Policy - Early-Career Scientific Visitor Programme Garching


To support short-term visits (minimum one month up to four months) by early-career scientists (up to three years from the PhD) of any nationality to spend part of their research experience at ESO. We aim at offering a flexible channel through which young astronomers can enrich their professional profile with short-term research experience in the vibrant scientific environment of one of the world's leading observatories. With this programme, ESO aims to promote scientific interaction with its community and research institutions worldwide and enhance ESO's role as an astronomical centre of excellence.

While working on their research project, there will be the opportunity for early-career astronomers to promote their research and look for new potential collaborators through this programme.

While visiting the ESO-HQ in Garching, the early-career scientists have the unique chance to meet ESO experts who are deeply involved in the development and operations of the ESO facilities (La Silla Paranal Observatory, including APEX, and ALMA), e.g. proposal preparation, observation preparation, data processing and archive research. The Office for Science is happy to help the visitor upon arrival and facilitate possible informal encounters with ESO experts. Such meetings will be offered on a best-effort basis and depending on the availability of the ESO resources.

Who is eligible

Through this programme, ESO accepts applications from students enrolled in a PhD in astronomy or related disciplines and from Post-Doctoral researchers up to three years from the PhD. No nationality is in principle excluded. However, preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

PhD students or scientists without an affiliation and job contract during the entire time of the planned visit are not eligible for this programme.

How to apply

Eligible scientists who want to apply are kindly requested to complete the application form and send it by e-mail to the ESO Visitor Selection Committee (VSC) chairperson (vsc-chair@eso.org). The VSC will check for suitability and might request more details to incorporate in the text before distributing it to the VSC members for evaluation.

Potential applicants are encouraged to directly contact any ESO staff member or fellow and coordinate their planned visit with them. Alternatively, any potential applicant may contact the Chair of the ESO VSC (vsc-chair@eso.org) to put them in contact with an ESO staff or fellow working in their field of research.

Potential visitors are requested to submit their application at least four months before the planned visit for practical reasons.

The length of the visits can vary from one month to a maximum of four. Applications for shorter visits are handled directly by the Head of the Office for Science and the Director for Science. 

Selection Committee and evaluation process

Applications to the ESO Early-Career Visitor Programme are evaluated by the ESO Scientific Visitor Selection Committee (VSC). The members of the VSC are selected from the ESO Faculty and cover a broad range of scientific interests. The VSC reviews incoming applications every 1-2 months and recommends visitors to the Head of the Office for Science. It follows the approved visits with the appropriate correspondence and arrangements and globally monitors the ongoing visits to make them successful.

The evaluation is done considering the candidate's scientific excellence and the scientific project proposed for the visit. Also, the project's feasibility in terms of goals against the requested time is taken into consideration. 

While synergies between the proposed work plan during the visits with the scientific interest of the ESO scientific community are not mandatory, ESO strongly encourages visitors to use this opportunity to interact and establish new collaborations with the community of ESO staff, fellows and students.

Support to and Duties of the Visitors

While at ESO, a scientific visitor has the status of Unpaid Associate and receives a monthly allowance to cover living expenses and family support (if needed). Generally, ESO provides accommodation for visitors in the form of fully furnished apartments in Garching. Should the visitor arrange to stay elsewhere, reimbursement of accommodation expenses at the level of the costs of a comparable ESO apartment is possible if rent proof of payment is submitted. Travel expenses to and from ESO are also generally reimbursed.  

Upon his/her arrival, the visitor is supported by the secretary of the scientific visitor programme, Denisa Tako (denisa.tako@eso.org), on the administrative aspects of their visit. The contact person (the scientific collaborator at ESO or a member of the staff identified at the time of the invitation) has the task of introducing the visitor to the scientific life at ESO. An office is assigned to every approved visitor, as well as a computer terminal and an account. 

All visitors are requested to give either a seminar or an informal discussion during their stay at ESO, and are expected to follow the ESO code of conduct.

Visitors are also requested to acknowledge support from the ESO Early-Career Visitor Programme in any publication(s) resulting from the visit.