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Assistant Professor of Planetary Science

Apply now Work type: TT Faculty
Location: Bellingham, WA
Categories: College of Science & Engineering

Position Title

Assistant Professor of Planetary Science

About the University

WWU is a public university with over 15,000 students. In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education named WWU as one of the “Great Colleges to Work For.” WWU is one of 24 institutions in the US to receive funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Program, which supports the Advancing Excellence and Equity in Science program in the College of Science and Engineering.

About the Departments

The Department of Physics & Astronomy has 14 full-time faculty and about 100 undergraduate physics majors.  The Geology Department has 14 faculty, 160 undergraduates and 30 graduate students. B.S. degrees in Geophysics, Physics, and Geology as well as a Math/Physics B.A.Ed. degree are offered. The Geology department has a Master’s program, offering an M.S. degree in Geology. Both departments place strong emphasis on performing innovative research including meaningful research opportunities for its students. Members of the departments are also active in the development of new educational materials and innovative teaching methods.

Both departments support Western’s mission to bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities. We encourage applications from candidates from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in this faculty position.

The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) consists of seven departments, the Advanced Materials and Engineering Center (AMSEC) as well as the Science Math and Technology Education (SMATE) group.

Detailed information is available for the Department of Physics & Astronomy at, for the Geology Department at, and for CSE at

About the Position

The Department of Physics/Astronomy and Department of Geology at Western Washington University (WWU) invite applications for a tenure track Assistant Professor of Planetary Science. This position has an expected start date of September 2019, and will be split evenly between the two departments, with Physics as the administrative lead department for purposes of annual review, tenure and promotion. Teaching assignments will be focused in Geophysics, a program shared between the departments.

We seek applicants whose research and teaching examines the role of physical processes in planet formation and evolution, planetary interiors, surfaces, atmospheres and/or magnetospheres, small bodies, solar system dynamics, or related topics. The preferred candidate will be expected to develop and maintain a vigorous research program that complements existing strengths in remote sensing, planetary geology, seismology, magnetism, and tectonics, to engage students in this research, and to teach undergraduate courses at all levels, using student-centered instructional approaches when appropriate.

The departments and the College of Science and Engineering support Western’s mission to bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities. We encourage applications from candidates with diverse experiences and from underrepresented backgrounds, including (but not limited to) women, people of color, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Position description:

 The successful candidate will teach lower and upper division undergraduate physics courses as well as undergraduate and graduate level courses in geology and/or geophysics.  The successful candidate will also develop and maintain a research program involving undergraduate students and will seek extramural funding in support of research. Contributions to the Graduate program are welcome but not required. Service commitments include student advising and participation on committees and in activities in both departments. The active use of equitable, inclusive teaching and mentoring practices, that extend opportunities to all students, is essential.

Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in geophysics, physics, geology, astronomy or closely related field by the time of appointment
  • Commitment to establishing a vigorous research program in planetary science involving undergraduate students
  • Ability to establish an externally-supported research program
  • Potential for effective classroom teaching in introductory physics, and upper division physics and geophysics
  • Demonstrated ability and commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

Preferred Qualifications

  • Post-doctoral research (or equivalent) experience in planetary science
  • Ability and interest to collaborate with existing research areas in the departments and/or college
  • Experience teaching undergraduate STEM courses
  • Demonstrated experience using and developing student-centered teaching methods
  • Potential for mentoring students in graduate research as part of the geology M.S. program


 Commensurate with experience and qualifications

Bargaining Unit

 United Faculty of Western Washington

Application Instructions

Applications must include (1) a detailed cover letter describing the applicant's background and addressing the required and preferred qualifications, (2) a statement of philosophy and interest in teaching, (3) a statement outlining proposed research plans, specifically addressing plans for student involvement in both departments, (4) a statement detailing how your teaching, service and/or scholarship has prepared you to support the success of students with backgrounds or identities that are underrepresented in STEM fields, (5) unofficial transcripts of undergraduate and graduate course work, and (6) a full curriculum vitae including the names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references.  Do not send letters of recommendation; they will be requested only for semi-finalists. 

Application materials must be uploaded as two pdf files: (1) CV and (2) cover letter, statements, and transcripts.

Inquiries may be addressed to the search committee chair, Dr. Melissa Rice, at or (360) 650-3592.


Closing Date Notes

Review of applications will begin on November 30, 2018 and the position will remain open until filled.

Western Washington University (WWU) is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, WWU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. See WWU’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation. Inquiries may be directed to the Vice Provost for Equal Opportunity and Employment Diversity, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Equal Opportunity Office, Western Washington University, Old Main 345 (MS 9021), 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360.650.3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay);

WWU is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request an accommodation, please contact Human Resources Disability Services, 360.650.3774 or 711 (Washington Relay).

Annual Security and Fire Safety Report: This report is provided pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act ("The Clery Act").  It includes statistics for the previous three calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Western's campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Western; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from, the campus.  The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning alcohol and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters.  You can obtain a copy of this report in printed or alternate formats by contacting the office of the Vice President for enrollment and Student Services.  The report can be found at

All new employees must comply with the immunization policy and show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service before beginning work at WWU. A thorough background check will be conducted on all new hires.

Job no: 496058
Advertised: Pacific Daylight Time
Applications close:

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