Graduate Students

The Reaction Dynamics Group, Department of Chemistry & W.M. Keck Research Laboratory in Astrochemistry, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, invites applications for graduate students. The prime directive of our research program is to unravel the underlying mechanisms on how complex, often carbon-bearing molecules and nanostructures are synthesized from the bottom up via single atoms, radicals, and small molecules in extreme environments. These are combustion flames, rocket propulsion systems, in the interstellar medium, atmospheres of planets and their satellites, cometary comae, and chemical vapor deposition processes. The experiments involve reactive scattering studies and employ a novel crossed beams machine (gas phase chemistry) and gas-surface scattering setups (interaction of extraterrestrial ices, carbonaceous surfaces, and minerals with charged particles, UV/VUV photons, and atoms); theoretical studies engage modern electronic structure calculation to untangle the energetics, dynamics, molecular structures, and the elementary mechanisms in the gas phase and in the solid state. A description of our current research group can be found at Currently positions are open in the following research areas:

1.   Energetic Materials

2.   Metal-Based Jet Fuel Additives

3.   Reaction Dynamics involved in the Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

4.   Synthesis of Complex Organic Molecules in Extraterrestrial Ices

5.   Extraterrestrial Phosphorus Chemistry

6.   Formation of Water on the Lunar Surface.

In collaboration with several research groups from the Hawaiian Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) and the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) cutting edge research projects will be linked to lecture courses outlining fundamental principles in physical chemistry, physics, reaction dynamics, astrochemistry, astrobiology, planetary chemistry, combustion sciences, and nanomaterial research. Students are required to accumulate 6 credits in seminars and 18 credits in graduate courses. Requirements are reduced for those students holding a master degree or equivalent. An interdisciplinary seminar series is an integral part of this graduate program. Speakers involve participating graduate students, local faculty members, and external guest lecturers, which are internationally recognized experts in the fields of reaction dynamics, astrophysics, astrobiology, planetary sciences, and combustion chemistry. During the summer, paid internships are available as well.

Application Information

Interested candidates should send the application material via our dedicated submission webpage [].Specific questions can be emailed to Prof. Ralf I. Kaiser, Department of Chemistry, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2545 The Mall, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (email: Depending on the qualification, candidates are offered teaching (TA) or research assistantships (RA) and full tuition fee waivers.