FAQs - Space Science Faculty
ESA Research Fellowship: Further Questions, Tips and Hints
Further to the information given in the Call for Applications, some further clarifications, tips and hints are given here
FAQ on "Can I apply?"
Yes, but you do need to have obtained your PhD before starting the Fellowship.
The programme is aimed at early-career scientists, having received their PhD recently. However, the research environment at ESA is best suited for fellows who have acquired a high degree of independence and are ready to proactively pursue their own scientific ideas and search for collaborations. Experience organising one's own projects, whether during the PhD or during a first postoc may thus be helpful.
As a general guideline, candidates with up to five years of experience after their PhD are the target group for the Research Fellowship programme.
In general we expect research fellows to start in September/October, but we can adapt to your needs within a timeframe of few months.
Your science should be relevant to ESA science missions. As such it is advisable to be able to build links with one or more ESA science mission(s) which also helps fellows to foster collaborations with active ESA scientists. We recommend that you search for ESA scientists working on a mission related to your scientific interests and contact them (see below) to discuss your project.
FAQ ON "Is this interesting for me?"
Research Fellows typically use their research fellowships to expand their network and usually continue their academic career outside of ESA after completion of the fellowship.
An idea of typical post-fellowship careers can be seen from the RF Alumni Portal.
No. As with any ESA employee working on a science project, Research Fellows need to compete for data like non-ESA employees, e.g., write observing proposals in response to Announcements of Opportunity (AOs) or join a PI team with privileged data access. It is recommended to consult with a Faculty member from the mission you plan to work with about data rights policies.
Conference attendance is funded from a shared faculty budget allowing each Research Fellow to attend three conferences per year.
The Fellowship Mentors are guides providing both ESA-specific and career information, rather than being scientific advisors or supervisors. Therefore, the mentor does not need to be an expert in your field. One important role of the mentor is to give guidance during the job search after the fellowship.
In addition to the mentor, fellows will have a formal Line Manager, who has the overall responsibility of the science fellowship programme. The Line Manager approves travel, leave, etc.
The mentor and line manager do not have to be involved in the scientific activities of the fellows. It is desirable to seek suitable collaborative relationships with many Faculty members working in your research field (and beyond).
Further Background Information
For further inquiries, feel free to contact the Head of the Science Research Fellowship Programme.
The Space Science Faculty Directory lists all the members and their interests.
To contact any person by email, please use the address given on their profile page, or use:
Current Space Science Research Fellows will be happy to share any experience with you.
It is highly recommended to contact one or more ESA scientists who work in your area. They can give you much more detailed information about their research and the research you can conduct during the Fellowship. Information about research activities at ESA can be found in the main Application page.
Tips and Tricks
The review board has to review many - usually about a hundred - of applications from a large range of research fields spanning different space science topics. It is therefore very probable that few of the board members will be experts in your specific field. It is thus important to explain the big picture and how your proposal specifically advances the area you are adressing.
Of course, the technical feasibility needs to be established, so a healthy balance needs to be found between emphasising the scientific importance to a general audience and demonstrating that you are in command of the required expert abilities. An important element of feasibility is a realistic schedule, showing that the anticipated goals can be achieved within 2 years.
Recommendation letters do not need to be sent at the time of application, but names and contact details of three people who can be contacted for references need to be provided. We may contact them if you are shortlisted.