What makes ESO's Fellowship programme unique and attractive?

As the foremost astronomy organisation and the world's most productive observatory with three cutting-edge observing sites in Chile's Atacama desert, ESO is clearly a special place to work and to do astronomy. ESO offers many unique opportunities for Fellows that cannot be obtained elsewhere:

  • ESO Fellows have an opportunity to share a truly international environment where they work closely with people from different cultures and disciplines.
  • ESO Fellowships are well supported research positions that allow recent PhDs to blossom as scientists by developing their own independent programmes and to engage in fruitful scientific collaborations with other astronomers at ESO or the broader astronomical community.
  • ESO provides an innovative and creative environment where Fellows are empowered to make an individual contribution.
  • The inclusion of functional responsibilities opens career options for Fellows who want to explore alternative paths in astronomy such as working at observatories and combining research and functional duties. Former ESO Fellows have gone on to a wide variety of new positions, including professorships at universities, support astronomer positions at international observatories, science communication and public outreach positions, and senior management positions at national and international scientific organisations.
  • ESO is an intergovernmental organisation and offers an attractive tax-free remuneration and benefits package for Fellows, and relocation support for their families.

In summary, there are few other postdoctoral programmes in astronomy that offer the unique combination of professional and personal development that ESO's Fellowship programme does.

Reaching new heights!

ESO's Fellowship Programme is designed to have young scientists reach the next step of their career: for example a desired post-doctoral position or a more permanent position at a university, research institute or observatory.
With this programme ESO Fellows will:

  • Develop their scientific profiles, benefiting greatly from a rich scientific environment where they can interact with more senior scientists;
  • Work as independent and mature researchers who can/will develop their own research projects and contribute effectively to collaborative scientific endeavours;
  • Finally get prepared to take on higher scientific, administrative or managerial responsibilities in future positions.

ESO Fellowship in Garching

In Garching, the Fellowships are granted for three years, subject to satisfactory performance each year. While spending most of the time on their scientific research, the Fellows are expected to contribute up to 25% of their time on support or development activities in the area of instrumentation, operations support, archive/virtual observatory, VLTI, ALMA, ELT, public affairs or science operations at the Observatory in Chile. The ESO Headquarter in Garching near Munich, Germany, is situated in the immediate neighbourhood of the Max-Planck-Institutes for Astrophysics and for Extraterrestrial Physics and only a few kilometres away from the Observatory of the Ludwig-Maximilian University. ESO is also participating in the newly formed Excellence Cluster on the same campus.

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ESO Fellowship in Chile

The Fellowships in Chile are granted for one year initially, with annual extensions for three additional years (4 years total). During the first three years, the Fellows are assigned to one of the science operations groups of Paranal, ALMA or APEX, where they will contribute to the operations at a level of 80 nights per year. During the fourth year of Chile fellowships several options are provided. The 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.

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A world full of opportunities

The ESO Office for Science is encouraging and supporting all kind of initiatives from the Fellows. The Fellows from both Germany and Chile may thus wish to travel to visit the other sites, to meet with other Staff, Fellows and Students, and to advertise the results of their research. ESO Fellows can mentor PhD Students, design and lead the organisation of science workshops, foster existing or new collaborations making full use of ESO Visitor programmes. Opportunities also exist for Fellows to attend specific training sessions (e.g., Project Management, Presentation skills, Job application writing, etc).