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PhD position to work on the dark side of star formation (V24.0311)

Job description

The stratospheric balloon mission GUSTO has just completed its 55-day flight over Antarctica, making measurements of far-infrared C+ and N+ line emission which is unobservable from the ground. The galactic plane survey covers 50 square degrees and the LMC map 1.5 square degrees, including deep coverage of the 30 Dor region. The high-resolution GUSTO spectra are expected to provide new insights into the process of star formation in interstellar clouds, in particular the effect of feedback from young stars on their birth environment.

Funding is now available for a PhD candidate to analyze the GUSTO data at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. The successful candidate will compare the GUSTO maps with observations in ground-based tracers of atomic and molecular clouds. The student will use state-of-the-art analysis tools, taking advantage of the high spectral resolution of the GUSTO data, to identify signatures of radiative and mechanical feedback in the gas clouds surrounding young stars. The position is co-supervised by Floris van der Tak (SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research) and Xander Tielens (University of Maryland).

The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute is part of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) and is recognised worldwide for the quality of its research in multiple areas of astronomy. With 15 faculty and 50 PhD students, it is the second-largest astronomical institute in the Netherlands. Groningen, a historic town in the northern Netherlands, occupies a strategic place in Dutch astronomy, hosting both the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, the far-infrared laboratory of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and the NOVA laboratory for sub-millimeter instrumentation. The Kapteyn Institute has a strong connection with the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) in Dwingeloo, a European centre of radio astronomy research. Staff and PhD students at the Kapteyn Institute frequently collaborate with SRON and ASTRON scientists and engineers. There are also strong interdisciplinary connections with other institutes in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and the Dutch Origins Center. English is the common language spoken at the institute.

We seek excellent candidates with a strong background in the physical sciences who desire to obtain a PhD degree from a top European university. A successful candidate must hold a MSc or equivalent degree in Physics, Astronomy or a related field, by the starting date of the position. Previous research experience and computational skills will be important criteria for the selection.

What we offer: An appointment as PhD student at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen, which is expected to lead to a PhD degree after 4 years.

Groningen ( is a historic university town in the northern Netherlands with a population of approximately 230,000 people, of which almost 25% are students. This makes Groningen the city in the Netherlands with the highest student population density, the youngest city in the country, and one of the youngest in Europe. Groningen offers very high quality of life, surrounded by beautiful nature, and is a lively city with a remarkably diverse cultural scene. You can find more information on


What we expect

Applicants should have a recent MSc degree in Astronomy, Physics, or a related field. Experience with far-infrared observations or research into star formation is an asset, but not a requirement. Candidates should have good communication skills in English.


Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • A salary of € 2,770 (salary scale PhD candidates) gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% year-end bonus.
  • A temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that you will successfully complete your PhD thesis within the next three years. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement.

Intended starting date: October 1st, 2024


Please submit the following material, concatenated in a single PDF file and upload this file as your ‘Letter of Motivation’ by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website)

  • A cover letter motivating your application and detailing the motivation to apply for this specific PhD project (1 page max).
  • An academic CV.
  • A research statement (2 pages max) describing your personal research interests and previous research projects.
  • A certified list of grades from your undergraduate degree(s) up to the moment of application (in case your MSc degree has not yet been awarded).
  • The names and e-mail addresses of 3 academic referees who are willing and able to write recommendation letters for you, including the supervisor of your MSc research project.

Review of applications begins July 1st, 2024, and continues until the position is filled.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. Floris van der Tak (more information about the position), f.f.s.van.der.tak
  • Prof. Xander Tielens, tielens

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.