Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Postdoctoral Researcher in Novel Materials for Spacesuits and Spacecraft

The MAE Department invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral researcher to work on a NASA-funded project, “New Materials and Applications for Improved Crew Safety during Human Exploration of Distant Surfaces”. This is part of a larger project, in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, titled “REVEALS: Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces”. This research includes the following tasks:

Task 1: Development of Polymer-Graphene Nanocomposites as Lightweight Materials for Spacesuits;

Task 2: Development of Polymer-Graphene Nanocomposites and Regolith Grains as Shielding Material;

Task 3: Development of New Materials for Portable Real-Time Radiation Dosimetry;

Task 4: Integration of New Materials and Active Dosimetry for EVA and Surface Exploration Concepts

The successful applicant will join a UC Davis research team led by Profs. Valeria La Saponara and Stephen Robinson. The UC Davis will receive candidate materials for radiation protection and detection that have been developed under Tasks 1-3 by the Georgia Tech-led element of the REVEALS project. At UC Davis, Task 4 will be executed by characterizing these candidate materials for mechanical and radiation-transmission/ scattering properties, and evaluated for practical application to spacesuits, distant-surface mobility vehicles, and in-space human habitats.

The postdoctoral researcher will spend most of the first year travelling to 3 to 4 universities and NASA laboratories (2-3 months at each site) to gain expertise in the physics, engineering, and human health risks of space radiation beyond Low Earth Orbit, and in the chemistry and materials science aspects of the fabrication of novel materials. The second year will be spent at UC Davis applying this knowledge in the testing and application of novel materials for reducing radiation risks to humans in deep space.

As a member of a team of graduate student researchers, undergraduates, and staff members, the postdoctoral researcher will be assigned organizational, mentoring, communication, and reporting responsibilities within the project. The position is funded for two years, with a possibility for continuing support pending future funding success.


  • Must have a Ph.D. (or Ph.D. defense scheduled in very near future) in Mechanical, Materials, or Aerospace Engineering, and a Bachelor’s degree in Physics or a closely related field.
  • Experience with radiation issues, materials characterization, spacecraft design, or human spaceflight is desirable, but not required.
  • Must have a strong interest in supporting human spaceflight research.
  • Must have excellent English speaking and writing skills (including presentation skills).
  • Must be comfortable adapting to working with new teams from diverse cultural backgrounds, work environments, various disciplines, and with different levels of expertise.
  • Must be able to travel frequently to different universities and NASA laboratories during the first year of the project. Travel expenses will be covered by the grant.
  • U.S. citizenship is required given the nature of the funding.

How To Apply:

  • Email application materials to by October 1, 2018 for full consideration. The position will be open until filled. A start date of December 1, 2018 is preferred.
  • Required application materials include curriculum vitae, statement of research interest, and names and contact information of three professional references.
  • Email application materials as attachments.

For inquiries, please contact Prof. Valeria La Saponara at

UC Davis is an affirmative action/equal employment opportunity employer and is dedicated to recruiting a diverse faculty community. UC Davis welcomes all qualified applicants to apply, including women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. UC Davis is a smoke- and tobacco-free campus effective January 1, 2014. Smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products, and the use of unregulated nicotine products (e-cigarettes) will be strictly prohibited on any UC Davis owned or leased property, indoors and outdoors, including parking lots and residential space.