Advert. No. 2017_0043
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..



ESO Fellowship Programme Europe 2017/2018


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Deadline 15/10/2017

ESO Fellowship Programme 2017/2018 - Fast track your scientific career at Europe's leading astronomy organisation

Each year, several outstanding early-career scientists have the opportunity to further develop their independent research programmes at the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere. The top caliber and highly dynamic scientific environment support ESO Fellows in steering their career by gaining new skills, unique insights and valuable experience.

ESO's approximately 110 staff astronomers, 40 fellows and 40 PhD students conduct front-line research in fields ranging from exoplanets to cosmology. Observational, theoretical and fundamental astrophysics are all areas where fellows can benefit from one of the most vibrant and stimulating scientific settings anywhere in the world.

Fellowships are available both at ESO's Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, and at ESO's astronomy centre in Santiago, Chile.

ESO Headquarters is situated in one of the most active research centres in Europe, boasting one of the highest concentrations of astronomers. High caliber scientists, instrument experts, and other professionals within easy reach provide fellows with valuable opportunities for starting collaborations and learning new skills. ESO's offices are adjacent to the Max Planck Institutes for Astrophysics and for Extraterrestrial Physics and close to the observatory of Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University. Additionally, ESO participates in the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Garching campus, which brings together nearly 200 scientists.

In Chile, fellows interact with visiting astronomers from a broad area of research and have the opportunity to collaborate with the rapidly growing Chilean astronomical community and with astronomers at other international observatories located in Chile. The ALMA building next to ESO's Santiago offices with its many astronomers and fellows further enhances the stimulating scientific environment available to ESO Chile Fellows.

At both sites, ESO Fellows are expected to actively participate in ESO's scientific life by proposing and getting involved in the organisation of scientific workshops, co-supervising PhD students, coordinating thematic research groups, joining scientific committees, organising seminars, etc.

The fellowships positions in Garching are 3 years in duration. In addition to developing their independent research programmes, ESO Garching Fellows are expected to engage in functional work for up to 25% of their time. Previous fellows have rated functional work as much more positively influential in their career than previously thought as it had equipped them with essential professional skills. Duties are varied and can relate to instrumentation, the VLT/I, ALMA, APEX, ELT, science operations support either in Garching or at one of ESO's observatories in Chile, software development, or public outreach and education via e.g., the unique on-site ESO Supernova. The opportunity to gather experience from ESO's frontline projects and operations brings fellows a privileged vantage point no matter where their career path takes them next.

The fellowships in Chile are granted for 4 years. During the first three years, the fellows are assigned to one of the science operation groups of Paranal, ALMA or APEX, where they will contribute at a level of 80 nights per year. For ALMA fellows a fraction of their duties can alternatively be spent on data processing, participation in the ALMA review process as technical experts, software testing, optimisation and extension of the array capabilities. At Paranal, fellows have the opportunity to join an Instrument Operations Team (IOT). In the role of Instrument Fellow, they gain an in-depth knowledge of different aspects of a given instrument such as engineering and technological characteristics, operations and data reduction. They further develop useful skills as notions of project management, team coordination, and communicating in a multidisciplinary environment.

This exquisite mix between technical knowledge associated with a close contact with the science carried out at the Observatories, allow ESO Chile Fellows to build a solid science programme that can boost one's future career.

During the fourth year, a Chile fellow may choose to spend the fourth year either at ESO's astronomy centre in Santiago, or at ESO Headquarters in Garching or at any astronomy/astrophysics institute in an ESO member state. There are no functional duties during the fourth year, except in the case that the fourth year is spent at ESO Chile, where fellows are expected to carry out functional work for up to 25% of their time. Under certain conditions, the fellow may also be hosted by a Chilean institution where she/he will be eligible to apply for time on all telescopes in Chile through competition for Chilean observing time.

The programme is open to applicants who will have achieved their PhD in astronomy, physics or a related discipline before 1 November 2018. Early-career scientists from all astrophysical fields are welcome to apply. While scientific excellence is the primary selection criterion for all fellowships, candidates should also explain (in their motivation letter) how ESO's facilities and environment and their work at ESO would facilitate their scientific development.

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary and allowances (tax-free), comprehensive social benefits, and we provide financial support for relocating families.

If you are interested in enhancing your early career through an ESO Fellowship at the most advanced ground-based observatory in the world, then please apply by completing the web application form available at

Please include in your application:

  • a cover/motivation letter;
  • a curriculum vitae with a list of publications, and a brief summary of relevant experience (e.g. observing/ technical/ programming/ modelling);
  • a proposed research plan (maximum of two pages);
  • the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your scientific work and willing to provide a recommendation letter. Referees will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter. However, applicants are strongly advised to trigger these invitations (using the web application form) well in advance of the application deadline.

The closing date for applications is 15 October 2017. Review of the application documents, including the recommendation letters, will begin immediately. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Candidates will be notified of the results of the selection process between December 2017 and February 2018. Fellowships will begin in the second half of 2018.

Further information

For more information about the fellowship programme and ESO's astronomical research activities, please see: For a list of current ESO staff and fellows, and their research interests please see: Details of the Terms of Service for fellows including details of remuneration are available at:

For any additional questions please contact:

For Garching: Eric Emsellem, email:

For Chile: Claudio De Figueiredo Melo, email:

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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