and other NASA-approved sites (such as JPL). It provides the opportunity for concentrated research on an annual basis, renewable up to two additional years. Currently, there are over 50 NPP fellows doing their research at JPL.
This program is managed by Universities Space Research Association (USRA). Applications for research opportunities are accepted at anytime, but are evaluated only three times a year beginning November 1, March 1, and July 1. The application process involve the advisor's recommendation as well as evaluation through an independently appointed review panel. Selections are made by JPL and are based on NASA's research priorities, quality of applications, and availability of funding. Appointments are made for one year, but are renewable up to a maximum of three years.
The NASA Postdoctoral Program also offers Senior Fellowships. More information can be found about them here.
to earth and planetary sciences
Christopher Boxe was a NPP Postdoc working with the Lab Studies and Modeling Group.
Q: What research do you conduct?
A: As an Oak Ridge Associated Universities/ NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, NASA-JPL (2006 – 2008), I was in the Lab Studies and Modeling Group in JPL's Earth and Space Science Division. I was Involved in planetary ice surface evolution, cirrus cloud chemistry and microphysics, and modular multiphase modeling, where article size determination was also used to quantify relative ages of the surfaces of icy moons. Secondly, using spectroscopic techniques, investigated the interaction of trace gases on cirrus clouds. Thirdly, along with another postdoctoral scholar, created the first multiphase model to study trace pollutant effects on air quality and snow/ice chemistry in the polar regions. As a Jet Propulsion Laboratory Postdoctoral Scholar, NASA-JPL (2008 – present), I work in the Planetary Science and Life Detection Group in JPL's Earth and Space Science Division conducting a quantitative budget analysis of nitrogen, carbon, and water on Mars, Earth, and Venus via numerical modeling techniques to gain insight into their comparative evolution. In parallel, several projects are being conducted to investigate the possible effects of heterogeneous photochemistry on the Martian atmosphere and the effect of implementing new gas phase CO2-related and HNO3-related chemical reactions; these investigations are being done by coupled 1-D gas-phase and multiphase modeling techniques.
Q: How do you think working at JPL benefited/benefiting your career?
A: Within the context of my postdoctoral matriculation at JPL, I have not only grown as a more independent researcher, but also fostered my research focus in the realm of both planetary and Earth science.
Q: Why should postdocs choose JPL?
A: The "why" here is multi-faceted. Firstly, one can participate in available data acquisition teams via remote sensing capabilities pertinent to deepening the understanding of Earth and planetary science, where young scientists learn explicitly how science goals fits into the creation and conduct of missions. Simultaneously, postdoctoral scholars can participate in modeling and laboratory projects, which inevitably contextualize data obtained from missions.